More needed to take Internet into all schools

More needed to take Internet into all schools

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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Dear Editor,

As I write this letter, I sit in my house easily accessing the Internet. That is due, in large part, to the fact that most Jamaicans in the urban areas enjoy Internet speed and availability on par with the most advanced cities. This is to be commended.

However, I did not realise that such a blessing is restricted to myself as an individual.

My daughter attends a kindergarten and preparatory school near Bogue, St James. I recently volunteered my time to improve their wireless network. After doing so, I began to reach out to various Internet service providers to attain service that would allow the school to engage the great wealth of resources available. Upon so doing, however, I found that it is practically impossible for a school to attain good Internet.

At the time of writing, Flow's website offers 50Mbps Internet for residences at about $5,000 per month. After reaching out to both Flow and Island Networks, I found that the school could obtain similar speeds only under business plans. Thus, for comparable access, the school must pay between US$1000 to US$2000 per month.

While I understand the bandwidth demands of a school are greater than at my house, should the schools of Jamaica be subject to such significant charges? In this developing age of technology, our schools must prepare our students to engage both in person and online. The current prices of Internet all but guarantee that only the richest of schools can attain access for their students, and subjects most schools to linger in a century gone by.

There must be a third option of school pricing that allows schools to invest in the children of Jamaica and open the doors of opportunity wide for all.

Caleb Gibbs

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