Free Wi-Fi

JUTC passengers soon to get Internet access

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobsserver.com

Thursday, March 08, 2018

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JAMAICA Urban Transit Company (JUTC) passengers should, by the end of the year, be enjoying free Internet access while riding the company's buses.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley made the announcement yesterday, after joining in signing an agreement between local technology company Growth-Tech Limited and the JUTC through which Growth-Tech will provide free Internet access on 400-plus JUTC buses daily.

According to JUTC's Managing Director Paul Abrahams, the initiative will allow its passengers, using smartphones, to have access to basic Internet connection, at no cost to either the passengers, the Ministry of Transport and Mining, or the Government which owns the bus company.

Abrahams said that the joint venture, including the privately owned Growth-Tech company and two government ministries — Science, Energy and Technology (MSET) and Transport and Mining — also raises the possibility for the JUTC to attract additional passengers and increase its revenues.

“This service will definitely increase ridership and, therefore, increase the company's revenues, and it also fits in with MSET's mission to increase connectivity with the Internet through Wi-Fi services across the country,” he said.

Abrahams was also convinced that it would create additional jobs, benefiting the country, on a whole.

“I, for one, am really excited about this proposal and our signing today, because I think that it is a win-win for the country, in general, and JUTC and MSET, and I can't see where we all cannot benefit from this,” he added.

Wheatley agreed that the initiative fits in with his ministry's objective for connnectivity, and the general mandate of the Government to build a knowledge-based society.

“This initiative is in sync with a number of other projects the ministry has embarked on over the past two years through the Universal Service Fund, as we try to ensure that all citizens are connected to the Internet,” he said.

He noted that already there are some 300 communication access points across Jamaica, and that last year the Government commissioned five free public Wi-Fi facilities — Devon House in Kingston, Mandela Park (Half-Way-Tree), downtown Kingston, Mandeville and Junction in St Elizabeth.

“And we are still looking at opening others in town centres like Annotto Bay and Brown's Town. So it is part of the Government's policy to make sure that we keep our people connected thorugh initiatives like these,” he stated.

He said that the Government had made a commitment more than two years ago, in its election manifesto, for the creation of a smart digital society.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Growth-Tech Neil Lawrence, in answering questions from the media, said that he was not in a position to give figures as to the cost of his company's initiative. However, he said that the company would benefit from advertising revenues arising from the project.

He said that producers of various services would be able to advertise their products and services through the Wi-Fi service being made available.

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