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Free Wi-Fi for Sam Sharpe Square by month-end

Thursday, September 05, 2019

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T he Government will be rolling out free secured Internet access in the historic Sam Sharpe Square of the resort town of Montego Bay by the end of this month.

The initiative is being made possible through the Universal Service Fund (USF), an agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, which will undertake the installation.

“We are supposed to be launching the public Wi-Fi for St James which is at the Sam Sharpe Square. The work has started, the evaluation was done by my team, and within a very short order the contract will be signed and the work complete,” Daniel Dawes, chief executive officer of USF told the Jamaica Observer West.

“So come the end of September we want to have the launch for the public free WiFi for Sam Sharpe Square.”

An elated Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis told the Observer West that upon realising the strong need for the service, he reached out to the USF.

He added that the establishment of Wi-Fi in Sam Sharpe Square forms part of a move by the St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC) to make Montego Bay the Caribbean's first smart city.

“The need was seen, so I approached Mr Daniel Dawes, CEO, USF, and a partnership was arrived at. The St James Municipal Corporation provided the space and the infrastructure work to include running of underground cables to facilitate the installation of free Wi-Fi for Sam Sharpe Square,” said Davis.

“Once the service is up and running, this will ensure that even students waiting for public transportation in Sam Sharpe Square will be able to log on and start their homework and do research.”

Councillor Davis was yesterday speaking to the Observer West from Hangzhou, China, where a delegation from the St James Municipal Corporation is currently attending the 2019 International Sister City Mayors' Conference where the main discussion is centred on smart cities and sustainable cities.

“I am very pleased to be able to relate to the conference that Montego Bay is on the cusp of joining that elite group of smart cities,” Davis said.

He expressed gratitude to the USF for partnering with the STJMC to bring the free Internet service into Sam Sharpe Square.

“I want to thank Mr Dawes and the Universal Service Fund for answering the call of the STJMC to install free Wi-Fi in Sam Sharpe square, and my thinking is that this is where such a project has started and the initiative could be rolled out soon to other areas of the parish of St James,” Davis argued.

Janet Silvera, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the news, noting that it is long overdue.

“It is going to help so many people who would not normally have access to the Internet, particularly those who have to pay high rates, as well, for data. Those persons who are going through the city or do business in the city, the street vendors, etcetera, will now have access to the rest of the world, just by being in downtown Montego Bay,” said Silvera.

“Smart cities is the direction in which everyone else is going. To me, it is the most forward thinking move that we could make in the city. We have been touting this and now we are walking the talk.”

A student from a prominent Montego Bay high school also welcomed news of the impending free Internet.

“It will be a game changer in the city. We can be in Sam Sharpe Square and have the opportunity to browse for free. I cannot wait for it to come,” she remarked.

Dawes revealed that to date “we have deployed seven public Wi-Fis”, adding that before the end of the financial year the USF will be looking to also roll it out in three other towns across the island, namely Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and May Pen.


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