Black River gets public hotspot through USF, Flow Foundation
St Elizabeth South West MP, Floyd Green (centre) joins CEO of the Universal Service Fund, Daniel Dawes (fourth right) and Account Manager at Flow, Nigel Burke (right) in celebrating the launch of the Black River Free Public Wi-Fi hotspot. Sharing the moment are (from left) Councillor for the Black River Division Dwight Salmon, Councillor of the Brompton Division Whitney Smith-Currie, Superintendent in the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Horace Thomas, Superintendent in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Dwight Daley, representing the Custos of St Elizabeth, Godfrey Watson and Mayor of Black River, Derrick Sangster. (Photo: Contributed)

Black River, St Elizabeth is the latest town to receive a public Wi-Fi hotspot thanks to the partnership between C&W Business Jamaica and the Universal Service Fund (USF) to drive digital transformation through free and accessible internet service. Under this initiative nine public Wi-Fi hotspots and 19 community hotspots have been established so far across the island.

To mark the occasion in Black River, key stakeholders including USF Director of Projects, Kwan Wilson, Member of Parliament, Floyd Green and Nigel Burke, Government Account Manager for C&W Business Jamaica, launched the public hotspot on Thursday, April 7 in the town centre. The public hotspot can accommodate up to 500 persons simultaneously and allows the public to benef it from reliable and fast internet connection for free.

“C&W Business Jamaica is proud to partner with the USF on this initiative,” Burke said. “We are powering economic growth with our innovation and technology and it is through partnerships like this that we continue to make a difference in the lives of Jamaicans from all walks of life. These solutions are an effective way of making the internet accessible, available and affordable for our citizens.”

Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South West, Floyd Green, said the residents were grateful for the connectivity and that the free public Wi-Fi is aligned with his overall plans for the constituency.

“In today’s digital world, access to the internet is critical, especially in rural Jamaica. This free Wi-Fi access made available through the USF and C&W Business will play an important role in supporting the business and communication needs of Black River residents and those who frequent the parish capital,” Green noted. “Additionally, this strongly supports our drive of creating the region’s first digitally interactive cultural heritage destination. The residents are elated and look forward to more projects of this nature that leverages the strength and reliability of the C&W Business network.”

Flow has been on an aggressive digital transformation journey over the past three years which includes its network expansion and digital inclusive initiatives such as the public hotspots. More than 500 communities have been connected to its fibre network since January 2020 backed by a US$300M investment. This means that tens of thousands of Jamaicans now have internet access that will help drive growth, support development and result in a more robust economy.

Further, through its Foundation, Flow is enabling progress through digital inclusion, ensuring access to internet-capable devices and the requisite digital literacy training. In support of the Government’s One Laptop or Tablet Per Child initiative, Flow partnered with various organisations to donate hundreds of tablets to students across the country.

Through its Internet in Schools Programme, the Flow Foundation also upgraded the free internet service that it provides to more than 250 schools island-wide. The Foundation also offers a free digital training programme, so persons can build their capacity to take advantage of the opportunities in the digital space. Currently, more than 8,000 Jamaicans are enrolled in the free Skills for the Future Programme and Training for Professionals Programme.

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