ST JAMES, Jamaica - The communities of Treasure Beach and Mountainside, in St Elizabeth, have been provided with free Wi-Fi service by the Universal Service Fund (USF).
Commissioned on March 29, the service has been made available as part of the USF’s Community Wi-Fi Programme, which aims to increase access to the Internet across Jamaica’s 63 constituencies and allow for greater digital inclusion.
Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Floyd Green, who spoke at the ceremony in Billy’s Bay, Treasure Beach, thanked the USF for implementing the service in the area.
The minister, who also serves as Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth South Western, encouraged residents to take full advantage of the opportunities that the service will provide.
“Let us leverage the provision of this public good and let us set up some classes, so that we can help our young people get some of the skills that they need. Almost anything we can find on the Internet. We can help them to be better versions of themselves and we must use it for that purpose,” he implored.
Green argued that with the advancement in technology, now is the time to leverage the Internet as a teaching tool and much more.
“There is almost every information at your fingertips now. We used to speak about Google and how you can find anything by searching Google, but the world has evolved past Google and now we have artificial intelligence,” the minister pointed out.
“Right now, if I want a speech for this community function, I can go into an app and I can type in ‘give me a speech for the Billy’s Bay launch’, and I can use the free Wi-Fi that I have; it doesn’t cost me anything, and automatically it generates a speech,” he said.
Green also encouraged citizens to take advantage of the Government's ongoing Technology Advancement Programme (TAP), which is being spearheaded by the USF and gives certification in the areas of coding and programming.
The initiative engages unattached youth, aged 18 to 29, over a period of 12 months in ICT training and apprenticeship experience and is free of cost. Students receive a stipend and will be given international certification upon completion as well as a job letter.
At the Mountainside ceremony, Mayor of Black River, Councillor Derrick Sangster, underscored that Wi-Fi service is no longer considered a luxury but a necessity.
“More and more, technology is taking over and everyone is gravitating to the use of technology in their daily operations. We are happy for the citizens and students that the USF, as part of its mandate to spread the joy around Jamaica, has put this facility of free Wi-Fi here in Mountainside,” he said.
The USF will also be commissioning Wi-Fi service on March 30 and March 31 in four additional St Elizabeth communities – Tryall, Holland, Quick Step and Seven Corners.