USF establishes 315 free community Wi-Fi hotspots island-wide Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Universal Service Fund (USF) has, so far, installed some 315 free community Wi-Fi hotspots across the island, aimed at tackling connectivity disparities.

This disclosure was made by Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport, Daryl Vaz, during the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Spectrum Management Conference, which was held at the Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay, St James, on Tuesday (May 14).

“The successful implementation of community Wi-Fi hotspots in the last financial year brought the Wi-Fi penetration to 315 communities across the island. Despite these achievements, work continues to reach even more communities and touch more lives,” the Minister said.

Connectivity 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.

“The USF continues to work to reach those communities which need connectivity, through the Connect Jamaica Wi-Fi programme. To this end, five new public Wi-Fi hotpots were rolled out in the 2023/2024 financial year, resulting in a total of 29 Connect Jamaica available islandwide,” Mr. Vaz said.

The Connect Jamaica initiative aims to establish free Wi-Fi connections in high-traffic areas, such as parks and town centres.

Mr. Vaz said that despite significant advancements in telecommunications infrastructure on the island, there is still work to be done, particularly in rural areas.

He pointed out that spectrum connectivity “holds the key” to addressing the connectivity disparity.

Spectrum connectivity refers to radio frequencies allocated to the mobile industry and other sectors for communication over the airwaves.

“By leveraging spectrum resources to reach the unserved and underserved population, we can unlock new opportunities for social inclusion, economic empowerment and sustainable development,” the Minister said.

The two-day conference, which concludes today (May 15), is hosted in partnership with the Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) Jamaica and the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU).

As part of the conference, attendees were involved in discussions on key spectrum topics for the Caribbean region and beyond, through interactive sessions, networking opportunities and an exhibition area.

The event is being held under the theme ‘Delivering strong, sustainable and inclusive connectivity across the region’.