Sat | Jul 21, 2018

JUTC passengers to enjoy free Wi-Fi service

Published:Thursday | March 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

Aspiring to make Internet access in Jamaica as abundant as water, Growth Tech Limited yesterday signed off on a major partnership deal with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) for the provision of Wi-Fi connectivity on approximately 450 buses.

This cutting-edge initiative should begin taking effect by mid-year in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. Then it should be rolled out in full force by December, according to Growth Tech's Chief Executive Officer Neil Lawrence, who was speaking at the contract-signing ceremony at the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology in St Andrew.

"This is a revolutionary partnership with the JUTC to provide free Wi-Fi access to passengers. Our vision is to eventually see data services in Jamaica become like oxygen, available to everyone, everywhere. In a few months, a sizable number of Jamaicans will have a new avenue to access connectivity - email, browsing, and messaging - facilitating a more productive and enjoyable commute," Lawrence said.

With all this 'free' luxury, the question of how Growth Tech will benefit comes into play. Lawrence said that products and services would be presented to commuters in the form of advertisements when they connect to the Wi-Fi.

"We are a business, so there is an opportunity for us to earn. We will be selling ads," he disclosed.

JUTC's Managing Director Paul Abrahams said that the move was expected to boost commuting on the state-owned buses.

"We are looking for this initiative to increase ridership significantly, and that is where our interest is, and, possibly, generating revenue from advertising," he told The Gleaner.

The technology will allow up to 100 devices per bus to access the 4G service at any one time. Devices will be remotely managed and have been passed as hardy to withstand constant movement. Continuous monitoring will also take place to block explicit content.

Technology Minister Andrew Wheatley has endorsed the initiative, declaring that Jamaica has made another step towards cementing itself as a trendsetter in the Caribbean.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com