Sat | Jan 16, 2021

COVID-19 exposes Internet access issues

Published:Saturday | October 10, 2020 | 12:08 AM


I regret that COVID-19 is affecting all of us. My condolences to those who have lost loved ones and my deepest sympathy to those who have contracted the disease. I also salute those on the front lines who risk their own health and that of their families in the fight against this invisible enemy.

I live in Bagatelle, one of these rural communities where access to the Internet has been a vexed issue. Bagatelle is only three and a half miles from the main road at Osbourne Store, and nine miles from May Pen. Unfortunately, it took the pandemic to highlight a problem that I have been desperately trying to bring to the attention of the authorities for years. The insistence by some entities that only online submissions are acceptable is tantamount to “digital oppression” I contended.

Before COVID-19, and the revelation that so many children lacked access to the Internet, some people were embarrassed to admit that they did not have ready, reliable and sustained access to the Internet, for fear of being branded as “rural”, unsophisticated and plain backward.

I must thank The Gleaner for publishing my letter titled ‘Disadvantaged By Digicel’ in February 2012.

In this letter, I lamented the fact that Digicel was allowed to deprive us of our unlimited Internet service that was provided by Claro, without replacing it with comparable service when Digicel bought Claro. This is an issue that I have been battling for years. It is important to include this fact in our current discussion and efforts to provide Internet access for all.

We need to put the legal framework in place so that no company is allowed to deprive customers of Internet access without providing equal or better service.

Such a travesty should never be repeated.