Sat | May 30, 2020

USF poised to spread its wings - More free access points to be made

Published:Tuesday | March 3, 2020 | 12:05 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
From left: Member of Parliament for Central St James Heroy Clarke, Elon Parkinson, Digicel marketing executive, and Daniel Dawes, chief executive officer, Universal Service Fund, during  the recent staging of a Community Access Point conference in Montego Bay.
From left: Member of Parliament for Central St James Heroy Clarke, Elon Parkinson, Digicel marketing executive, and Daniel Dawes, chief executive officer, Universal Service Fund, during the recent staging of a Community Access Point conference in Montego Bay.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Daniel Dawes, chief executive officer of The Universal Service Fund (USF) has said the entity is poised to broaden its range across the island as plans are in place to set up offices in the parishes of St James, Portland and Manchester.

“This strategic move will help to support the USF projects and programmes, and our valued stakeholders, as we seek to increase Internet access across Jamaica,” said Dawes, while addressing the recent staging of a Community Access Point conference in Montego Bay, St James.

The conference, which was attended by over 150 stakeholders from Western Jamaica, alongside other prominent stakeholders in the region, was designed to look at critical issues about the relevance of the USF’s Community Access Point (CAP), which is being viewed as a critical platform in expanding the reach of the project.

“The purpose of the conference is to meet with the CAP leadership in order to discuss the challenges being face by them and to strengthen cooperation with current stakeholders in the region,” explained Delroy Dobney, the USF’s project coordinator.

Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis, who also spoke at the event, lauded the USF for the significant investment it has made in the region so far, which includes the recently launched open-source Wi-Fi in Sam Sharpe Square in the western city.

“It is making a positive impact in Montego Bay,” said Davis, in regard to the Wi-Fi in Sam Sharpe Square. “I want to use this opportunity to urge the participants attending this conference to make good use of the equipment at the Community Access Points (CAP) provided by the USF.”

At the Sam Sharpe Square event, Dawes announced that a number of other major township were poised to join Sam Sharpe Square with free Wi-Fi service.

“Our next public Wi-Fi hotspot will be in May Pen, Clarendon; Ocho Rios in St Ann; and Port Antonio in Portland,” said Dawes, who urged users to use the facility for personal development and not just texting. “We are also working with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to make sure that disabled persons receive the benefit of free Internet facility.”

The USF is an agency under the umbrella of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology. It is mandated to ensure access to information and communication tools to facilitate ICT development in Jamaica.

The USF has, over the years, commissioned in excess of 318 CAP sites to bring information communications technologies access to underserved areas in Jamaica. Sixty-two of these CAP sites are in western Jamaica.

In addition to Davis, other critical stakeholders in attendance included St James Custos Bishop Conrod Pitkin, Central St James Member of Parliament Heroy Clarke, and Digicel Marketing Executive Elon Parkinson.