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Free public wireless Internet access for St Lucians

Published:Tuesday | May 22, 2012 | 12:00 AM

St Lucia is taking steps to increase wireless broadband (WiFi) internet penetration with an ultimate plan to make it free across the country, Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony has announced.

Anthony said the project to make St Lucia "WiFi country", making wireless internet access available islandwide, was one of his administration's key promises in its election manifesto.

He said the programme will not be completely rolled out by the end of 2012, but the government hopes that in two to three years a wireless internet connection could be available in any public place free of charge.

"That's something government believes is absolutely important because we can't have a situation where some parts of the country are connected and others are not," he said.

Details of the plan have been revealed by Technology Minister James Fletcher who said that government views the development of information and communication technology as a "key avenue" for development.

He said that government would also lobby Internet service providers to make their products more affordable for St Lucians, just as it did regarding mobile phone prices.

"We have done a very good job in ensuring that St Lucians can talk to each other using cellphones so as far as our government is concerned, the next battle which has to be fought is allowing St Lucians to access the Internet to get more information, do research and use it for educational purposes so our battle and interaction with the service providers is to reduce the cost of Internet," he said.

St Lucia's is the latest WiFi initiative in the Eastern Caribbean following a similar drive in Barbados and another plan to put WiFi in Antiguan schools.