JAM | May 17, 2023

‘Closing the digital divide’: Digicel positions Jamaica to become regional tech hub

/ Our Today

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Aerial imagery of the Kingston Waterfront, with Digicel Jamaica’s headquarters in focus (left). (Photo: Vision 2030)

Consistent with the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) theme to “Empower the least developed countries through information and communication technologies”, Digicel is pledging its support toward universal connectivity and digital transformation throughout the Jamaican economy.

Mid-way through its massive US$200 million (JS$31 billion) spend on expanding its LTE and fibre networks, in addition to state-of-the-art broadcast facilities, the company is announcing that it has made significant gains in closing the ‘digital divide’.

Digicel now delivers 99 per cent population coverage for LTE mobile data service, in addition to passing over 250,000 households and businesses with access to high-speed fibre internet.

This takes the digital operator to a total of over 3,100 kilometres of fibre installed across Jamaica.

Since 2022, Digicel has been delivering an advanced internet and TV experience to homes in Clarendon and Manchester using true fibre-to-the-home technology.

The company is eyeing expansions into more parishes as its top-rated fibre service gains wide consumer approval.

“Our network expansions are providing countless opportunities for economic empowerment for Jamaicans due to the direct correlation between access to broadband internet and economic growth,” commented Stephen Murad, CEO of Digicel Jamaica.

Stephen Murad, CEO of Digicel Jamaica

He continued, “Since 2001 when we started, Digicel has invested well over US$1 billion (J$150 billion) in Jamaica, by first transforming the communications landscape with a promise to connect every Jamaican to affordable mobile communications, and now to deliver superfast internet for everyone, everywhere.”

In addition to more employment opportunities for hundreds of Jamaicans as the Digicel network expands, the company’s Foundation has so far installed four of 10 ‘smart rooms’ across Jamaica, at Old Harbour Primary, St. Catherine; Harbour View Primary, Kingston; Harry Watch Primary, Manchester; and, Anchovy Primary, St. James. These institutions have been provisioned up to two years’ free superfast internet service.

Alongside the company’s successes so far, Murad is mindful of the challenges ahead.

Six global Big Tech companies are using two thirds of all Caribbean network capacity, and this is growing every year.

Telecoms operators are therefore forced to add more and more capacity to their networks to cater for this growth in traffic at a tremendous cost.

However, Big Tech do not bear any of the costs to deliver their data, and operators like Digicel are constrained from passing on most of the cost to consumers.

With deep concern, Murad expressed, “Let us use this year’s empowerment theme to rid ourselves of this old model of Big Tech free-riding on networks. Our policymakers and legislators have the power in their hands to impose a fair and equitable solution in the interest of ensuring that Jamaica derives the greatest benefit from every opportunity that emerges in the growing digital economy.”

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is celebrated annually on May 17 to help raise awareness about what the internet and other information and communication technologies can bring to societies and economies, in addition to coming up to solutions to bridging the digital divide.


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