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Jamaica | Mar 3, 2023

Government set to boost broadband connection for remote areas

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

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Daryl Vaz, minister of science, energy and technology

A new dawn is coming for people living in remote areas with little to no broadband connectivity, after the government announced it is in dialogue with Starlink, a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, to increase internet connection in hard-to-reach areas.

Daryl Vaz, technology minister in a statement on Thursday (March 2) said that his ministry has reached out to Starlink in order to form a partnership to increase internet connection in remote areas of the country.

“The introduction of Starlink has given greater access to areas that are not currently served or underserved. It is a private entity, we have reached out to them, they obviously as a new start-up have been having their issues in terms of rolling out [etc] but the intention is to have a dialogue with them to see how we can partner with them to try and see if we can cover some of these areas,” Vaz said.

(Photo: SPACE.com)

He also noted that the ministry of education utilized the service of the satellite company during the COVID-19 pandemic which yielded great results in remote areas.

The technology minister noted that the Universal Service Fund (USF) has already reached out to Starlink and the next step is to reach an amicable agreement in regard to the partnership.

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

In addition to a partnership with Starlink, the government Vaz also noted that the cabinet has approved the National Broadband Initiative, a plan by the government to provide households and communities across the country with internet connection.

“Cabinet has approved the National Broadband Initiative as a designated national plan to come to parliament and that will allow for us to conclude negotiations with the IFC [Internal Finance Corporation] in relation to the model that we will use in relation to the procurement which will come after,” he noted.

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