The Government is working on a COVID response technology plan, which will provide Jamaicans with Internet connectivity while a national broadband plan is being developed.

 

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz, made the disclosure on Thursday (October 22), while addressing a ceremony for the handover of tablets to students at the Port Antonio Primary School in Portland.

 

He noted that the plan, which is in the final stage of development, is a backup measure while the Government continues to work on a national broadband programme.

 

He said it is in response to the needs expressed by parents, especially those living in rural Jamaica, who have limited or no access to Internet service for their children’s online schooling.

 

“My job is to get national broadband throughout the entire Jamaica in the shortest possible time. That simply means that every nook and cranny of Jamaica must have access to the Internet so that people can do their work, their business and whatever else they want to do,” he said.

 

Minister Vaz said that the national broadband programme “will take time, but we are going to work with Minister [of Education, Youth and Information] Williams, with other Government Ministries, the National Works Agency (NWA) and, most importantly, our multinational partners, who are very, very interested to assist us, both in terms of consultancy and actual rollout”.

 

“It’s going to be done. It’s a matter of how fast it is going to be done,” he noted.

 

In the interim, he said that the Government is “seeing how we can work with the existing telecoms providers, the cable companies and, of course, what we have in terms of our own equipment in the various agencies of Government, such as the National Works Agency”.

 

“If we can do that and collaborate with them, I feel it will improve the situation as it stands now, while we roll out a bigger plan, which is the national broadband plan,” he emphasised.