Woodpark is the first of several communities in St. Mary Western to receive free public Internet from satellite under the Universal Service Fund (USF) public Wi-Fi hotspot programme.
The service, which became operational on March 30, is provided by ReadyNET.
Due to inadequate fibre-optic infrastructure, the USF has opted for satellite Internet service for Woodpark. Satellite allows remote, rural communities instant access to high-speed Internet.
Nine other communities in St. Mary Western are slated to have similar systems installed during April, with three of the sites offering free access.
All nine locations will offer prepaid service from ReadyNET, where members of the community have the option to purchase data packages once their free allocation is exhausted.
Member of Parliament for the area, Robert Montague, in his remarks at the official commissioning ceremony held at the Woodpark Community Centre, implored parents and guardians to “watch the content” that children are exposed to while online.
“I ask parents not to leave the children alone to surf the internet without providing guidance,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of Ready Communications Limited, Chris Dehring, urged the residents to “protect that dish. It is your connection to the outside world, and the service will be spread across the community, serving homes”.
Internal Auditor at the USF, Karlene Williams, told the residents that they are being provided with access to a service that will enable them to access real-time educational and business opportunities, and they should use the facility wisely.
The USF, an agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, is mandated to provide Internet connectivity and increase the use of information and communications technology (ICT) devices across the country. The agency achieves its mandate through the execution of strategic projects that benefit Jamaicans across several sectors.