Puerto Rico’s Smart Island program submitted a five-year high-speed internet Action Plan to the federal government, reported News is my Business. To improve access to education, medical care, communication, and daily business, improving telecommunications infrastructure across the island is “very important.”
“The agenda is ambitious, comprehensive, but necessary to increase the accessibility of citizens to high-speed internet, while we improve connectivity and the resilience of telecommunications in Puerto Rico,” said Enrique Völckers-Nin, executive Director of the Smart Island program and the commonwealth’s deputy secretary for Innovation, Information, Data and Technology.
News is my Business reported that the Smart Island program’s main objective is to coordinate the construction of broadband infrastructure and facilitate programs that bring service to residents, even in remote areas. “This program is focused on actively collaborating with government agencies, the federal government, community organizations and components of the Puerto Rico telecommunications industry to ensure that all Puerto Ricans…have access,” added Völckers-Nin.
The program sets out to accomplish four pillars for Puerto Ricans:
- Guaranteeing connectivity for all residential, commercial, and government structures
- Ensuring quality and speed in connectivity that reaches the home, business, or office (minimum 100 Mbps/20 Mbps)
- Providing reliable and affordable access
- Fostering basic knowledge of technology and digital tools
The Smart Island program is already on the path to improving connectivity, investing $50 million in a Public WiFi program, creating 190 public WiFi spaces across 46 municipalities. Coverage will include libraries, public buildings (offering services), public beaches, community centers, parks, walking areas, ferry terminals, lookout points, and more.
Another $30 million is also being distributed under the Internet Resilience and Hardening program, funding local internet providers as they improve infrastructure to prepare for adverse situations. News is my Business reported that funds can be utilized for backup generators, solar panels, and batteries to ensure uninterrupted service during emergencies.
According to Völckers-Nin, a program to build and bury fiber will begin in a few months. The $300 million design project will be funded with state and federal monies.