By the Caribbean Journal staff
St Lucia’s government is taking steps to increase internet and Wi-Fi penetration on the island, with an ultimate plan to make it free across the country.
This year, the government will launch what it says is a major project to make St Lucia “Wi-Fi country,” looking to make Wi-Fi services available for any point or location on the island.
According to Dr James Fletcher, whose portfolio includes Technology, the government views the development of Information and Communication Technology as a “key avenue” for development.
“This year, we will be setting up a project to establish island-wide Wi-Fi in St Lucia,” he said. “That is one of the promises government made in our election manifesto, and we will this year be establishing free, island-wide Wi-Fi.”
The programme will not be completely rolled out by the end of 2012, however; the government said it hopes that, in two or three years, one could go to any public place in St Lucia and access the internet via a wireless connection free of chrage.
“That’s something government believes is absolutely important, because we can’t have a situation where some parts of the country are connected and others are not,” he said.
Fletcher said the government would also lobby internet service providers to make their products more affordable for St Lucians, similar to work the government did regarding mobile phone prices.
“We have done a very good job in ensuring that St Lucians can talk to each other using cell phones, so as far as our government is concerned, the next battle which has to be fought is allowing St Lucians to access the internet to get more information, do research and use it for educational purposes, so our battle and interaction with the service providers is to reduce on the cost of internet,” he said.
St Lucia’s is the latest Wi-Fi initiative in the region, from a drive in Barbados for a similar island-wide programme to a plan to put Wi-Fi in Antigua’s schools.