Jagdeo in US$30M laptops pledge

–as GT&T commissions broadband service

—–  Jagdeo in US$30M laptops pledge

President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday (July 29), pledged some US$30 million over the next three years to purchase laptops for poor families as GT&T officially launched the Suriname/ Guyana- Submarine Cable System (SG-SCS), the backbone on which the e-magine broadband service was rolled out earlier this month.

Addressing attendees at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Jagdeo, who has long bandied the computer-in-every-home idea, said the only reason the initiative did not get off the ground before was the uncertainty surrounding internet access.

“That situation has changed now that we have this cable and by the end of the year hopefully will be further enhanced,” the President said. “So we will be setting aside some US$30 million over the next three years to give at least 90,000 households some instrument. We’ll focus on the poorest households in Guyana.”

According to Jagdeo, it would help generate the demand to sell the bandwidth GT&T has available. However, he noted that those families may not be able to afford broadband service initially and may receive some assistance from the state.He challenged GT&T and its parent company Atlantic Tele Network (ATN) to set aside the resources to produce other types of content saying that demand for the service can be created.

“If we are clever working together, developing more applications that we can put on this backbone that we’ve created then more people are going to use it and in no time whatsoever you’re going to recover the investment,” he said.

The President added that having affordable internet was also important to the education sector, an area in which he said the region was losing its competitive edge. He noted that he has been calling for a regional Information Com-munication Technology (ICT) plan focusing on regional broadband access for all of the people.

“We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on roads, on water supply, sewerage etcetera, and those are important but they don’t have the same kind of transformative impact on our society if we were to spend this on broadband access plus the instruments for all of our households. The educational industry could see a boom in our region and we can probably offset some of the loss of competitiveness in the traditional trade areas that we are accustomed to.”

According to Jagdeo, Guyana has a duty to do it if it’s not going to be done at the regional level.“I know we have resource constraints but … this is one area if the state has to even subsidise that access it will,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that the Columbus Group which is providing GT&T with the bandwidth for the cable will be making some 20 gigabytes of bandwidth available for educational purposes in Guyana over the next three years.

And in brief remarks ATN CEO Michael Prior acknowledged the support from Jagdeo for the cable project and said that they shared his vision that demand had to be created.

“We’re going to have to take another leap of faith as the President suggests and urges us and rightly so … and make sure it’s very affordable and that we wheel people in and that we figure out products that are accessible to all,” Prior said.

He added that the laptop per household initiative would be a great help in speeding up the growth of broadband in Guyana. However, he cautioned that it would be a while before broadband was available to everyone pointing out that even in the US they were playing catch up.

Earlier, GT&T’s Chief Financial Officer and CEO-designate Yog Mahadeo announced that they had entered several strategic partnerships including with Starr Computers for low cost computers and Brainstreet for virtual classrooms.

Mahadeo said they will continue to work for a fair return on their investment and to fight “the scourge of bypass” calls which costs the company a lot of revenue. Mahadeo is to succeed Major General (ret’d) Joe Singh as CEO of the company from August.

Also in attendance was Chairman of the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Orga-nisations and Managing Director of Telesur Dirk Curry. GT&T and Telesur are co-investors in the submarine optic cable project worth some US$60 million.

The cable connects Guyana and Suriname with Trinidad and Tobago and ultimately, the rest of the world, according to GT&T. The facility will make available 3,000 times the current bandwidth capacity in use locally, providing an improvement in the delivery of telecommunications and related services in Guyana while acting as redundancy for the Americas II cable.

Download copy here: Jagdeo in US$30M laptops pledge

——–  URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2010/stories/07/30/jagdeo-in-us30m-laptops-pledge/

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  • monkeyGrove  On August 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Thank you for your sharing.

  • American Delight  On August 1, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Something tells me this will cost over $30 million once you factor in maintenance, warranties, etc, over the next three years…

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