Jamaican government highlights USF successes

24 Sep 2014

The government of Jamaica has revealed that its Universal Service Fund (USF), which was set up in 2005 to help provide communications services in underserved areas of the island, has so far invested JMD626 million (USD5.5 million) to build 188 internet community access points (CAPs). The CAPs provide internet access at minimal or no cost to local residents who can use the centres for education, business, bill payments, communication, social networking and research. The construction of a further 48 CAPs has already been approved by the USF. Alongside this, the USF has also budgeted over JMD1.4 billion to fund the ‘Tablets for Schools’ project, and there are another 65 new projects at different stages of completion which are expected to cost the agency a total of JMD616 million, local newspaper The Observer writes. Meanwhile, work continues on the Islandwide Broadband Network project, in collaboration with local telcos LIME and Flow, to extend connectivity in schools, libraries and post offices. The USF is financed through a levy of USD0.03 per minute on international calls to fixed lines in Jamaica and USD0.02 on international calls to mobile lines. Between its launch in 2005 and the end of 2013 the USF collected almost JMD11 billion, with around JMD1.3 billion collected in 2013 alone.