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    July 15

  • 03:45 PM

Good start for free Wi-Fi

luigimarshall, luigimarshall@nationnews.com

Added 12 November 2011


AS OF YESTERDAY, over 150 000 Barbadians were accessing free Wi-Fi around the island. And although the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) fell short of its target of having 100 per cent access under its 11.11.11 Wi-Fi Barbados – Wi Not initiative launched just under a year ago, programme manager Chris Harper says the organization is extremely satisfied that thousands of residents are now able to access free Wi-Fi in areas where, until now, it was not accessible. “It was a very interesting journey and it had its ups and downs, but generally we are very happy with what we have achieved,” he said at a Press conference at Woodland Estate yesterday. “Our original plan was to have 100 per cent access. However, today with the opening of hotspots and with those who have committed and are in the process of opening, we are at around 60 per cent access.” BEF chairman Peter Boos said what had made the achievement that much more rewarding was the fact that it had been achieved without the help of any of the major telecoms companies. He said that, as a result, a wide cross section of Barbadians became involved in the drive, instead of one company giving a large financial donation, which would have reduced the community efforts which Boos said were mainly responsible for the success of the initiative. Melanie Jones, champion of business facilitation at the BEF Pillar, lauded some of the smaller businesses which, she said, had lent tremendous support to the initiative, despite not having any obvious benefits from doing so.  “We have had businesses such as rum shops come on board to help us with this drive, and they did so only because they thought that it was the right thing to do,” she said. “There are no benefits to them setting up Wi-Fi hotspots at their locations. It won’t bring any increased traffic to their businesses, but they believe in the main objective which is to allow Barbadians and tourists alike free Wi-Fi around Barbados.” Also on hand to commend the achievements of the BEF was senior trade commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean at the Canadian High Commission, Neil Clegg, who said that the $35 000 given to the BEF to help fund the project was money very well spent. “We have contributed substantially, and I think it is very important to emphasize that our motivation . . . was that we also believe strongly that eliminating the digital divide is going to make Barbados a much more dynamic, entrepreneurial and competitive economy,” he said. It is expected that the free Wi-Fi hotspots around the island will also play a major role in helping to make Barbados a destination of choice for tourists. (RB)


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