01/04/2010 Virgin Islands Awarded $1.4M Grant for Broadband Mapping and Planning
January 3, 2010
Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. said this weekend that the Virgin Islands has been awarded approximately $1.4 million from the National Telecommunications Information Administration of the Department of Commerce under their Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program (BTOP). The monies will fund mapping of the territory’s existing broadband network and funding for planning the expansion of the territory’s telecommunications facilities.
“This competitive federal stimulus grant award will allow us to begin the process that will result in our being able to provide reliable broadband services to the territory’s residents and businesses. This is a key initiative towards bringing the critical infrastructure to further spur economic growth in the territory and enable our community to participate in communications and internet worlds without limitation,” deJongh said.
In May 2009, deJongh hosted all of the existing telecom and broadband service providers, as well as the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority and the University of the Virgin Islands’ Research and Technology Park to begin the effort which led to this award. “The purpose of that first-ever such meeting was to outline the government’s vision in submitting an application to the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program and gain the cooperation and participation of these stakeholders in sharing vital information about their networks that is critical to providing the information requested by the NTIA to first create a national broadband map and then to form the basis for developing the plans for expanding the territory’s broadband infrastructure.” deJongh said. Local service providers participating in the meeting Innovative Communications, Choice Communications, Broadband VI, Clear Signal Network Solutions, ADM Wireless, AT&T Cellular, and Sprint Cellular.
"In addition to advanced communication services which can be offered through these communications network enhancements, this initiative presents yet another potential economic boost to the territory in being able to attract financial services firms and other business users of high speed data facilities to the territory. We are only at the beginning of a very intense process but the communication between local market participants was key to this recent award,” said Julito Francis, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). The OEO is the lead entity within the Virgin Islands Government which coordinated the information for the application.
Following a competitive bid process, Stratum Broadband Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts was contracted to assist the OEO in submitting the grant application for the mapping and planning initiatives as well as to develop the engineering and business strategy. It is anticipated that the base data on mapping will be completed in February and that a submission of a second competitive grant application for network build out funding will take place.
“Our success in this area complements efforts that are underway by the University’s Research and Technology Park to expand our e-commerce platform offerings to drive business development in the territory and the recent Government submissions of a federal stimulus grant application to build out our health information exchange infrastructure and recent approval of a federal grant to development and implement a Medicaid management information system,” deJongh said, adding, “a properly planned and executed broadband network deployment provides the infrastructure that will allow us to not only improve our health care delivery apparatus but can be expanded to emergency management capabilities, distance learning approaches, educational options, but also broaden and expand our model for economic