Relief is coming for 1,500 low-income households across the island that are set to benefit from Flow Jamaica’s Jump initiative launched on Wednesday to provide affordable Internet service, smart devices, and digital skills training.
Rolling out next month, the public-private partnership will see the households selected by the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) paying a subsidised cost of $800 for the service.
According to vice-president and general manager at Flow Jamaica Stephen Price, the project will narrow the digital divide by ensuring that no one is left behind.
“We recognise that bridging the digital gap is a large multifaceted issue that requires a holistic solution with partners. This programme will specifically provide subsidised broadband service to qualify low-income households who need it,” he said at the launch held at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew.
“The families will receive online digital skills training, a Chromebook, and home internet at a subsidised cost, inclusive of tax. This is important as we touch the most vulnerable in our society. We have to understand that we have to meet them where they are at,” he added.
Asked about the initial cost for the service before the subsidy, Price told the Jamaica Observer that the cost was approximately $3,500 per month.
“In sharing the partnership, in terms of the educational piece and digital literacy piece, we’ve pulled that out and tried to address that using the non-governmental organisation side. In terms of the connectivity piece, the original price for the product was around $3,500 per month and we brought it down to $500 plus tax, thereabout,” he explained.
At the same time, CEO at One on One educational services Ricardo Allen expressed optimism about the project. His organisation will aid in providing digital literacy skills to members of the households.
“We want to connect those people with knowledge. Imagine if we could upskill some of these people in these small communities. This is not a small problem we are solving, this is not a Jamaican problem we are solving, we are upskilling our workforce to participate in a global workforce and that’s important,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz, who lauded Flow for the project, noted that it is the “genesis of broadband connectivity for all Jamaicans”.
“There is nothing that will bring Jamaica on the road to prosperity without good public-private partnerships. I am happy to be a part of it and I know that the 1,500 households will benefit,” Vaz said.
“I am sure that once the pilot is taking place we will start to work out the mechanics of what happens next so that there is no pause between the pilot and moving into a full-fledged roll-out of this initiative,” he added.