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Rural Areas Suffering; Lacking Internet Connectivity

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“44.3% of Jamaica’s population lives in rural areas” World Bank data 2018

Jamaica has always been recognized and recommended for its culture; which, in turn, promote one of the best tourist destinations: Jamaica, Heartbeat of the World. Brand Jamaica is popular because of the people, beaches, sunshine and music. While there is a focus on developing the country through tourism, infrastructures, education and technological availability; it can be said that many areas in Jamaica are not benefiting from these developments. Technology is an enabler to the oneness of society, which is predominantly the backbone of economic growth and social connection. However many areas in rural Jamaica are unable to reap such benefits.

Persons residing in rural districts are missing out on opportunities that would be beneficial to their personal and professional development. Persons capable and willing to work are unable to because companies require an upload speed of 5mbs and a download speed of 20mbs. Unfortunately, in these areas, persons are rarely receiving these speeds and thus lose out on their chances. Companies fail to believe that rural areas have slower speed because where they are located they are able to receive better internet connectivity. It is detrimental for persons who are University graduate or students and professional who wish to move back home because they know the chance of working from home is little to none. Working with slow internet speed can be frustrating as well as inefficient as such it acts as a push factor causing persons to consider fleeing “country” areas.

Third-party agencies are capitalizing on the chance to provide internet services to persons in rural areas. These third-party companies feed their internet services from popular telecommunication networks. Though these companies provide the service which benefits community members the speed may not always be efficient. These speeds may even be slower than those which are provided by the prepaid services offered by Digicel and Flow. The benefit, however, is that the prices are reasonable as it regards wireless accessibility. But one should be mindful that if these companies are sole provider they will pay little attention to their customer complaints.

Our government is aware of the lacking internet connectivity that rural Jamaica faces, as they have made mention of putting measures in place to improve internet speed and connectivity. It is important to mention that rural Jamaica is suffering in other areas of development. Many times we hear persons complain on the news about the road, water availability and the condition of the schools and other necessary infrastructures. It is for this reason an analogy has been made between the importance of internet and electricity. It, therefore, should be noted that the government view the internet now as a basic requirement for all citizens as it promotes improvement in their lives and thus brings forth prosperity. What is word without the actions behind them? In order for connectivity to be up to the standard of those received in Kingston, the government should ensure that internet services provided in rural areas are regulated.

Jamaica has planned out its goals for their 2030 vision, but Jamaica will not be anywhere near achieving these goals if rural areas are placed on “the back burner”. Therefore the Jamaican government should fully recognized the needs of rural Jamaica first before Vision 2030 can be achieved. With that said the Jamaican government should focus on improving the availability of technology in rural areas for the continued development of the country.

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