Caguas municipal government officials and representatives from the Central Eastern Technological Initiative, or Inteco, unveiled an ambitious $16.3 million broadband network project that will benefit a 10-town region through advanced Internet access.
The project will expand access to broadband through a 515-mile network that will connect more than 250 institutions in the region. The project will eventually provide access to high-speed Internet access at affordable rates to region residents, including 600 businesses and industrial centers, 136,000 homes and 450,000 residents, said Inteco Executive Director Oscar Jiménez during a news conference in Caguas.
Developing the extensive network has been a three-year undertaking, which Jiménez said will insert Puerto Rico into the knowledge economy.
The funding is split between $12.9 million grant obtained from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration in February 2010 and $3.4 million in local investment.
During the announcement, Inteco Chairman and Caguas Mayor William Miranda Torres, said, “with broadband, we will be able to achieve continuous improvements in the town’s technological infrastructure and administrative systems to expand online services, e-government, to citizens and businesses.”
Caguas, along with Cayey, Cidra, Gurabo, San Lorenzo, Juncos, Las Piedras, Humacao, Naguabo and Aguas Buenas, are to connect to the Inteco broadband network. More than 80,000 students in grades K-12 in the region will also have access to the network, while local service providers will get the chance to resell broadband Internet services to residents. Each town will establish a Wi-Fi hotspot to offer free wireless access to residents.
“The federal government has empirical evidenc that in countries where people have greater access to low co-st broadband services, economic development indices move in the right direction, the number of new and innovative business increases significantly, and health services improve while their costs drop,” Miranda Torres said. “The knowledge and its use to create wealth is acquired quicker by more people.”
In 2010, Inteco competed against 1,800 proposals submitted to the U.S. government for funding. The non-governmental organization was among the first 50 broadband projects to be implemented in the U.S. and its jurisdictions.
Last month, it was announced that Inteco and the Critical Hub Networks’ Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative had reached an agreement to interconnect their networks to achieve faster connections.