January 25, 2013
NTRC/LIME to offer $10 Internet under SMART project

The National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) and LIME have partnered to bring Internet access to 340 homes in St Vincent and the Grenadines for a subsidized cost of EC$10 per month.{{more}}

Administrator of the Universal Service Fund Kyron Duncan told SEARCHLIGHT that under the SMART project, 340 households will be provided with 1 megabyte per second (Mbps) for two years, at the cost of EC$10.

He said that the additional cost will be paid by the Universal Service Fund.

The SMART project is designed to provide equipment and services at schools so that persons will be able to view their classes in real time while at home, in the event that they are unable to make it to class.

Internet access is essential for the use of the technology and so LIME has partnered with the NTRC to bring their services to households across the nation.

“The NTRC believes that it is of great importance that households in the lower income bracket not be left out of the opportunities that will become available through the work in this project,” Duncan said.

Furthermore, he stated that households must meet a certain criteria to be eligible for the subsidized Internet access.

Duncan explained that to be eligible, one must not have had Internet access within the last two years and must have been on the public assistance programme of St Vincent and the Grenadines for the past 12 months.

He also said that preference will be given to households with students in grade six, form four or five and students of the Community College.

Where applicable, students must be a part of the one laptop per child programme and have a netbook computer.

The administrator pointed out that the terms and conditions that apply to residential customers also apply to the people taking part in the project.

And at the end of the two-year period, if they wish to keep the Internet access, they are required pay the normal rate.

“The hope is that the financial situations of the households improve over the two years and they are able to basically pay it,” Duncan said.

Duncan also stated that it is important to note that persons can collect their forms at any LIME store, however, individuals must keep in mind that only 340 households will be given Internet.

“There is no deadline, but only 340 households will be allowed in the programme,” he said.

The NTRC signed the contract with LIME on November 20 last year, at a cost of $1.698 million. Duncan said the NTRC is in the process of procuring the equipment.(BK)