Posts Tagged ‘jorge santini’
There’s been a bit of controversy in recent weeks over San Juan, Puerto Rico mayor Jorge Santini’s plan to provide free Wi-Fi to the residents of the country’s largest housing project.
Santini said the initiative at the Luis Llorens Torres complex, a sprawling development located a few miles from the island’s principal airport, will be the first step towards rolling out the service throughout the city.
His announcement was understandably panned by many, coming as it did in the heart of his reelection campaign. But the pro-statehood mayor is widely favored to win his fourth term in November; this decision won’t likely result in new voters coming to his side. Aside from these political ramifications, though, there has been little talk of the overall digital divide in the country.
Recently, the Puerto Rico Broadband Taskforce declared that just 31% of island homes have broadband access, less than half the adoption rate in the US. But this public-private partnership appears to rely on private industry to build the necessary infrastructure to increase broadband availability and adoption. Which has not exactly worked out well in many US cities.
As more public and private services move online, it is critical for the government to
provide the infrastructure to make high-speed internet widely available. But for whatever reason, the Puerto Rico government is ignoring the player that could quickly get this done throughout the island.
The local power utility has the technology already in place. Last year they rolled out a WiMax proyect in a small community in the southeastern town of Salinas. Why not expand this to other areas of the country?
In the end, it’s about jobs. The working poor and unemployed need access to current technologies. But they also need employment training and improved educational opportunities. That’s where true leadership is needed, and it’s still the hard reality that simply providing a fast internet connection won’t solve on its own.