If Stephan Adams is successful, there won’t be a square inch of the US Virgin Islands without a wireless internet signal.
Using an alphabetical soup of government funding programs, Adams, president and CEO of viNGN – the Virgin Islands’ next-generation network – plans to bring Wi-Fi parks, ports, schools , hospitals, beaches, social housing, shopping districts, community centers, government offices and street corners. The viNGN operates a federally funded fiber optic network in the territory and is 100% owned by the VI government.
“This is just the beginning,” Adams told the Housing, Transportation and Telecommunications Legislative Committee. “We have 176 hotspots. By the time we are done with this program, we will have over 1000 hotspots. There will be no place you can go in the territory where you can’t go without going to viNGN hotspots and it will be free.
Digitally Underserved and Underserved U.S. Virgin Islanders Could Benefit from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program, the Digital Equity Act Program, the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, and the American Rescue Plan Act for Public Wi-Fi and broadband service between homes, says Adams.
He said federal programs are consistent with local goals of Governor Albert Bryan Jr.
“The USVI Broadband Office has developed a strategic framework of our strategy to execute the goals and objectives of the Biden-Harris administration’s Internet for All program. This strategy incorporates Governor Bryan’s Wi-Fi for All initiative funded by other federal grants to viNGN. The first is for the free nationwide rollout of Wi-Fi as part of a $582,000 CARES Act grant for distance education. The second is a “pending” $10.8 million ARPA grant to deploy Wi-Fi in support of telemedicine. Both initiatives have a secondary goal of providing general community Wi-Fi,” Adams said.
The White House’s Internet for All initiative, made possible by the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, will invest $45 billion to bring affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet to everyone in America by the end of the decade, a said Adams. The initiative is administered and implemented by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the US Department of Commerce.
“Community engagement is critical to the success of NTIA Broadband programs,” Adams said. “My office will be on a months-long listening tour to get actionable feedback.”
Adams said the review of public Wi-Fi is important not only for residents, but also for the tourism industry which is looking to attract digital nomads who can work anywhere using high-speed bandwidth. .
“It’s a selling point for the Virgin Islands,” he said.