My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel to build Barbados Government Wide Area Network while rolling out Digicel Play

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Digicel to build Barbados Government Wide Area Network while rolling out Digicel Play

During the first year of this project, December 2015 to November 2016, of the new telephony installation, Government will pay nothing for the phone system. From December 2016 and onwards, the cost of phones will be reduced to $90,000. When other departments become connected, the [WAN] solution will observe savings of up to 53 per cent”.

Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart commenting on their contract with Barbados Government for a WAN

Barbados is truly a very, very small little island. No offense to Bajans reading my article, as I love your Crop Over and I hope 2016 will be bangin'.

So it's nice to see Digicel Barbados step up to the challenge of providing internet access with a WAN (Wide area Network) as reported in the article “Digicel secures major ICT contract with Barbados Government”, published Monday 21 December, 2015, SKNVibes.

The WAN is the result of a 5 year contract with the Government of Barbados valued at US$2.4M to provide Islandwide Internet access as well as DIA (Dedicated Internet Access). Put simply, this is a really large Fiber Optic Network specifically aimed at powering Barbados Government workers with Internet as well as their e-Government initiative as detailed in Barbados e-Government Program Status Update.

Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced the collaboration with the Telecom Provider, citing the fact that it would reduce the cost of implement a paper-free Government, quote: “When other departments become connected, the [WAN] solution will observe savings of up to 53 per cent”.

The Barbados Government has already paid over some  US$776,800 of the contract to begin work on the Barbados Government WAN, which is expected to reduce the cost of calling within the Government Ministries as noted in the article “Digicel wins Government contract”, published December 16, 2015 George Alleyne, Barbados Today.

So who exactly is this WAN for in Barbados?

Barbados WAN – Reducing the Telecoms cost of running the Barbados Government

Being as the island isn't that large, this would probably be the equivalent of setting up a Wi-Fi Network in the parish of Kingston. The Barbados Government WAN will provide the following services:

1.      Email
2.      Internet
3.      Line of business applications
4.      Telephony

It's expected to reduce communication across several ministries, particularly:

1.      Civil Aviation department
2.      Ministry of Energy
3.      Ministry of the Civil Service
4.      Personnel Administrative Department
5.      Telecoms Unit

When constructed, it will but Barbados way ahead of many Government in the region, as they'd be one of the first with their own private, secure WAN, built and maintained under by Digicel on contract but using Internet capacity that they would provision themselves.

So is the Barbados Government WAN a truly unique concept in the Caribbean?

The Barbados Government WAN - Government of Jamaica's GovNET with a 22% VAT

The Barbados Government WAN is very similar in concept to Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell's proposal for a GovNET (Government Network) which I’d written about in October 2014 in my blog article entitled “National Work Agency building islandwide Public Emergency Network - Early indications of GOVNet WAN and ITA-run Automated Traffic Ticketing System”.

Planning for the GovNET had started back in August 2011 with a consultancy team as part of a Public Sector Transformation Project working out a suitable business model as well as working out the cheapest way to build out the Network Infrastructure over the next five (5) years up to 2017

The Theory I've long held is that the Government of Jamaica, being as out island is much larger, would opt to use private Fiber Optic connectivity to interconnect the various Government ministries, most of which are located in Kingston.

They would share this Fiber Optic capacity with the National Work Agency, who are setting up a islandwide Public Emergency Network to monitor all Government Agencies, not just ministries as well as have CCTV Cameras installed at Traffic lights as predicted in my blog article entitled “GOJ to upgrade NWA's CCTV Traffic Monitoring Network to give Police more eyes in Private Places - The Da Vinci Code for Automated Traffic Ticketing System and 1984”.

This makes sense, as the level of traffic generated by the Government ministries and their executive agencies isn't 24/7; the Government employees must go to sleep at some point.

The High School that will be connected to the CAP (Community Access Points) that support the TIS (Tablet in Schools) Project, part of the E-Learning Project, will also be using this GovNET as predicted in my blog article entitled “TIS Project a Success with Boys - JA$9000 Subsidized Tablets, 600,000 Students getting e-books come September 2015”.

So when that happens, at night-time the NWA (National Works Agency) and Jamaican Police would use the GovNET to carry traffic from their network of CCTV Cameras islandwide as further explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “Jamaica’s National Security Ministry plans CCTV Network and Automated Traffic Ticketing System”.

It's possible that GovNET will be built using Linux File Servers to provide an added layer of security for their Databases as noted in my blog article entitled “GOJ securing Government Websites against Hackers - Linux-based GovNET to remove Windows vulnerabilities and change Human Behaviour”.

The Barbados WAN with CAP - Collecting 22% VAT, one Wi-Fi Connection at a Time

The Government of Barbados may be taking this all into consideration.

Especially the idea of extending Internet access to all Barbadians via setting up CAP (Community Access Points) and then applying the 22% VAT (Value Added Tax) as announced in my blog article entitled “How to Barbados 22% VAT will raise BDS$14 million to create University Scholarships for Bajans” as the island is kinda small!

General Manager for Digicel Business, Martin Keogh, in commenting on their contract with Barbados Government for a WAN, promises savings, quote: “Thanks to Digicel Business, the Government will see substantial savings; but the benefits run wider than cost savings alone”.

Quite true, as they’ll pay nothing for phone calling in all of 2016 according to Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart!

Mr. Martin Keogh also promises faster Internet speeds, hinting at the fact that the Barbados WAN will be Fiber Optic and Triple Play, quote: “The operating efficiency means every Government body connected to the WAN can transmit data up to 100 hundred times faster than previously, and extends into voice, video, mobility, messaging, conferencing, instant messaging and contact centre.

This will put Barbados way ahead of even Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, who are yet to set up their Government WAN, despite plans being announced in their Parliaments, to quote Martin Keogh: “So this is a spectacular leap for Barbados in becoming a knowledge-based economy and we salute the Government for aptly leading this transformation”.

This suggests that Digicel Play, not in Jamaica as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled  How “Digicel Play will spread the Gospel of Fiber Optic this Christmas” is slowly being rolled out in Barbados.

Digicel is currently in the process of setting up Digicel Play in Barbados, providing super fast Internet to the 800 plus business on the island. As the five year progress, the Barbados Government might also have CAP's in minds as a means of increasing Internet Access across the island.

Bajans could access the Internet either free or via using Voucher Credit with the 22% VAT added.

All in a bid to raise some BDS$14 million (JA$840 million) annually to fund University scholarships as they built out their one-of-a-kind Barbados Government WAN over the next five years....if it'll really take that long.

Here’s the link:

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