Today, we held a Press Event broadcast live over Radio One, WVWI to mark a historic occasion: the completion of the only 100% all fiber optic, interconnected jurisdiction among all 56 states and territories, as well as a number of partnerships and initiatives to benefit our people and economy.
The picturesque Charlotte Amalie Harbor was the location that we chose. And as we looked across the glistening turquoise waters to St. Croix and beyond, the large merchant ships that once graced our Harbor have been replaced by two submarine cables containing high-speed fiber-optic strands connecting our islands and positioning our Territory as a center of electronic commerce, a global thoroughfare, and a technological gateway – a virtual portal – from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the rest of the world.
Today, we celebrate our future as we are now positioned to emerge as a technological leader in the Caribbean, the States, and the world. This, my fellow Virgin Islanders, is our transformation, this is the Next Generation of the Virgin Islands. When the nationwide broadband initiative began, we were #56 out of 56 states and territories in the Union. As it is written “so the last shall be first” – we in the Virgin Islands are poised to be #1, no longer will we be last, we will emerge… it is our time to shine.
We were pleased to welcome a number of individuals to the podium to announce partnerships that will bear rich fruits for the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands! First off, Innovative which has upgraded its infrastructure and will now be able to reach businesses and homes with fiber, “Powered by viNGN”. Likewise, Broadband VI has made a commitment to Fiber to the Home, also “Powered by viNGN”!
A great source of pride for me, is the fact that this world-class market leading network that we are so proud of, was designed and built by Virgin Islanders just like you. We are your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents, cousins, friends, classmates, neighbors, Church members, professors…we are Virgin Islanders who live here and LOVE our home. Tremendous talent is right here in the Territory and most of it remains untapped. We have the potential, right here. And we plan to unleash this potential with FORCE.
St. Croix’s St. Joseph High School is hosting its first IT Academy in a partnership with Innovative, a CISCO Academy. Students graduate with 7 certifications; and our participation is the sponsorship of the first class of students, providing them with 3 job openings, a bridge program to UVI IST or CSC program, plus free Internet provided by Broadband VI. This is just the pilot program, with plans to expand to St. Thomas next year.
This is only the beginning. With 33 free Public Computer Centers in the territory, we are now poised to offer free computer training and outreach programs to residents of all ages, as well as opportunities to give back to the community. There are so many more partnerships to announce – partnerships with the RTPark, EDA, Tourism, WAPA, and many ISPs to come. This is only the start of our renaissance – our Technological Revolution, and we celebrate.