- Related: Internet Providers Detail Plans to Keep V.I. Connected During Pandemic (VI Source)
The Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) hosted a live Zoom webinar on the State of Internet Connectivity in the U.S. Virgin Islands on September 2, 2020. Featured panelists were Daryl Wade, Chief Information Officer, Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN); Kevin Hughes, Chief Marketing Officer, Broadband VI; and Morris Reid, Chief Technology Officer, VIYA.
Among the issues covered: what problems have been identified with connectivity since the onset of COVID-19, what short terms plans are in progress to address these problems, and what is currently being done to address student needs.
viNGN is a “Middle-Mile”, wholesaler provider of 100% fiber optic transport to local Internet Services Providers, and the impact of COVID-19 is evident in a number of ways. The already present “Digital Divide” was magnified by the sudden need for telework and home learning, as well as individuals now spending more time at home and using the Internet for meetings, entertainment, gaming and other online activities. Underserved areas are sometimes called “Broadband Deserts” – lacking high-speed Internet services to homes and facilities.
A new need has arisen for connectivity in spaces that are conducive to learning and productivity, that are safe and support COVID-19 prevention compliance. There has also been a shift in the way we conduct business – how government agencies and companies provide service to the public with more remote options, apps and portals in use.
The industry has responded in several ways, including the lifting of “data caps” to allow unfettered access; YouTube and other content providers have modified their content delivery to reduce bandwidth consumption; wireless companies have been granted more access to spectrum (radio frequencies available for mobile communication); viNGN has also provided collaborative guidance to USVI agencies and ISP partners to better meet demand.
Following the presentations, a question and answer session followed. VIEDA has made the webinar available on-demand via its Facebook page.