680 household to benefit from subsidized Internet
Six-hundred and eighty households and 2,900 students who received digital tablets from the government are expected to benefit from an initiative by the NTRC.
On Wednesday, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) said 680 households will benefit from the second phase of their SMART Project – Subsidized Internet initiative and the 2,900 tablet holders will be beneficiaries of a program called the SIM Card initiative.
During a launch on Facebook live, Managing Director of the NTRC Apollo Knights said the first phase of the SMART Project – Subsidized Internet initiative took place four years ago and saw 340 households receiving Internet at a subsidized cost of EC$10 per month for two years.
Knights said the households were asked to pay EC$10 and the NTRC paid the remainder of the cost to FLOW.
“So based on that, when we did the new SMART project last year, we decided to do a further 680 households,” Knights explained, noting that they started with 340 households around March last year and that was timely because of COVID-19.
“…And we will be doing another 340 starting from today (Wednesday 10),” Knights said, explaining that the subsidy will last for two years and includes households receiving a fixed connection with a modem to share WIFI.
To qualify for this subsidy, consumers must not currently or over the last two years have had an Internet connection at their home.
“You can’t come off of it to save money. We will check,” Knights said.
The SIM Card initiative targets students who have received tablets through the government program.
These individuals will receive Digicel SIM cards with 40 gigabytes of data monthly. They will also have free access to Microsoft Teams which is the learning platform being used by most schools.
Accessing the Microsoft Teams platform will not use up the 40 gigabytes of data.
“Digicel will offer that (Microsoft Teams) free. Once you are doing meetings via that application it would not use that data so the 40 can be used for other things,” Knights explained.
The NTRC is the covering the cost of the first 1100 SIM cards and Digicel will provide the remainder.
This program will last until the end of June, as the NTRC tries its best to cover persons who don’t have Internet connections at home. The SIM cards will however be given one for each home and the holder is expected to share the data, through the hotspot feature, with other students in the household to whom the government has given digital devices.
“We know sometimes there are two students in a home with tablets so we won’t give that home two SIM cards because it is possible to share the WIFI hotspot from one tablet to another tablet and other devices. So once you have one SIM you can share that,” Knights said.
The SMART Project – Subsidized Internet initiative will however last for the next two years.
He said some homes may have no Internet and no tablet from the government initiative, but may have some other device, so the SMART Project – Subsidized Internet initiative may match their needs.
Application forms for both initiatives are available on the NTRC website, www.ntrc.vc or from the NTRC’s office located in the National Insurance Services (NIS) building on Upper Bay Street.
They may be also had from the various police stations throughout the island, at the community centre on Mayreau and at Radio Grenadines office on Union Island.
Forms may be filled out and a photo taken and sent to the NTRC’s WhatsApp number, 498-8292.
Knights said every effort is being made to make the process as easy as possible to avoid lines and also because finding some persons who apply for the initiatives can be challenging.
He said last year some persons applied, leaving a phone number, and the number did not work when the NTRC tried contacting them.
“So please use a working phone number,” he appealed while adding that one must also list the number of the closest utility and the closest neighbour to help locate the home.
A photo of the back and front of the national identification card must also be sent.