The Government of Antigua and Barbuda continues to place a high priority on ICTs as an important tool for national development. The convergence and integration of communication networks and services, the explosive growth of the Internet and electronic commerce, along with the Government’s policy of transforming Antigua and Barbuda to a knowledge based society are having a significant effect on the economic landscape.
Human capital, lifelong learning and quality education play key roles in the development of any society.
GATE, the Government Assisted Technology Endeavour, is a multi-million dollar partnership between the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and telecommunications giant, Digicel
Digicel’s partnership with the Government on GATE will leapfrog Antigua and Barbuda’s place in today’s regional and global economy.
GATE will focus on broadband Internet connectivity, innovation, entrepreneurship, job creation and sustainability.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Honourable Dr. Edmond Mansoor describes GATE as a bold step forward in preparing Antiguans and Barbudans for the next twenty years. This future casting is representative of the visionary thinking of the Government since the Government has been thinking deeply about what citizens will require in the future.
Indeed, GATE represents Antigua’s gate to the future.
4G LTE BROADBAND
The Government of Antigua & Barbuda and Digicel are partnering on a collaborative project and are deploying cutting-edge Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) technology.
In a recent report, the Broadband Commission for Digital Development advocates that Governments around the world need to rapidly formulate and implement national multi-sectorial broadband plans or risk being seriously disadvantaged in today’s increasingly high-speed digital environment.
The report, entitled Broadband: A Platform for Progress, argues: “To optimize the benefits to society, broadband should be coordinated on a countrywide basis, promoting facilities-based competition and with policies encouraging service providers to offer access on fair market terms”.
One study suggests that every 10% increase in broadband penetration could contribute an extra 2.5% to GDP growth. Other data cited in the report suggest that, for low- and middle-income countries, a 10-percentage-point rise in broadband penetration could add up to a 1.4-percentage point rise in economic growth.
Why 4G LTE BROADBAND?
- It provides some of the highest speed, wireless broadband commercially available in the world, enabling a new world of video calling, streaming, and data transfer. Real world speeds of over 10 megabits per second will be available.
- High speed wireless broadband will be available to everyone, including the hundreds of thousands of visitors.
- Great support for next generation schools’ platform supporting video and other data intensive applications.
- Gives Antigua and Barbuda an ICT commercial advantage since the 4G LTE platform will reposition the country as the technology leader in the Caribbean, drive GDP upwards, enhance job creation and encourage inward investment.
- Gives Antiguan businesses low cost, high speed access and enables new businesses to develop.
- It will cover major urban areas, resorts and hotels.
- 85% coverage in the first phase with LTE coverage continuing to improve to a full 100% coverage based on demand.
FOUR COMPONENTS OF GATE
Component One: ICT Cadet Programme
The ICT Cadet Program, officially launched on June 14th, 2012, is a recruitment initiative that targets individuals who have completed secondary school. In the first phase of the program, two hundred seventy-five (275) persons will acquire technical skills as well as gain valuable work place experience. Cadets will receive hands-on training in four distinct blocks:
In the Computer Diagnostics, Repairs and Upgrades block, cadets will work alongside hardware technicians and acquire practical hands-on skills in infrastructure support, project design, network cabling design, systems analysis and design, and systems management. These cadets will provide direct support for all requests for hardware repairs and upgrades from Government offices.
In the Connect Antigua & Barbuda Initiative block, which is a program currently serving various communities and schools through the provision of Community Technology Officers, Community Computer Access Centers (CACs) and Mobile IT Classrooms, cadets will be given real-world work experience in the Computer Access Centers and Mobile IT Classrooms as Community Technology Officers.
Support for Community Projects is another block that will see benefit from work experience in community projects and programs that the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Science and Technology has already established, including the GATE program, as cadets will be intrinsically involved in the rollout of 4G LTE computer tablets to thousands of students.
The Cadets will be expected to master the operating systems of the new 4G LTE devices, assist in the roll-out of new ICT projects, and provide administrative support to existing and new community projects.
In the New Media block, which is directed at digital media production that is interactive, cadets will gain practical and hands-on experience in script writing and web journalism, video filming and editing, digital photography, graphic design and web marketing.
All ICT cadets will be expected to utilize the business incubator units that are being established at the GATE headquarters. Small and micro ICT businesses will spring from these business incubator units.
One thousand cadets are expected to be trained over a three year period.
Component two: e-Education Computer Tablets and e-education Connectivity
The Ministry of Information has begun implementing a master plan that will see the deployment of advanced wireless technologies to all secondary school students.
- GATE will utilize cutting edge technology to help teachers bring more collaboration and interactivity into the classroom. Secondary school students will be allocated a modern, 4G LTE enabled computer tablet and 4G LTE broadband Internet connectivity that will transform student learning and increase student-teacher engagement. These students will benefit directly from 4G LTE connectivity Mondays to Fridays from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Internet access will be available at home, at school and on the way to school.
- This component will commence with students in Forms 3 to 5 and will expand to include all secondary school students. Upon completion, up to 6000 students will benefit from this component.
- Students and families will be offered discounted evening and weekend packages to ensure the whole family can benefit from this new technology.
- Students will leverage on the expanding world of incredibly powerful education-centric and subject-specific applications that are available via these computer tablets. In fact, the Ministry of Information is developing a directory of the Best Web Sites for Teachers as well as the best applications (apps) in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and special education.
- 4G LTE enabled smart boards will be made available on a phased basis to secondary schools, significantly modernizing the teaching and learning environments.
- A platform will be developed around the computer tablet devices and the 4G LTE network to support an educational hub using cloud computing.
Component three: 4G LTE Connectivity for Government (e-Government)
The operations of Central Government will also be positively impacted, as GATE will propel forward the e-Government agenda as the Government modernizes the way it provides services to the citizenry.
1000 dongles will be provisioned with 4G LTE connectivity enabling even remote Government offices to receive high-speed broadband Internet connectivity. This 4G LTE connectivity will be available for five years, in the first instance.
Government will be able to deploy e-Government solutions at revenue collection points and locations where Government provides services to the public. The Passport Office, Immigration Department, Lands and Survey Department, High Court Registry, Mt. St. John’s Medical Centre, District Medical Clinics are among those agencies that will be positively impacted.
Government will leverage on this 4G LTE platform to deploy closed circuit TV (CCTV) technology to improve national security as well as to offer telemedicine services at the Mt. St. John’s Medical Centre.
Component four: Multipurpose ICT Training Facility and Special Needs Resource Center
Commencing in the fourth quarter of 2012, Digicel will construct on state owned lands a multi-purpose ICT Training Facility and Special Needs Resource Center in the Michael’s Mount area.
The facility, which will be outfitted with 4G LTE enabled computers and smart boards, will serve over 2700 students at six schools: Seventh Day Adventist, Mary E. Pigott, Ottos Comprenhensive, Baptist Academy, St. John’s Lutheran and Minoah Magnet Academy. The Roman Catholic Pastoral Centre, as well as members of other non-governmental, community-based and faith-based organizations will be trained in this facility.
This ICT training facility will also house a special needs resource center, which will be specifically designed to enhance the ICT training of adults and children with special needs (physical, hearing and visually challenged persons).
4G LTE is Antigua and Barbuda’s Game Changer
As Antigua and Barbuda becomes the Technology Hub for the Caribbean, international investment in the ICT sector is increasing with more ICT development industries on island.
Education at all levels is being modernized.
Five star hotels have world class communication to compete globally.
Mobile banking has gotten a major boost.
Small and micro enterprises are competing globally.
Antigua and Barbuda…… an international leader in ICTs… now with 4G LTE technology…..powered by DIGICEL.