Hopes Still High for V.I. Broadband Initiative

(Originally posted on my Facebook page, thought I’d share it here!)

Meeting with Sen. Malone on Broadband Initiative in the USVI – 10/07/11

davismalonemingsSenator Shawn Michael Malone met with two members of the Facebook group VI Consortium Peritissimos Technology today regarding the ongoing work towards our participation in the Broadband Initiative in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The two members of the group that were present did not speak FOR the group as a whole, but as individuals, we did wish to find out from the Senator how things are going with the Broadband Initiative.

Photo from Stanford Mings (VI Technical Services and group member)

The VINGN or Virgin Islands Next Generation Network, applied for a federal grant to participate in the President Barack Obama’s Broadband Initiative (BBI) to augment the communications infrastructure of cities across the nation, while offering help for underserved areas and populations to implement high speed information highways for internet service providers, businesses, governments and other entities, to utilize for redundancy (a system goes down, another takes over in a seamless transition) as well as improving the amounts of data that may be shared and transferred within and outside of the territory. Portions of the BBI will provide for free internet access centers as well, for those who do not have computers or cannot afford the service.

This is all a matter of public record: this entity (VINGN) has been found by the federal government to be lacking in terms of its structure, staffing, and human resources, and the funding drawdown has been stopped, leaving our local government in the lurch with local contractors, and seriously jeopardizing the USVI’s participation in this incredibly timely and worthwhile program.

SeSenator Shawn Michael Malone, as Chairman of the Economic Development, Technology and Agriculture of the 29th Legislature, has taken on the task of essentially becoming the project manager for this initiative, to get us into compliance and act as a liaison to assure the federal government that we are taking this participation and our obligations very seriously. He shared quite a bit of information, and due to the ongoing nature of the talks, meetings and negotiations as well as analyses, he is unable to make too much public at this time… but he is very confident that the team is clear on the correct track for us to follow, and he is highly optimistic about our making the grade so that the implementation of the Broadband Initiative here in the United States Virgin Islands becomes a reality.

I truly appreciate my friend Stanford Mings, Jr. (owner of V.I. Technical Services) and a member of the Facebook group begun by Terence A. Thomas, “VI Consortium Peritissimos Technology”, for setting up this meeting at which both he and I were present, discussing this project with Sen. Malone. In my opinion, Malone is very much in tune with technology; he is comfortable with it, and he is not afraid to ask a question. I am certain that his oversight of this project has brought him much in the way of knowledge, as he has sought out a variety of individuals for their expertise and knowledge on both our existing internet communications infrastructure and what is possible with bleeding-edge technology, not just getting any old thing going, but following the most current industry standards and best practices possible.

My take-away: I feel that we will see this happen, and I am thrilled with the idea that the world will be at our collective fingertips. No longer will tourism be the only external trade industry of which we can be proud. Data centers, webhosting companies, finance corporations, and countless cottage industries will boost the economic strength of the USVI and by extension the world, as we feel free to exchange in commercial activities (dollars change hands many times once they hit the air). More companies offering services means greater variety and pricing options for consumers. Cash flow boosts community confidence, hiring, and professional standards as research and development, upgrades and staffing fuel the companies that make our islands tick. We can and we SHOULD do this.

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