Dozens of Guyana’s remotest communities have in recent years been benefiting from free Government Wifi internet hubs, allowing residents to surf the world wide web, students to complete research assignments and sports lovers to follow events around the world just to name a few benefits.
Now, the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) is outdoing itself again, by adding a brand new telephone platform system allowing thousands of residents in remote areas in all four corners of the Country to make free Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) calls. The NDMA is a department of the Public Telecommunications Ministry. It is collaborating with Chinese high tech giant, Hauwei Technologies on the project.
The platforms are being placed at area hospitals, schools, police and other State locations so doctors, police men and women, nurses and villagers in general to place free real time VOIP calls to relatives and friends in other hinterland villages and even to the Indigenous Affairs Ministry in the City. Similar calling outlets are also in the pipeline for the Amerindian Hostel in Princess St and the brand new, recently commissioned $186 million hinterland dormitory at Liliendaal on the East Coast.
“The NDMA has sought to optimize the Wifi system by providing a phone service to what we refer to as areas which are un-served by the two big networks- Digicel and the GT&T. The Government is doing this for free to some of the remotest areas in Guyana, like Gun Strip, the southernmost village in Guyana. For example, we called Wiruni Village in the Berbice River from Gunn Strip on the southern tip of Guyana. This is a glorious day in the hinterland, for all the residents in the hinterland,” NDMA boss Floyd Levi said yesterday.
The NDMA has been using satellite technology to provide internet services to the remotest of areas and it is now adding the free phone services to more than 70 such communities. Levi said doctors in those areas can, for example, make real time calls to medical consultants in the city to get assistance during emergency surgeries and other procedures. Teachers can also conduct remote classes from the City and other districts using this technology as well. By the end of this year, more than 200 communities across the Republic will connected to the system.
“People no longer have to travel long distances and walk for several days to meet relatives. They can now connect in real time. The problem when you are using Wattsapp on the Wifi system, for instance, is that you don’t get such a service when you are way from the Wifi serving area but this system will allow for real time calls within villages, to the police, the military and Government in Georgetown using the satellite system.
He said that the hinterland telephone system can be connected to the national networks of both Digicel and GT&T in the near future, but noted that Government would have to pay for the rates for this service. “All this is part of plan by Government to bridge the digital divide, to close the technology gap between people in urban areas and the hinterland.”
Levi said that the day will soon come when live video would be added to the Wifi and Satellite systems and this would open a whole new technological world of opportunities for residents and State agencies. He argued that the connectivity system in the hinterland also has benefits for security as residents, village leaders as Joint Service representatives can report illegal overflights in real time, monitor migrant activity, illegal mining and timber activities, gun smuggling and criminal activities in general.
“The interior is no longer far. For residents, home is also no longer very far away as students at the Dorm on the East Coast can call home to the interior every single day for free” -said Levi