Yesterday Governor John de Jong (D-USVI) signed into law a bill that would authorize the U.S. Virgin Islands to issue bonds to finance a $70 million broadband initiative. Part of the funding comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program.
Broadband, although technically available in the territory, is not affordable and is subject to the slowest speeds in the United States. Concerns about staff salaries for the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network, the entity that will oversee deployment of the middle mile facilities, and confusion over how the matching funds would be used almost torpedoed the initiative.
Virgin Islands politics make stateside politics look squeaky clean. I ought to know. I’m from there.
Anyway, kudos to VINGN’s chief executive, Julito Francis, for pushing through an initiative that Governor de Jong rightfully describes as “critical to the economic, educational, and social development of the Virgin Islands.”