Since the official launch of the government’s ParkConnect project last August, BTC has powered 42 parks throughout The Bahamas with Wi-Fi, completing 32 in 2022 and connecting 10 in the first quarter of 2023.
ParkConnect is a social initiative introduced by the Government to bridge the digital divide by providing free internet access at designated constituency parks and community centers throughout The Bahamas. The move is a collaborative effort of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, in partnership with BTC and other utility providers.
Of the 10 parks recently connected, nine are in New Providence and one on Crooked Island. The nine parks include: Golden Gates Straight Park, McPherson Park, Pastel Gardens Park, Gambier Park, Silver Gates Park, Winton Meadows Park, Bishop Alvin Moss Park and Mother Francis Park in Bain Town. Residents of Colonel Hill Crooked Island can also visit that settlement’s park and easily connect to BTC-powered Wi-Fi.
Parks in Exuma and South Andros are expected to be completed by the end of Q2, and it is BTC’s intention to complete most of the remaining parks assigned by the end of Q2.
“We are happy to have partnered with the government of The Bahamas as it seeks to implement a digital transformation strategy with the aim of closing the digital divide,” said Andre Knowles, BTC’s Director of Business. “BTC has used top notch equipment to ensure steady, reliable, secure, and long-range high-speed internet with real time reporting to connect each park.”
According to Knowles, Wi-Fi in the Park has proven to be a game changer because it removes the barrier of internet access due to income and other variables.
BTC has maintained a solid partnership with the Government when it comes to ensuring that the ParkConnect project is seamlessly executed, meeting with various government bodies on a weekly basis to maintain a clear and consistent channel of communication. The Company has also assigned a dedicated project manager as a primary point of contact to fulfill all governmental requirements in a timely manner.
Wayde Watson, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs says the service that BTC offers to ensure that various parks throughout The Bahamas are connected to Wi-Fi has been nothing short of “exceptional”.
“Because of BTC’s reach when it comes to their telecommunications infrastructure, the Company was able to facilitate the government in making certain that we are able to bridge the digital divide; not only in New Providence but also in the Family Islands so that citizens can have access to information and data,” Watson said. “I also look forward to our continued work with BTC as getting these parks connected is a part of the government’s blueprint for change on its digital agenda.”
Continued Mr. Watson: “The feedback from residents has also been exceptional. The ability to gain access to information and data free of charge is a good thing. We haven’t had many complaints with respect to downtime, the inability to access or speed, so customers are very grateful. And if I could quote [talk show host] Darold Miller, Wi-Fi on the park is the best intervention of any government in the last 30 years.”
The Arthur’s Town Park as well as the Regatta Site Park in New Bight Cat Island were the first to receive Wi-Fi when the initial ParkConnect project was launched last August. The Arthur’s Town Park is adjacent to Arthur’s Town High School and eleventh grade students Marcus Thacker and Deitrick Bethel says they would access the internet on the park at least three times a week to conduct research. “Having the internet on the park is beneficial because I can move away from the classroom after school to get my homework done,” Bethel said.
Thacker added: “I would say that having internet access on the park is a great initiative offered by BTC because I can use my phone to surf the internet or to contact my mother to let her know my whereabouts in the evening, and I don’t have to worry about having data.”
Since its launch, BTC was assigned to connect 60 parks to Wi-Fi. And with a total of 18 parks remaining for connection, the majority of these – some 80 percent – will be in the Family Islands.