The Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative plans to provide fast, affordable broadband connectivity for last-mile Internet service providers and underserved areas of Puerto Rico, including the islands of Culebra and Vieques, by establishing a broadband “bridge” to the United States mainland and deploying a high-capacity middle-mile network on the Island. The project plans to purchase a 10 Gbps undersea fiber-optic cable directly connecting to Miami and deploy more than 180 miles of terrestrial middle-mile microwave network using 11 towers.
The network will offer speeds from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps to anchor institutions and last-mile providers. More than 1,700 community anchor institutions are expected to be directly connected, including more than 1,500 K-12 schools.
The Greatest Crisis in our Lifetime
The nation’s economy is facing an extraordinary crisis, unlike any since the Great Depression. The ARRA represents a strategic – and significant – investment in the future of the United States, including Puerto Rico. ARRA was designed to spur increased economic activity that will save and create more than one million jobs. Broadband networks are an increasingly integral part of the economy. As the technology evolves and bandwidth increases, the scope for broadband to act as an enabler of structural change in the economy expands as it affects an increasing number of sectors and activities. Direct effects result from investments in the technology and from rolling out the infrastructure. Indirect effects come from broadband’s impact on factors driving growth, such as innovation, competition and globalization. Broadband facilitates the development of new inventions, new and improved goods and services, new processes, new business models, and it increases competitiveness and flexibility in the economy. The Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative is an unprecedented initiative aimed at harnessing the power of the Internet, to help solve our island’s economic crisis. PRBI brings together Internet Service Providers, government and users in an innovative solution focused on solving the problems behind Puerto Rico’s lagging broadband network
There is no doubt about it – speed matters. Speed defines what is possible on the Internet. It will define the economy and our way of life in the 21st century. The Communication Workers of America (CWA) has been inviting Internet users in the US& Puerto Rico to test their bandwidth speeds at www.speedmatters.org. This year the CWA published a report ranking the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia
Puerto Rico’s rank? 52 out of 52.
Based on CWA’s report, the national median download speed was 2.3 megabits per second. Puerto Rico’s median download speed was 499 kilobits per second, or about 78% slower than the national median. The FCC defines basic broadband as “download speeds between 768Kbps and 1.5Mbps”. Hence, Puerto Rico’s median download speed means that residents of Puerto Rico do not even enjoy basic broadband speed.
Can We Keep Up in the Broadband Race?
In 2008, 60% of United States households had broadband Internet access, according to a report just released by Strategy Analytics. Puerto Rico is not included on this list, but a 2007 report from P.Budde Communications stated that only 10% of households in Puerto Rico had broadband Internet access.
Closing the Digital Divide
To catch up, we need to close the Digital Divide – the gap between those who benefit from digital technology, and those who do not.
Economic Divide: As Internet access becomes more expensive, those households with lower income levels are falling behind. In the United States, only 37% of households with annual income levels less than $30,000 have broadband. With Puerto Rico’s median household income less than $18,000, most households cannot afford broadband. As a result, broadband penetration on the island is at extremely low levels.
Geographic Divide: Universal access is a cornerstone of U.S. communications law. Yet, we’re a long way from ensuring that all residents of Puerto Rico have access to telephone, television and cable tv services. Similarly, access to broadband services is not universal in Puerto Rico.
Racial/Ethnic Divide: In the United States, less than 35% of Hispanic/Latino households subscribe to broadband Internet access, while 55% of non-hispanic white households are connected. Broadband can help to address many inequities that continue to pervade our nation – in our schools, our communities, our homes and our workplaces.
Fast, Affordable Broadband Internet for All
The Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative (PRBI) will:
- Make broadband affordable for all
- Make broadband universally available
- Increaste broadband speeds
- Reduce per megabit prices
- Mandate all PRBIR ISP’s to offer a 25% discount to all educational institutions, libraries, health care and public safety providers
- Provide peering to government agency public computer facilities, including the web sites of Hacienda and the Department of Education
- Help eliminate the digital divide, by encouraging the development of Public Computer Access & Training Centers in unserved and underserved communities
- Encourage competition and provide Puerto Ricans with a choice of broadband providers
When will the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative be operational?
The bridge is a “shovel-ready” project. If our grant proposal is successful, we expect the bridge to be operational during the first quarter of 2010.
Who is Critical Hub Networks Inc.
Critical Hub Networks, Inc., a Puerto Rico corporation, is the owner & operator of Caribe.Net, Puerto Rico’s first Internet Service Provider (ISP). Since its creation in 1994, Caribe.Net has recognized the importance of universal Internet access, and has dedicated time, resources and money into ensuring the expansion & growth of the Internet on our beautiful island, including the support, training and facilitation of the development of other ISPs. Caribe.Net believes competition is good, and has gone out of its way to support its own competitors. Caribe.Net’s leadership in the industry makes it ideal to champion this historic, unifying effort between ISPs, government, unserved & underserved communities, and our four million residents.
Who and how can take advantage of the Bridge
Fast, Affordable Broadband Internet for All
Are you a Community anchor institution?
- Medical and healthcare providers
- Public safety entity
- Community college
- Institutions of higher education
- Community support organization
- Agency that provides outreach, access,equipment, and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including low-income, the unemployed, and the aged.
If you qualify as a community anchor institution and the steering committee approves your application your institution can receive 25% discount on your broadband bill from one of our internet service providers partners. Expanding broadband capabilities for community anchor institutions will result in substantial benefits for the entire community, delivering improved education, healthcare, and economic development.
Are you a Small business owner or Residential users?
The Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative gives you the opportunity through our partners to enjoy a high quality broadband connection at the best prices. If you don’t have access to facilities that offer broadband service we will gather your information and in conjunction with our partners develop a strategy to make this services available to your region. How can you help? By supporting the Puerto Rico Bridge partners you are helping to build a more robust economy for all Puerto Ricans. PRBI is in the process of developing an application that will allow us to track the areas of greater need and target them. Please visit our website often for these updates.
Are you an Internet Service Provider?
If you’re not currently a ISP partner to the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative you can still join. Becoming a partners gives you access to the best high quality and low price network in Puerto Rico. You could receive discounts to expands your network if the steering committee approves your request. Become an engine for the development of Puerto Rico 21st century economy and at the same time enjoy an unlimited potential of growth. Only 32% of Puerto Rico households subscribe to the internet. This could be your opportunity to make a change. For more information please contact us.
Are you a applying for ARRA funding?
Most of the competitive funds made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 give higher score to those applications that leverage other ARRA funds. The Puerto Rico bridge initiative is interested in helping any other application that will benefit our island. If you want our support or our help on the development of new proposal please contact us.