The central government announced its massive computer social program that will seek to hook up every corner of Costa Rica with wide -band fiber optic Internet cable.
The project also will provide some 40,000 students in rural areas with a computer and also provide one for the teacher in those schools with combined grade levels.
The money for the project come from the millions in concession payments by the two private cell phone companies that are entering into operation in the country. The projects were outlined in the law that established the concession, but the Laura Chinchilla administration is emphasizing the social aspects of the plan. The law stipulated that the funds be used for this purpose and not be placed in the government’s general fund. The money will be handled by the Fondo Nacional de Telecomunicaciones.
The Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología is supposed to set up 250 more Centros Comunitarios Inteligentes to go along with the 250 that now exist. These are like local internet cafes. The first intelligent community centers will be placed in 40 locations that are identified as being low-income, according to the plan.
The project is designed to bridge what is being called the digital divide in that many Costa Rican cannot afford the equipment for connection to the Internet and other computer activities.
By 2014 every school in the country should have wide-band Internet connection, according to the proposal. The Ministerio de Educación Pública also is involved deeply in the project. Service also will be provided for child shelters and even retirement homes and facilities operated by the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia.
The project also seeks to strengthen the Gobierno Digital, the system that is connecting all the government agencies, banks and similar. Many government services now are available online.
The project envisions an Internet connection that can handle teleconferences, voice over Internet protocol as well as other digital services.
Mrs. Chinchilla in a speech outlining the proposal noted that communities like San Pedro have 20 percent Internet connections while towns like Upala and Los Chiles have less than 1 percent.
Some 40 percent of the population do not have access to the Internet, she said.
She said she sees the Internet as a path to prosperity and development.
Absent from the summary was what agency would be responsible for placing the wires and maintaining the Internet connectivity. The public and private Internet providers were not mentioned in the presentation.