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Syracuse University co-sponsors international forum to spur Internet access in Caribbean nations
Syracuse University co-sponsors international forum to spur Internet access in Caribbean nationsFebruary 07, 2003Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
In a country such as the United States, where the vast majority of businesses, industry, schools and households have access to the latest broadband technologies and the Internet, it’s hard to imagine that in the Eastern Caribbean only about 5 percent of the population can connect to the World Wide Web.
“We currently do not have the infrastructure that enables the steady growth of Internet access in our country,” says Courtney Jackson, deputy director general in the Jamaican Office of Utilities Regulation. “Our goal is to do whatever is necessary to bring about a rapid increase in the number of households, schools and businesses that have access to the Internet.”
With that goal in mind, Jackson sought the expertise of Syracuse University’s Lee McKnight, associate professor in the School of Information Studies, to help organize a gathering of some of the foremost experts in telecommunications, information technology, and policy. The result is the first “Jamaican Internet Forum: Expanding Internet Access-Issues and Solutions,” which is being held Feb. 20-21 in Ocho Rios. Conference sponsors are the Jamaican Office of Utilities Regulation; the Jamaican Ministry of Commerce, Science and Technology; the Jamaican Broadcasting and Fair Trading Commissions; The United States Agency for International Development; the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and SU’s School of Information Studies’ Convergence Center.
McKnight and SU’s Jon P. Gant, assistant professor in the School of Information Studies and in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, will lead a team of experts in a two-day discussion that will focus on such topics as Caribbean Internet business and policy, Internet-traffic aggregation strategies, international trends in wireless communications, Internet usage in the Caribbean, technology platforms for Internet access, and models and programs for improving access. McKnight and Gant are leading international experts in the areas of bandwidth markets, Internet economics, telecommunications and information technology policy, e-government and wireless communications.
“The goal of the forum is to bring the latest insights from leading researchers, policy makers and business leaders to the table for discussion and debate,” McKnight says. “Our interests as researchers in the School of Information Studies lie in extending our expertise by learning from practitioners to assist developing nations deploy information technologies to spur economic and social development.”
To that end, McKnight has helped gather experts from SU, Tufts and Harvard universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to lead a series of presentations at the forum. Presenters also include representatives from industry, the U.S. and Caribbean governments and the nonprofit sector.
“It is widely recognized that our governments need to take significant action to remove impediments and promote greater access to information technology,” Jackson says. “We need a coherent plan and consistent policies that will help ensure a significant increase in access across the entire Eastern Caribbean. We hope the conference will help us develop new approaches and solutions to the problems we face.”
The School of Information Studies at Syracuse University is a leading center for innovative programs in information policy, information behavior, information management, information systems, information technology and information services. The school has professional degree programs at the undergraduate and master’s levels and a research degree at the doctoral level. The school also has a distance education program at the graduate level.
Officially chartered in 1870 as a private, coeducational institution of higher education, Syracuse University is a leading student-centered research university with 11 schools and colleges. The 680-acre campus is home to more than 18,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and 90 countries.