Nirad Tewari-CEO TTCSI with Yohan Sambrano Head of Marketing Blink Broadband, Rubadiri Victor and Mahindra Satram Maharaj Chairman of NCDF along with other mas stakeholders
The Internet is a portal for access to a multitude of business, social, professional, educational, entertainment apps and other content. Yet for all of its pervasiveness, use of the Internet to improve business and education remains an important challenge for decision makers in CALA. What are at stake are a country’s overall competitiveness, productivity and quality of life for citizens. For this reason Blink Broadband, one of the largest Internet Service Providers in Trinidad and Tobago, parallels its commercial operations with an equally aggressive social program. Their aim is to inculcate the use of Internet-based technology for individuals, educational institutions and businesses at risk of missing out on opportunities afforded by having Internet access.
Few will doubt the overwhelming impact the Internet has had on societies the world over. As at June 2012, it is estimated that there were almost 2.5 billion internet users worldwide. The Caribbean / Latin American region (CALA) has the fourth highest ratio of internet users among the seven regions of the world. CALA’s 43% average penetration is higher than the World average of 34%, but it is far behind the 60% - 80% penetration seen in the more developed regions of Europe, Oceania/ Australia and North America.
One of Blink Broadband's educational programs involves its partnership with Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP). The BLINK Broadband/ YTEPP project aims to provide young people targeted by YTEPP who are out of school and unemployed, with training to develop and enhance their skills to successfully enter the workplace. Among the programmes offered is computer literacy which is creatively supported by three buses converted to mobile Internet units with computers and supporting equipment and broadband Internet access.
According to a report by CANTO and the IDB, one of the main barriers to broadband penetration in the Caribbean is a lack of awareness and understanding about how Information Communications Technology (ICT) can contribute to generating economic growth and stimulating innovation. Blink Broadband has been at the forefront in promoting the inclusiveness of Internet access as a versatile solution for any enterprise. One such initiative involves the Masquerade Industry of Trinidad and Tobago (MITT). MITT was developed by the National Carnival Development Foundation and is a vibrant local industry made up of several small businesses. The Trinidad and Tobago Coalition Service Industries (TTCSI) undertook a project with Blink Broadband to utilize ICT to foster the development of MITT. The goal of the project is to support the globalisation of the Trinidad and Tobago masquerade industry through technology, enhancing the industry’s global competitiveness, reach and developing a sustainable local industry.
With the just concluded SEA examinations, Blink Broadband had more than just a casual interest in students going into the exams well prepared. Blink had previously partnered with the website Pennacool.com, which is a SEA tutorial website to encourage SEA students in their preparations. Blink Broadband participated in Pennacool.com’s annual vacation camp which provided online tutoring and preparation for SEA students. For participating in the tutorials, students won exciting tech prizes courtesy Blink Broadband. The novelty of Pennacool.com was that it allowed students anywhere and anytime to do practice tests and see their score so they could see where they needed to focus more learning. The ease and convenience and promptness of feedback demonstrated the power of the Internet to provide valuable and timely support to students making this first big step in their education.