SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico has announced a $17 million investment to create an ultra-high-speed internet network to serve the island’s growing technology sector, which translates to up to $289 million in return.
The multi-phase infrastructure project, nicknamed Gigabit Island, will establish a high-speed fiber-optic network; phase one will serve residents and businesses in Old San Juan, Miramar, Isla Verde and the Santurce district, which is the island’s entrepreneurial and artistic center.
The initiative, which was announced at the second annual Puerto Rico TECH SUMMIT, is similar to a Google pilot project in Kansas City that provides internet service at one gigabyte per second – up to 200 times faster than normal. Gigabit Island will reach that same speed.
“This is transformative technology that will lead to even more innovation and creativity in Puerto Rico’s strong and growing tech sector,” said Alberto Bacó Bagué, secretary of commerce and economic development (DDEC). “Our investment in Gigabit Island demonstrates Puerto Rico’s commitment to grow our technology and the services industries.”
The Puerto Rico Sewer and Aqueduct Authority (PRSAA) is facilitating the installation, which is expected to begin this year and be completed in a 12-month period. Upon the project’s completion, Puerto Rico will be able to provide high-speed Internet access to 85 percent of private businesses and 65 percent of homes by 2016.
The annual TECH SUMMIT put on display the strength and diversity of Puerto Rico’s tech center, which brought together more than 800 attendees from leading IT firms, tech startups, entrepreneurial investment firms, academia, government and NGOs to share best practices and drive innovation and solidify a strong tech hub that already includes hundreds of firms. With global research firm IDC predicting IT growth in Latin America by 8 percent, Puerto Rico is focused on strengthening its position in cloud computing technologies, software as a service and enterprise security.
Through its Department of Commerce and Economic Development, Puerto Rico offers generous investment incentives to qualifying tech companies that offer services from operations in Puerto Rico.
Home to HP, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, as well as entrepreneurs who account for the largest increase in recent job numbers, Puerto Rico already has a strong IT business infrastructure. Just last month Puerto Rico was added to the first and most modern submarine cable infrastructure in the world.
“Attendees at the TECH SUMMIT are among the most innovative technology strategists in the world, taking advantage of the strong business incentives and unparalleled human capital Puerto Rico offers,” Bacó said.
As part of the TECH SUMMIT, Puerto Rico hosted a hackathon, in which 125 developers were tasked with the assignment of creating apps to provide solutions to help the government provide easier access and better services to Puerto Rico residents.
Apps developed during last year’s event are being rolled out in the coming months. These included Student Hack, an app to register and automate students assistance in order to help reduce school desertion; AMA Movil, an app to monitor more effectively the Metropolitan Bus Authority routes; and Tenotifi.co, an app that will notify consumers about breakdowns in the Puerto Rico Power Authority’s electric service grid.