PANAMA CITY, Panama – Thanks to a government-backed plan to provide wireless Internet service to the public at no charge, Panamanians could soon be surfing the net for free.
Eduardo Jaén, secretary of governmental innovation, told newswire EFE that the “national Internet access network” project was approved last month and was sent Sept. 2 to the wireless technologies company Liberty Technologies Corp. for review.
Funding for this endeavor will come from a 1 percent income tax that telecommunications companies pay into state coffers, an agreement that came about with the sector’s privatization in the late 1990s.
The government expects the network to start Oct. 10 at 200 wireless access points in 10 cities, in a first phase that would potentially connect 1.5 million Panamanians to the Internet for free.
Once the plan is complete, the government expects the Internet to reach as many as 2.3 million people – or about 70 percent – of the country of 3.3 million.
Jaén boasted, “No other Central American country has announced a project of this magnitude, and we will be the first in Latin America to have a system like this on a nationwide level.”