Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. If you have a question that is not answered in this FAQ, ask away through
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What is the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative?
The Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative (PRBI) is a project conceived to help Puerto Rico expand its broadband access and connectivity. It plans to provide fast, affordable broadband connectivity for last-mile Internet service providers and underserved areas of Puerto Rico, including the islands of Culebra and Vieques.
Why call it “the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative”?
The PRBI is a bridge that closes both a physical, geographical divide as well as a digital divide - the gap between those who benefit from digital technology and those who do not. Through this bridge, we are tackilng three of the most important divisions we face: economic, geographic, and racial.
- Economic Divide: As Internet access becomes more expensive, households with lower income levels are falling behind. Only 37% of US households with annual income levels less than $30,000 have broadband. With Puerto Rico's median household income less than $18,000, most households cannot afford broadband. As a result, broadband penetration on the island is at extremely low levels.
- Geographic Divide: Universal access is a cornerstone of US communications law. Yet, we're a long way from ensuring that all residents of Puerto Rico have access to telephone, television and cable TV services. Similarly, access to broadband services is not universal in Puerto Rico.
- Racial/Ethnic Divide: In the United States, less than 35% of Hispanic/Latino households subscribe to broadband Internet access, while 55% of non-Hispanic white households are connected. Broadband can help address many inequities that continue to pervade our nation - in our schools, communities, homes, and workplaces.
What are the project’s goals?
1. Make broadband universally available and affordable for all of Puerto Rico’s residents.
2. Increase broadband speeds and reduce per megabit prices.
3. Mandate all PRBI ISPs to offer a 25 % discount to all educational institutions, libraries, healthcare and public safety providers.
4. Provide peering to local government agencies.
5. Help eliminate the digital divide by encouraging the development of Public Computer Access and Training Centers in unserved and underserved communities.
6. Encourage competition and provide Puerto Ricans with a choice of broadband providers.
How do you plan to achieve your goals?
The Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative (PRBI) is an unprecedented initiative aimed at harnessing the power of the Internet to help address our island's economic crisis. The PRBI brings together Internet Service Providers, government, and Internet users in an innovative solution focused on resolving the issues which cause Puerto Rico's lagging broadband networks.
The PRBI will put Puerto Rican ISPs on an equal playing field with their counterparts in the mainland through a fiber optic bridge linking Puerto Rico to Florida. This bridge will have a cost reduction effect in connecting to the backbone and optimizing available network resources through peering. These changes will allow the deployment of faster, affordable broadband services and facilitate improved access to local contents.
How does this project provide a better future for Puerto Rico?
All Puerto Rican residents will benefit from the PRBI thanks to the expanded availability of fast, affordable broadband services from a choice of providers. PRBI will increase the competitiveness of Puerto Rico in the global economy. The availability of reliable, fast, and affordable broadband service throughout the island will create new businesses and investments opportunities, which in turn will generate additional jobs and lay the foundation for Puerto Rico's future economic growth.
What inspired the PRBI project?
In April 2010, Critical Hub Networks invited ISPs to a round table discussion on Puerto Rico’s Internet. The meeting identified four (4) key barriers that the PRBI will address in order to improve broadband penetration and usage:
1. Last-mile infrastructure construction.
2. Cost associated with crossing the island; Intra-Island-Middle-Mile.
3. Digital Divide.
4. Backbone costs: Off-Island-Middle-Mile or Backbone Interconnection.
How does Puerto Rico’s Internet usage rank against the United States and the rest of the world?
In 2008, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) invited Internet users in the US and Puerto Rico to test their bandwidth speeds. CWA published a report ranking the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. In this report Puerto Rico's rank was 52 out of 52. The United States is 15th behind other industrialized countries in high speed Internet adoption, and 28th in Internet speeds. In a 2009 report, this negative trend continued.
When will the PRBI’s project benefits be felt?
The PRBI project is already beginning to make changes. In the 2012 World Economic Forum connectivity survey, Puerto RIco went from 43 to 36 amongst 142 countries.The PRBI's first interconnection point was fully operational in February 2011, just months after funding was awarded. We are currently deploying our microwave network in order to have greater impact throughout the island. We are also working towards connecting with more ISPs so all of Puerto Rico can benefit from the PRBI.
What was the government’s involvement in the PRBI?
The PRBI has been endorsed by government officials, agencies, community anchor institutions, and Internet Service Providers. We are working with the Puerto Rico Department of Education. We will work together to provide affordable broadband in all schools, and to facilitate the fast, secure delivery of content which the Department of Education is developing for students and teachers. The content will delivered via peering of the Department of Education's network with the PRBI. For a list of endorsing partners, see our Partners.
Who has supported the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative?
The PRBI has received support from government officials, agencies, community anchor institutions (CAI), and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). For a list of endorsing partners, see our Partners.
Where do the project’s funds come from?
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA" or the "Recovery Act") provided the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) with $7.2 billion to expand broadband service access in the United States. The Act provided NTIA $4.7 billion of those funds to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service, and develop and maintain a nationwide public map of broadband service capability and availability.
Where can I get more information about the federal funds the PRBI used?
The PRBI funds are Recovery Act funds distributed by the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA). The NTIA has several web sites with information about these funds, including www.broadbandusa.gov and www2.ntia.doc.gov.
Where can I get more information about the PRBI and its progress?
The PRBI is committed to providing updates on its progress and accomplishments. You can follow us on Facebook to find out the latest project information. http://www.facebook.com/PuertoRicoBridgeInitiative
I don't have Internet access in my area – what can I do?
There is an ongoing effort by the Government of Puerto Rico to create a Broadband Map which will identify broadband coverage and which will be included in the National Broadband Map. Once this map is available, the PRBI will work with the partnered ISPs to target those areas lacking broadband services. PRBI will also be implementing a tool allowing you to report your lack of service. This information will be provided to Internet Service Providers for use in network expansion planning.
How can I contact the PRBI?
If you want to drop us a line, give us a call, or simply ask a question through our form, visit our Contact page.
Who is Critical Hub Networks?
Critical Hub Networks, Inc., a Puerto Rican corporation, is the owner and operator of Caribe.Net, Puerto Rico's first Internet Service Provider (ISP). Since its creation in 1994, Critical Hub Networks has recognized the importance of universal Internet access. Critical Hub Networks has dedicated time, resources, and money into ensuring the expansion and growth of the Internet on our beautiful island - including the support, training, and facilitation of the development of other ISPs. Critical Hub Networks believes competition is good, and has gone out of its way to support its own competitors. Its leadership in the industry makes it ideal to champion this historic, unifying effort between ISPs, government, unserved and underserved communities, and Puerto Rico’s four million residents. Today Critical Hub Networks has the largest independent public data center on the island, which provides local and multinational hosting and collocation services. For more information, visit Critical Hub Networks’ webpage.
Who are the PRBI’s partners and what is their role in this project?
The PRBI’s initial supporting broadband partners were Critical Hub Networks, AeroNet Wireless Broadband, Culebra.Net, Ayustar, PRW.NET, AWS Communications, and FLASSH Communications. These Internet Service Providers were among the first to connect to the bridge and offer its benefits to the public. All of them have committed to providing a 25% discount to all public and private schools, libraries, health care and public safety organizations in Puerto Rico. All Puerto Rican ISPs can join the PRBI. Interested in learning more about our project? Want to get involved? Feel free to send us a letter or give us a call. You can also mail us through the form below.