Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has invited Caribbean countries to use the country’s Simon Bolivar (Venesat-1) satellite, which entered operations in January and covers the island region, reports BNamericas. Chavez added that, in partnership with his close ally Cuba, it was his aim to implement satellite-based tele-medicine, tele-education, internet access, social services, and mobile telephony programmes covering the whole region. Science and technology minister Jesse Chacon emphasised that Venesat-1 will enable the provision of telephony, high speed internet and TV services in isolated areas in Venezuela and will also be instrumental in the implementation of tele-medicine and tele-education programmes. The minister said work had begun to connect all university branches in the country with their main campuses via the satellite, and there were plans to connect hospitals in Caracas with small medical centres in remote southern areas. Uruguay is also entitled to use Venesat-1 for research purposes.
Chacon also announced that the state is undertaking a project to deploy a free public Wi-Fi mesh network covering 50 square kilometres in the city of Barquisimeto, the Lara state capital. Hotspots would initially be used principally by students and for tracing vehicles. Chacon inaugurated one of 50 digital access centres planned for Lara this year.