Puerto Rico received $26 million from the Commerce Department to develop access to broadband service on the Caribbean island, the U.S. territory with the slowest Internet connections.

Carlo Marazzi, whose company, Critical Hub Networks, Inc., was awarded the contract to undertake the project in Puerto Rico, will help the island reduce the gap in broadband access.

Marazzi took advantage of the presentation of the Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative project in San Juan to emphasize that it was not acceptable for the U.S. commonwealth to have broadband Internet service that is 78 percent slower than the U.S. national average.

The company chief noted that currently in Puerto Rico only 31 percent of the public has Internet access via broadband service.

Marazzi said that the digital divide that exists with the rest of the United States will be reduced thanks to the funds coming from Washington.

The Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative is being undertaken thanks to funds coming from the 2009 stimulus bill through the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, or NTIA.

The project will allow broadband to become practically universal in Puerto Rico at less cost per megabit, according to estimates by Marazzi’s firm.

The Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative also will foster the interconnection among independent Internet networks with the aim of exchanging traffic among users of each one of the networks, a practice known as “peering.”

The project being promoted by Critical Hub Networks includes an agreement with Florida International University whereby a new exchange point for AMPATH, the International Exchange Point for Research and Education Networking in Miami, will be established.

AMPATH serves as an interconnection axis for scientific research in the United States and the Caribbean via facilities in Miami, New York, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Saint Croix and, now, San Juan.

Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner to the U.S. Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, who on Tuesday attended the presentation of the initiative, emphasized that the project will help all citizens of the island to benefit from Internet access.

The costs of getting the broadband project under way in Puerto Rico are higher than in other areas due, among other reasons, to the island’s mountainous terrain and its dense vegetation.

Published by FoxNewsLatino.com