USTDA SUPPORTS WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY IN THE WEST BANK
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - (May 22, 2008) – Promoting the expansion of wireless Internet connectivity in the West Bank is the goal underlying a $480,625 grant USTDA Director Larry W. Walther signed today at the Palestinian Investment Conference in Bethlehem. USTDA awarded this grant to BCI Communications & Advanced Technologies Ltd. (BCI), which is headquartered in Ramallah, for technical assistance on the deployment of a WiMax system. The grant signing marks the first USTDA assistance in the West Bank since 1995.
At the grant signing ceremony in Bethlehem, USTDA Director Walther said, "This technical assistance represents a strong step forward for our program in the Middle East. The project is an opportunity for USTDA to support, through working with the private sector in the West Bank, the development of important information and communication technology infrastructure and enhanced trade partnerships between the United States and the Palestinian Authority."
His Excellency Kamal Hassouneh, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology of the Palestinian Authority, witnessed the grant signing between USTDA and BCI. Signing the grant for BCI was Said Baransi, BCI's Managing Director who stated, "USTDA assistance is very important to our project. It is a very positive step forward and a vote of confidence for a strong USA/Palestinian partnership, BCI capabilities, and the Palestinian ICT sector." The technical assistance funded by today's grant was developed in close cooperation between BCI and Motorola, Inc.
WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is on the cutting edge of internet and mobile technology. It connects Wi-Fi hotspots with each other and to other parts of the Internet with very minimal blackouts and provides high-speed data and telecommunications services and nomadic connectivity. The network would target the 10 largest cities in the West Bank, which will provide approximately 45,000 users with broadband wireless services by the fourth year of operation. Because the network will also serve other network "end points" such as Internet cafes, WiFi hotspots, and other access points, the total number of users gaining access to broadband network services may be considerably higher.
USTDA's Middle East and North Africa Region has been a consistent partner with MENA countries in developing strong ICT infrastructure, which is a key driver for economic growth in the 21st Century. USTDA's May 2006 conference in Muscat, Oman, highlighted ICT sector issues and opportunities in MENA countries and has led to further project development activities, particularly in E-Government development.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, early investment analysis, training, reverse trade missions and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment. USTDA's strategic use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade, investment and sustainable economic development. In carrying out its mission, USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of goods and services.
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