Territory Introduced to Internet 20 Years Ago with FreeNet
In today’s fast-paced Internet world, it’s hard to imagine that only 20 years ago Monday, territorial residents were introduced to this electronic marvel at a public meeting held at Bluebeard’s Castle Hotel. At the time, Peter de Blanc of Octagon Consultants and his team unveiled dial-up Internet access called the V.I.P. FreeNet. The name aptly describes it, and it was free to anyone who signed up.
“I thought it was the greatest thing since the zipper, and it certainly changed life in the Virgin Islands,” St. John resident Robert Charleston, who signed up as customer 134 at that meeting, said.
Dotty Sparks de Blanc, Peter de Blanc, Steve Pitzl and Jonathan Bartsch were the movers and shakers that got the project off the ground. Other businesses and people contributed equipment, funds and effort.
With eight modems at the FreeNet office in Royal Dane Mall, the service began connecting Virgin Islands residents to the broader world.
Sparks de Blanc said she’s amazed at how rapidly the Internet took hold. “It’s mind blowing,” she said.
Sparks de Blanc said Peter de Blanc wanted to “level the playing field” for the residents so they could access things like The New York Times online instead of paying $12 for the Sunday edition. Additionally he made Internet accessible to people on other Caribbean, she said.
She forwarded a paper written in 1995 by Peter de Blanc outlining the FreeNet origins and growth. It indicates that in the first month of operation, 162 people signed up. By the end of April 1995, the number stood at 1,143.
and now we have some of the worst internet in the world!
the US is lagging behind so much....
I was just looking for an internet thread. I have Choice and it blows.
Agree. I had Choice for years and was quite happy until they had change in management/ownership and started selling cell phones and raffling off cars.
My service became so bad and my downtime was more frequent that I had NO CHOICE but to change my islands.vi e-mail address and move on to BBVI.
Wasn't sure I wanted to deal with Innovative as already had land line phone and cable issues with them and service wasn't the greatest in those depts. Still have a land line but switched to DISHTV even tho it costs less to bundle your services with Innovative, the overall aggravations were not worth it.
It costs more but at least my billing gets to me on time, they don't cut me off on a Fri. afternoon when no-one is available until mid-day on Monday or have someone that is responding from somewhere outside the VI and I have to spend hours trying to get hold
of a tech to have a problem rectified. I hated when they'd tell me to come down their store because it MUST be my modem, only to get there and discover the modem works perfectly, it's their stupid signal! I don't get a bill until after they disconnect me and on and on it went, so I went............to another provider.
Don't get me started with them. The service was horrendously atrocious!
With BBVI, I can get hold of techs if there is an issue and mainly have had very few problems with the service over the course of the years that I have been a customer
and am happy with it (except for the cost of $99.95 - wish that was lower).
Yup, BBVI for sure, plus Mike M. (the owner) is also the chairman of the board for the Animal Wellfare Center; and his wife (Dr M.) does all the spay / neuters at AWC also.
I had a FreeNet account. It was great! RIP Peter.
Peter was one of my mentors, I worked for him for quite a while. Last time I got to see him I came in on a flight in 1999 and saw him at the baggage are of the airport. We talked for a bit, and he did not say anything about his condition. If I had known I would have made it a point to have seen him more during the trip.