Internet services, particularly to the Grenadines, expected to improve with installation of subsea fibre optic cable
The EC$60 million subsea fibre optic cable recently laid through the Grenadines, should as one of its benefits, significantly improve the quality of Internet services offered there.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves indicated this at a media event to mark the end of the laying of the subsea fibre optic cable, completed under the project CARCIP (Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program), funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Government through a public, private partnership with Digicel (SVG) Ltd.
The Cable Ship (CS) Intrepid, the vessel that laid the subsea fibre optic cable, pulled into the Cruise Ship berth on Thursday, May 30 after cruising past Grenada, Carriacou, Canouan, Mustique, Union Island and Bequia.
The Intrepid and its crew, which had been travelling since May 12, stopped off at the cruise ship berth before moving on to Owia, and then Chateaubelair on June 1, where their journey along the cost of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) ended.
“Fibre Optic connectivity to the Grenadine islands will introduce modern telecommunication services…for the first time,” the Prime Minister noted, in discussing the benefits of the subsea fibre optic cable in his address. “It will significantly improve the quality of Internet services offered in the Grenadine Islands, and thus eventually, increase the broadband penetration rate in our country,” he advised.
Further, he said, it will meet the growing demands for broadband services created because of the “ever increasing band width demands from residents, businesses, Government and tourists.” He commented that the Grenadines has a population of around 16,000 persons that need to be connected.
The “undersea communication” is promised to enhance the competitiveness of tourist resorts and other facilities on the islands.
“Increasingly, resort guests expect broadband communications to be similar to services available internationally. When they come here, they don’t want any substandard service,” the Prime Minister indicated.
Lastly, it will address the demands for e-governance that will eliminate the need for individuals to travel to Kingstown. “The Grenadine Islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines have never enjoyed fibre optic connections,” but get their Internet via microwave, Minister of Technology, Camillo Gonsalves outlined in his remarks.
“There are limits on the capacity, on the bandwidth, and increasingly, as more and more services migrate on the digital space, there are limits on how much that microwave capacity can handle,” he explained. This, coupled with the increasing need for “top of the line services” there, and the intention to establish e-governance meant that, “It was critical that there be a reliable redundant fibre optic connection travelling through those countries,” he stated.
This connection was facilitated by the CS Intrepid’s laying of the subsea cable. Besides their work in the Grenadines, “the Intrepid would continue up the coast, and also connect Owia, so that we have a complete ring of fibre optic hardware infrastructure around the Island.” With this, he said that the potential that this “second to none in the region” connection now has is difficult to overstate, but that the country is only at the potential stage.
“The difficulty and the challenge now is to make this highway work, to put good cars on the highway, to make good content, because if all we use our broadband connection for now, having connected every hospital and clinic, is for the man or woman at the reception desk to get a faster Facebook connection, then we’ve wasted our money,” he warned.
The infrastructure is now in place for e-commerce, e-business, e-government and to enable innovation, he stated. “The response to why don’t we have those things will not be because we don’t have the infrastructural capacity, it will have to be because we haven’t thought of it yet, because now we’re placing the infrastructural prerequisites in place,” he noted.