Fibre Optic Cable Project Breakthrough!

How do we now move on to a digital productivity-driven economic breakout?

Head of the Programme Management Office, Martin Parlett; Director of DITES, Denzil West; Permanent Secretary, Office of the Premier, Daphne Cassell; and Premier, Honourable Donaldson Romeo. Photo Credit: GoM/GIU

BRADES, Montserrat, October 26, 2019 –  On Thursday, October 24, Premier Donaldson Romeo announced that he is standing aside from the PDM Candidates list for the November 18th election. In saying this, he listed various achievements of the PDM administration. The first of these is strategically decisive for Montserrat:

“. . . after a ten-year fight, just today, October 24th, 2019, we have signed off the contract for the laying of the undersea Fibre Optic Cable worth EC$17 million. This is one-sixth of the CIPREG EC$100 million programme. The fibre optic cable project will open up the dynamic digital sector with many opportunities for internet server farms, business, and financial services, telemedicine, multimedia education, web-based enterprises, digital multimedia products, and lots more. This will lead to jobs, especially for our digitally-minded youth.”

Premier Romeo also had a few words for “naysayers” on the CIPREG Project: “The naysayers who so often publicly mocked the reality of these projects and sometimes suggested they were fake were wrong; they should now come clean to the people of Montserrat.” (Though this is a surprisingly strong remark for this Premier, it is understandable given how insistently the “naysayers” said and suggested such, in the face of mounting evidence. The “naysayers” now have a lesson to learn and face a character test. A fair comment is: if good news for Montserrat is bad news for you, and bad news for Montserrat is good news for you, you have a serious problem. Our voters will decide pass/fail, come Nov. 18.)

Now, based on a Government press release[1] dated October 25 we can fill in some details on the project:

“ . . . [T]he Government of Montserrat through the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG) today signed a landmark multi-million-dollar deal with Southern Caribbean Fiber (SCF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Digicel Group, for the installation of a new subsea fibre optic cable system . . . .  the transformational 15-year agreement, worth in excess of XCD$16m,[2] sees SCF managing, maintaining and operating a new 25 kilometre [ = 15.6 miles ] fibre optic cable which paves the way for faster, more reliable and more resilient internet connectivity through Guadeloupe and Antigua. The agreement also provides for ten years of high-speed broadband internet access for the delivery of its services for the Government of Montserrat for free. SCF won the contract as part of a competitive international tendering process, and aims to complete the installation of Montserrat’s new fibre optic system by the summer of 2020 . . . . The Project will be overseen by the Programme Management Office in the Ministry of Finance, and the Department for Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES) under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier. ”

A revealing fact here, is that we are to have a 15 mile cable, where Antigua is 26 miles away and Guadeloupe is even further. This means, logically, that we must be getting a “spur line” to a junction box inserted in an existing SCF/Digicel subsea Fibre Optic Cable between those two islands that obviously runs 15 miles off our coast.  No wonder SCF/Digicel won the bid! (The bonus is, we get a tie-in to Europe through Guadeloupe and one to the USA through Antigua. Two birds with one stone.)

What can we do with this opportunity? Many things:

  • We need to put in further, hurricane-proof underground fibre optic cable across the island so that households, schools, the hospital, businesses, new digital economy enterprises and Government can have fast, reliable digital access. (Yes, thanks to Lime and Digicel, we already have some underground fibre optic cable, as well as some that run in the air from telephone pole to telephone pole.)
  • We need to back this up with adequate standby generation so the cables won’t go down due to power cuts.
  • Longer term, we need to put in Geothermal Energy-based electricity, as this is one of the two most reliable electricity energy sources; along with large scale hydroelectric generation. (The Thermal Energy Partners estimates indicate that we may have over 100 MW of potential.[3])
  • This opens up opportunities for GT energy backed, Fibre Optic Cable connected server farms providing Internet, multimedia and business services.
  • As we are native English speakers – living in a low crime, UK Overseas Territory, emerald isle, tropical paradise (we have spring water in our taps!) – at a longitude between the US and Europe, Call Centres and the like are just the low hanging fruit.
  • Imagine, the impact of just a few investors moving to villas here with state of the art global fibre optic connectivity to do instant trading on the markets while they can pop over to a tropical beach in five minutes, or instead go for a lush tropical forest mountain hike just for a change of pace.
  • That points to business or art retreat centers, similarly globally connected.
  • Mix in Offshore Medical Universities and research centers and we can see telemedicine and specialist treatment facilities open up as major opportunities.
  • Of course, the to-be-rebuilt Glendon Hospital [£15m under CIPREG] must be wired for telemedicine and multimedia digital medical/nursing education.
  • As the new CXC Registrar announced here in August, CXC is moving regional education to a digital base. Blend that with multimedia, server farms and on-call services and digital education opportunities beckon. (Entertainment, music and television opportunities are too obvious to detail.)
  • Last June, we here at TMR pointed out[4] that since 2013, the UK has launched a Computing in Schools initiative for ages 5 to 16. We need something similar in Montserrat and the wider Caribbean. We need a digital workforce to go with a digital world.
  • You fill in ________ (the sky is the limit).

[1] GoM http://www.gov.ms/montserrat-selects-southern-caribbean-fiber-in-multi-million-dollar-subsea-fibre-optic-cable/?fbclid=IwAR24Mc48jd46Qs7H0rBujgDduEUq_VCqiJS4kpzIFoHhKAVRQWpBrGG0MFg

[2]  NOTE: £4.9 mn x 3.50 = EC$ 17.15 mn.

[3] TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrats-geothermal-energy-gold-mine/

[4] TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrat-go-digital-or-go-bust/

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How do we now move on to a digital productivity-driven economic breakout?

Head of the Programme Management Office, Martin Parlett; Director of DITES, Denzil West; Permanent Secretary, Office of the Premier, Daphne Cassell; and Premier, Honourable Donaldson Romeo. Photo Credit: GoM/GIU

BRADES, Montserrat, October 26, 2019 –  On Thursday, October 24, Premier Donaldson Romeo announced that he is standing aside from the PDM Candidates list for the November 18th election. In saying this, he listed various achievements of the PDM administration. The first of these is strategically decisive for Montserrat:

“. . . after a ten-year fight, just today, October 24th, 2019, we have signed off the contract for the laying of the undersea Fibre Optic Cable worth EC$17 million. This is one-sixth of the CIPREG EC$100 million programme. The fibre optic cable project will open up the dynamic digital sector with many opportunities for internet server farms, business, and financial services, telemedicine, multimedia education, web-based enterprises, digital multimedia products, and lots more. This will lead to jobs, especially for our digitally-minded youth.”

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Premier Romeo also had a few words for “naysayers” on the CIPREG Project: “The naysayers who so often publicly mocked the reality of these projects and sometimes suggested they were fake were wrong; they should now come clean to the people of Montserrat.” (Though this is a surprisingly strong remark for this Premier, it is understandable given how insistently the “naysayers” said and suggested such, in the face of mounting evidence. The “naysayers” now have a lesson to learn and face a character test. A fair comment is: if good news for Montserrat is bad news for you, and bad news for Montserrat is good news for you, you have a serious problem. Our voters will decide pass/fail, come Nov. 18.)

Now, based on a Government press release[1] dated October 25 we can fill in some details on the project:

“ . . . [T]he Government of Montserrat through the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG) today signed a landmark multi-million-dollar deal with Southern Caribbean Fiber (SCF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Digicel Group, for the installation of a new subsea fibre optic cable system . . . .  the transformational 15-year agreement, worth in excess of XCD$16m,[2] sees SCF managing, maintaining and operating a new 25 kilometre [ = 15.6 miles ] fibre optic cable which paves the way for faster, more reliable and more resilient internet connectivity through Guadeloupe and Antigua. The agreement also provides for ten years of high-speed broadband internet access for the delivery of its services for the Government of Montserrat for free. SCF won the contract as part of a competitive international tendering process, and aims to complete the installation of Montserrat’s new fibre optic system by the summer of 2020 . . . . The Project will be overseen by the Programme Management Office in the Ministry of Finance, and the Department for Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES) under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier. ”

A revealing fact here, is that we are to have a 15 mile cable, where Antigua is 26 miles away and Guadeloupe is even further. This means, logically, that we must be getting a “spur line” to a junction box inserted in an existing SCF/Digicel subsea Fibre Optic Cable between those two islands that obviously runs 15 miles off our coast.  No wonder SCF/Digicel won the bid! (The bonus is, we get a tie-in to Europe through Guadeloupe and one to the USA through Antigua. Two birds with one stone.)

What can we do with this opportunity? Many things:


[1] GoM http://www.gov.ms/montserrat-selects-southern-caribbean-fiber-in-multi-million-dollar-subsea-fibre-optic-cable/?fbclid=IwAR24Mc48jd46Qs7H0rBujgDduEUq_VCqiJS4kpzIFoHhKAVRQWpBrGG0MFg

[2]  NOTE: £4.9 mn x 3.50 = EC$ 17.15 mn.

[3] TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrats-geothermal-energy-gold-mine/

[4] TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrat-go-digital-or-go-bust/