St Helena: Plans for an Island-Wide Fibre-Optic Cable Network Being Developed

Source: About St Helena

The 16th September 2022 issue of the St Helena Independent newspaper on page 3 discusses the plan for an island-wide fibre-optic network. You can read the original article here: St Helena Independent.

Note: Please remember that this has only been enabled through the Google Equiano undersea cable coming to St Helena. An undersea cable to the Falkland Islands is ‘problematical’ as discussed several times in previous OpenFalklands posts.

To my mind, a high degree of strategic innovation has been demonstrated by the St Helena Government by taking the next step of building and owning the fibre-optic backbone network rather than relying on the current telecommunications incumbent (Sure South Atlantic) to do this. Nothing is ever achieved without taking calculated risks.

The approach taken by the St Helena Government should give the Falkland Islands Government something to ponder on in the coming months!

  • In addition to fibre-optic replacing copper wire to carry the data much faster, another main difference is the government will own the fibre-optic network, not the telecom services provider.
  • Last Friday SHG announced a UK business has been chosen as the preferred bidder for St Helena’s telecom services as the contract with Sure comes to a close.
  • Maestro Technologies, based in Central London, has been chosen to take forward plans to install an entirely new telecom network across the Island. It will be a fibre-optic network.
  • The aim is to provide superfast broadband speeds across the whole network if possible.
  • Sure St Helena has installed a fibre ‘spine’ to the island’s network. Maestro may consider using some of this cable which is already laid if it fits with their own plans and specifications. At the start, the assumption is that the Maestro network will be all new.
  • Mark Brooks pointed out the new fibre-optic network needs to be affordable and available. The monthly bills to customers need to be less than they are now.
  • With the government owning the Island network, the selected telecom service provider will only be directly responsible for the link from the network to telecom equipment within each house or business and the broadband, telephone, television and mobile services the telecom services provider offers to
    each residential or business property.
  • The government will be responsible for maintaining the Island network but intend to contract out the maintenance work to a telecom company.
  • Sure’s licence to provide telecom services has been extended by 12 months from its original termination date of 31st December 2022. There is much to be done before the big switchover to fibre-optic connections on 1st January 2024.
  • Also getting ever closer to conclusion is the preparatory work required before OneWeb can start building their Space Park at Horse Point. Space Park is OneWeb’s name for a ground station linking satellite signals with Trans-Atlantic cables.
STHfibre

Chris Gare, 2022 Copyright: OpenFalklands.com

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