Long-awaited connectivity for Montserrat via subsea cable is now a reality thanks to the Government of Montserrat’s collaboration with Southern Caribbean Fiber (SCF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Digicel Group, and its subsidiary SCF Montserrat.
Under the Montserrat Subsea Fibre Optic Project, funded by the UK funded Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG), fibre optic cables, connecting Montserrat to Antigua and Guadeloupe have been successfully installed and are ready for operations.
With submarine fibre optic cables the backbone of the internet, and used for over 99% of all international voice and data traffic, the connection of a new subsea fibre cable system means the people of Montserrat can now look forward to reliable, fast and secure connection to the internet.
Valery Bijou, CEO of Southern Caribbean Fiber said, “SCF is very proud of achieving this milestone with the reinstatement of Montserrat on the map of submarine cables in the Caribbean and the resulting internet connectivity. I want to welcome Montserrat to an interconnected empowered future and to thank the Government for choosing SCF as their preferred partner in this important infrastructure development. It is also very rewarding to have reached the end of the journey on schedule, in spite of the challenges introduced by Covid-19.”
Montserrat has been without international fibre optic connectivity for more than 20 years after the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano cut the island off from its undersea branch of the Eastern Caribbean Fibre System. Since then, all of Montserrat’s international telephony and data communications have been routed via a microwave network to Antigua.
Montserrat’s Premier, Hon. Joseph Farrell stated, “The Government is pleased to be partnering with Southern Caribbean Fiber on this major project to provide the backbone for resilient and reliable high speed internet service on island. Technology plays a critical role in advancing the development of Montserrat; and this project is symbolic of our thrust and desire to build our economy in a digital age. With this infrastructure, we can rest assured that Montserrat has positioned itself for more business opportunities and our communications systems are now more robust and should not be adversely affected by natural hazards, such as hurricanes. This assurance will no doubt play a major role in strengthening our business and investment climate. The stage is now set for the telecommunications providers here to tap into this resource, and compete in the delivery of new and improved service offerings to consumers. The government also intends to expand its e-government offerings and aggressively pursue Distance Learning and Telemedicine innovations for the benefit of its citizens.”
In October 2019, the Government of Montserrat, through the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG), signed a landmark multi-million dollar deal with SCF for the installation of a new subsea fibre optic cable system. This agreement sees SCF managing, maintaining and operating the 25km cable, and provides for ten years of high speed broadband internet access for the delivery of its services for the Government of Montserrat at no additional cost.
Baroness Sugg CBE, Minister for Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said, “I am delighted that Montserrat's new high speed fibre optic cable has been commissioned. This is the first major project to be delivered through the £30 million Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG), funded by the UK Government. The launch of this cable represents a fantastic opportunity to stimulate Montserrat's economic growth, bolster the island's hurricane resilience and enable economic diversification. This tells the world Montserrat is open for business."
The Project was overseen by the Programme Management Office in the Government of Montserrat’s Ministry of Finance, and the Department for Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES), under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier.