After 20 years, Montserrat to reconnect using SCF fibre optic cable

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Above: Montserrat’s Soufriere volcano blows a plume on October 11, 2019. Photo by NASA.

In a move set to bring myriad opportunities for economic growth to the people of Montserrat by connecting them to the global knowledge economy, the 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.

Made possible through the UK-funded Programme, the transformational 15-year agreement, worth in excess of XCD$16m, sees SCF managing, maintaining and operating a new 25 kilometre 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. SCF was bought by Digicel in 2014.

Commenting on the landmark agreement, The Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Donaldson Romeo said; “It’s been a long road but now we stand ready to reap the rewards of being a part of a connected global digital economy. This project is truly transformational; constituting a major step forward in our development efforts and positioning us strongly as a foreign investment destination.”

Governor of Montserrat, His Excellency Andrew Pearce, OBE, said “It is inspiring to see the UK investment programme for Montserrat bearing fruit after many months of rigorous negotiation. Better, faster and more resilient internet services will make a significant difference to people’s lives and provide new entrepreneurial opportunities.”

Chief Executive Officer of Southern Caribbean Fiber, Valery Bijou, said; “With connectivity comes opportunity. We are delighted to be partnering with the Government of Montserrat to help provide an interconnected empowered future for the people of Montserrat. In a few months, Montserrat will take its place in the digital economy and be able to drive transformational progress to the benefit of all – and as a Caribbean-based provider, we’re excited to be powering that progress.”

Montserrat has been without international fibre optic connectivity for more than 20 years, when 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.

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.