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Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland starts laying fibre optic cable on Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Kitts

This coming week Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland will start laying the fibre optic cable on Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Kitts. During the past two weeks all groundwork was carried out at locations where the cable will come ashore.

This Thursday March 1st work will start on Saba. A special ship, the “IT Intrepid”, will roll out the cable. With the assistance of divers and a smaller ship the cable will be brought ashore and will be connected in a beach manhole. On March 3rd and 4th the ships comes to St. Eustatius and on March 5th and 6th to St. Kitts. The laying of the fibre optic cable is a first important step to improved internet services on Saba and St. Eustatius. Besides, the fibre optic cable is necessary for the execution of government tasks.

The plan is to also let the cable come ashore on St. Maarten. By doing so Saba and St. Eustatius will get two connections to different islands. All the telecommunication traffic from and to Saba and St. Eustatius could then be routed through St. Maarten and/or St. Kitts. This increases the reliability of internet services and at the same time provides St. Maarten the possibility to also obtain a double connection. Presently St. Maarten is connected with only one fibre optic cable to international telecommunication networks. This cable is property of the Telem Group of Companies which has the technical and financial control over the fibre optic cable access from and to St. Maarten.

“Unfortunately St. Maarten did not cooperate with the timely issuing of the permits. This coming week we will try to get clarity regarding the permits in order to bring the cable ashore on St. Maarten. We are busy with this already since June 2011”, according to Sybren van Dam. Director Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN). Should there be no clarity regarding the permit, then only in December after the hurricane season, will St. Maarten be connected. This does not only mean a delay for the residents and businesses on St. Maarten, but will also cause extra substantial costs. We have explored whether or not we could bring ashore the fibre optic cable on Anguilla, St. Barths or the French part of St. Maarten. However, this did not seem to be a real option, seeing that the Dutch government also needs the cable for carrying out its tasks on the Dutch part of St. Maarten. We will certainly look into seeing that we recover these unnecessary extra expenditures on St. Maarten”, according to Sybren van Dam.

Meanwhile supplementary agreements were made with the company which is operating the cable ship and the suppliers regarding an possible later connection from St. Maarten.

The ship laying the cable is currently in the harbour of St. Maarten and sails to Saba on Thursday. The activities will be coordinated with the local harbour authorities to limit to a minimum possible inconvenience for other shipping traffic. The cable laying ship sails slowly and has limited manoeuvre possibilities. It is therefore important that other shipping traffic is aware of the operations.

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