Digicel to Finance High Capacity Underseas Cable to Haiti
Internet availability has come a long way since 2000, when a small number of cyber-cafes catered mainly to UN staff. Broadband availability will increase significantly as a result of Digicel's latest project - financing the construction of a USD $16m 200 km undersea cable to Haiti. For a Caribbean country with a large Diaspora, the internet helps people stay connected and do business. It also has untapped potential as a learning tool, helping students to be active rather than passive learners. More information follows.
Two years after Haiti was struck by a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake, the country is set to receive a major boost with the delivery of a US$16m 200km undersea cable which will link the country to the world via internet connectivity, thanks to Digicel. The project – which is being undertaken in conjunction with Columbus Networks, the leading undersea fiber-optic cable network provider in the Pan Caribbean - Americas region, and Alcatel-Lucent as technology supplier – will dramatically expand the range and quality of fixed and mobile broadband services and content delivered throughout the country. The earthquake in January 2010 damaged or destroyed much of Haiti’s communications infrastructure – including the country’s only other subsea cable link which, to date, has not been sufficiently reactivated and secured against risk of impact from future seismic events. As a result, the Haitian population and the Haitian economy have suffered from the lack of high-capacity broadband connectivity that is pivotal to expanding business, public sector and social activity in Haiti.
Digicel Group Director of International Business, Conor Clarke, said; “For more than two years now, Haiti’s recovery has been hindered by the lack of reliable high-capacity broadband connections with the rest of the world. With the delivery of this critical undersea cable, the people of Haiti will see a truly dramatic improvement in the range and quality of communications services available.” Once completed, the FibraLink Extension to Haiti will provide a secure, high-capacity subsea link with 21 other countries in the Pan Caribbean - Americas region - as well as with the United States and the main internet backbone gateway in South Florida. Digicel is funding the entire project and has drawn on Alcatel-Lucent and Columbus Networks’ technology and demonstrated expertise necessary for the deployment of the high-capacity link. Marine services for the project will be provided by the co-contractor, IT International Telecom. Columbus Networks will own, operate and manage the Fibralink Extension after it is completed.
Digicel’s undersea cable project is the latest in its ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts in Haiti. As the single largest private investor in Haiti, Digicel has invested over U$600 million to date and employs over 900 people directly and more than 60,000 people indirectly. Paul Scott, President of Columbus Networks said; “We are committed to fostering the development and continuous improvement of the communication infrastructure throughout the region where broadband adoption rates continue to grow rapidly. This expansion will add to our network, enable us to enhance broadband connectivity further and thus deliver reliable, cost effective bandwidth and Cloud based services at cost-effective prices to a very large population base.” Philippe Dumont, President of Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, said; “We are proud to be part of this initiative as one of the variety of other outreach programs to support Haiti’s recovery. The benefits that this undersea link can bring to Haiti can’t be over-estimated. We are pleased to collaborate with Digicel and Columbus Networks on such a critical endeavour.” Alcatel-Lucent originally deployed the FibraLink system owned by Columbus Networks which provides coastal and terrestrial connectivity from Kingston to Ocho Rios and Montego Bay in Jamaica with direct connectivity to the US by integrating it into other parts of the Columbus Networks infrastructure.