St Helena connects to the Subsea Cable

Now that the Equiano subsea cable is live, there is opportunity for the existing telecoms network to plug into the cable so that the Island community is able to benefit immediately from this investment. Whilst the aspiration to access the cable via a fibre network remains, there will be some considerable time before this network is built and operational.

Ensuring telecommunications in the interim

In order to ensure continuity of service beyond 31 December 2023, negotiations have taken place with Sure South Atlantic Ltd to secure an extension to the existing licence. A specific objective has been to switch from satellite based to cable based services. Utilising the cable gives us the opportunity to reap immediate enhancements which can benefit all customers. SHG is very clear that these benefits should allow increased data allowances and improved speeds.

As a result of these successful discussions, SHG has agreed an extension to the current licence agreement with Sure from 1 January 2024 for a minimum period of 18 months. This roll-over will continue indefinitely thereafter subject to a six-month notice period by SHG. In the meantime Sure will undertake the necessary investment in 2023 which will facilitate connection to the cable.

How will the Island benefit from this?

Sure has committed to connecting the cable and launching new consumer offers prior to the extension of the existing licence and will use best endeavours to make the new services available to the public on 1 October 2023.

Principles which underpin these packages are:

  • Every type of customer, regardless of the package chosen, should receive significant benefit from the cable
  • No customer will incur overages, thus avoiding bill shock – booster packages will be available
  • Savings on monthly charges for enhanced data allowances
  • Offering of unlimited data plans, but balanced with need to maintain affordable plans
  • Mobile improved further to give increased data allowance at lower cost
  • Business packages will be enhanced, with further enhancements expected in early 2024.

A summary of the packages which will be available from Sure from 1 October 2023 is shown below. Full details of these packages will be available on the Sure website at along with associated terms and conditions.

 Allowance (MB)Speed Down (Mbps)Speed Up (Mbps)OveragePrice (£)
Lite1,10010.55p  13.31
Silver Plus7,1001.50.55p  54.34
Gold14,25020.75p  82.00
Gold Plus31,00020.75p160.06
NewAllowance (MB)Speed Down (Mbps)Speed Up (Mbps)Price (£)
Entry/Social Tariff15,0002.50.513.30
S30,0005Up to 118.00
M60,0005Up to 136.00
LUnlimitedUp to 10Up to 167.00
L+UnlimitedUp to 20Up to 1120.00

While the services that will be offered to consumers are set by Sure to represent the best possible offer with clear benefits to consumers, it is recognised that the services offered from 1 October 2023 will be restricted by the current technical capabilities of the core Island network. Sure will continue to upgrade the core network over the next six months, this will allow commercial customers to achieve enhanced speeds from 1 April 2024.

Commenting on the interim arrangements, Minister Mark Brooks, said:

“On 27th July, I stated that that St Helena Government is committed to addressing the Island’s digital poverty and exclusion. I am pleased that these negotiations have yielded a successful outcome which, in the interim, will allow all consumers to see immediate benefits in terms of their internet experience. The business community will benefit further in early 2024, once Sure make further enhancements to their network. This arrangement brings us a step closer to realising the benefit of Government’s investment in the Equiano Cable.”

Plugging into the cable now will allow for Telemedicine to be established and implemented in the Health Service,allowing for the harnessing of more cost effective medical options. It will also allow for the provision of a strengthened education service, supporting the development of skills, creativity and life-long learningfacilitating enhanced online education in all schools, the Public Library and the Community College. This will allow us to use the latest technology to teach digital skills to Islanders of all ages, enhancing the educational experience they need to prosper in the job market of the future.

In agreeing this way forward, SHG is delivering on its promise that all on St Helena will benefit from the strategic investment made in the Equiano undersea cable.

#StHelena #Sure #FibreOpticCable #Telecommunications

1 September 2023

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470