Update On Fibre Cable Project – June

Further to the updates provided in April and earlier this month, information is provided below on:

  1. Finalisation of the cable landing station at Rupert’s Bay
  2. The design, build and transfer of a domestic network
  3. Tender and award of licence for a new internet service provider

Finalisation of the cable landing station at Rupert’s Bay

As noted in the press release of 01 June 2023, final local commissioning works for the installation, integration, testing and quality assurance of the Equiano fibre-optic cable Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE) were completed at the end of May 2023, one month ahead of schedule.

The local commissioning of the SLTE was identified as a key goal for this Government in its SHG Strategy and Vision 2023-2025, and is the culmination of three and half years’ work between SHG and local and international partners.

At the end of 2022, bad swells in Rupert’s Bay destabilised the sections of the subsea articulated pipework infrastructure, resulting in some limited movement from its anchoring points on the seabed. An inter-disciplinary team of international experts will therefore be on-Island over the next two weeks to assess the impact of this and will look to implement measures to prevent it from occurring again in the future. Whilst the movement caused no interruption to the signal transmission on the line, it is nonetheless important that the line is secured to the seabed to prevent damage from occurring in future seasonal bad swells.

The design, build and transfer of a domestic network

Since the award of the contract to Maestro St Helena to design, build and transfer a new domestic network to SHG, significant work has been ongoing across a number of project and programme boards, and by the contractor themselves.

Planning and pre-deployment work has been more complicated than anticipated. Whilst this is regrettable, it is allowing additional time for parties to ensure that all elements necessary are in place and approved.

To assist with this, SHG are appointing a new project management firm to input into, and supervise, the project. Although contracts are being finalised, these consultants have already begun working. The incoming consultants have significant industry experience in telecommunications infrastructure and network rollout, and SHG looks forward to working closely with them on this important project.

In the meantime, a bill is being brought before the Legislative Council to implement changes to the Telecommunications Ordinance 1989. If approved, the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2023 will provide permissions for personnel to access properties to undertake works in connection with the deployment of the network to enable the efficient and effective delivery of the project.

Such permissions would only be granted to persons that have been licenced, and for the purpose of installing or maintaining a telecommunications network. This provision already exists for the current service provider and in practice, and where applicable, households will be contacted to seek permission for teams to enter properties where any works on their property associated with the project are required.

Tender and award of licence for a new service provider

Earlier this year, SHG paused the tender process to find a service provider to operate the new network. SHG is now in negotiation with an expert consultancy firm to provide specialist advice and assurance in support of this process.

Once appointed, this will allow the opportunity for review of the proposed tender and ensure that where bids are submitted from interested parties following the tender’s restart, SHG is in a strong position to consider these against the future needs of the Island.

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St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470
Email: communications@sainthelena.gov.sh