Fibre Optic Cable Project

Ruperts Beach Fibre Optic Cable Project

Ruperts Beach Fibre Optic Cable Project

St Helena Government (SHG) in December 2019 signed a contract with Google to connect St Helena Island to the Equiano undersea fibre optic internet cable – and thus, St Helena’s Fibre Optic Cable Project was born.

The project was awarded funding under EDF11 and supports St Helena’s 2017 Digital Strategy.

The project should deliver St Helena’s first high-speed, fibre-optic connectivity (currently connection is via satellite).

  • The landing of St Helena’s branch of the Equiano cable on 26 August 2021 marked the first shore cable-landing in the entire Equiano project. 
  • St Helena’s cable branch (linking the Island to the main trunk of the Equiano cable) should be around 1,154km long;
  • The main cable trunk should link to Europe and southern Africa.

The fibre optic cable should deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to the British Overseas Territory of St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean – one of the remotest islands on Earth.

Speeds should range from a few hundred gigabits per second up to multiple terabits, as demand varies.

This would be the first time St Helena has been connected to the outside world via a fibre-optic cable: Currently, customers pay per megabyte of data for broadband (and mobile phone) options, with listed upload speeds between 512kbps and 768kbps and download speeds between 1,024kbps and 2,048kbps. Broadband packages range from £13.31/month for 1.1gbs of data, to £160.06/month for 31gbs, and data does not shut off at package limit but automatically allows overages, charged at 5p/mb. Internet usage is free between midnight and 6am. Therefore, enhanced digital connectivity has the potential to hugely benefit the Island and its residents, businesses and visitors (including benefits to education and healthcare opportunities).

Cable Landing and Facilitation

Fibre Optic Cable Excavation
Fibre Optic Cable Excavation

From 16 August 2021 excavation and other preparation works were taking place at Rupert’s Beach for the arrival of the cable landing ship. Divers placed and secured articulated piping onto the seabed floor at Rupert’s – the cable would later be placed and enclosed within that piping.

Teliri arrived 25 August 2021 for marine and shore landing works. The cable was dropped over the side of the ship on 29 August 2021 and placed into the piping that had been laid. The end of the cable was installed at the MCLS, where it will link into the Island’s digital infrastructure.

After landing of the cable, training occurred consistently with Google to enable local staff to manage the MCLS in readiness for when the branch was connected to the main trunk. The PFE inside the MCLS was tested, and Submarine Line Terminal Equipment was installed.

Modular Cable Landing Station (MCLS)

The MCLS is where the end of St Helena’s cable branch connects into the island’s infrastructure. It is located in Rupert’s Valley.

Modular Cable Landing Station
Modular Cable Landing Station

St Helena’s MCLS and associated components were designed and fabricated in the United States by AMSS, and arrived to St Helena via the MV Helena on 16 March 2021. The MCLS was offloaded, transported, and carefully positioned just above the Rupert’s Valley beach, ready for installation works.

In May and June 2021 two ASN engineers arrived and installed PFE and associated telecoms equipment within the MCLS.

On 2 August 2021 four ASN and eight MCC personnel arrived via charter flight to facilitate landing of the cable and test the power feed equipment within the MCLS.

Fibre Optic Cable Landed on St Helena

Sunday, 29 August 2021, was a ground-breaking day in St Helena’s digital history as the Island’s branch of the Equiano Subsea Cable was landed here at Ruperts Beach. This was the first shore landing of the cable in the entire Equiano Cable Project, having up until Sunday only been placed at sea.

Fibre Optic Cable Project Verification and Commissioning Document officially signed

SHG’s Chief Digital Officer, Jeremy (Jerry) Roberts, and Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) Engineer, Marc Andre, signed the verification and commissioning document in regards to the Fibre Optic Cable Project in October 2023.

During his time on-Island Marc ran all the optical and commissioning tests on St Helena’s branch of the Fibre Optic Cable, as well as the branches between Samba and Cape Town to test whether the line is actually capable of carrying traffic.

Telecom Egypt engineers coming in May 2023 to commission the MCLS

Between Sunday 21 May and Friday 26 May, technicians from Telecom Egypt’s sub-contractual deployment team undertook final commissioning works for the installation and integration of the Equiano fibre-optic cable Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE). The SLTE connects the cable landing station to the wider Equiano network, allowing the transfer of data through the cable between St Helena and the rest of the world.

Following completion of the commissioning works last week, the SLTE has been rigorously tested and has now been confirmed to be working as intended, meaning it is now live.

St Helena connects to the Subsea Cable

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.

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.

Press Releases

St Helena connects to the Subsea Cable – 1 September 2023

Work Underway To Bring Public Access To Fibre Optic Cable Ahead Of Schedule 27 July 2023

Equiano Cable Landing Station Commissioning Works Complete – 1 June 2023

Update On Fibre Cable Project – April – 21 April 2023

Update on Fibre Optic Cable Project – 14 March 2023

Reopening of Rupert’s and Safety Advice to Public – 19 December 2022

Fibre Optic Cable Project Verification and Commissioning Document officially signed – 21 October 2022

Contract Awarded in Telecoms Procurement – 30 November 2022

Fibre Optic Cable Project Verification and Commissioning Document officially signed 21 October 2023

SHG announces preferred bidder in telecommunications procurement – 9 September 2022

Alcatel Submarine Networks Engineer Arriving Next Week – 2 August 2022

Fibre Optic Cable Landed on St Helena – 1 September 2021

Fibre Optic Cable Project – Update – 23 August 2021

Fibre Optic Cable Project – Cable to be landed at St Helena in August – 30 July 2021

MCC Engineers Arrive On-Island – 25 March 2021

Fibre Optic Cable on Its Way – 4 October 2018

St Helena Examines Fibre Optic Cable Options – 20 November 2017

For higher-resolution images and video, contact SHG’s Digital Media Officer or Marketing Manager (+290 24470;;