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TCI Caribbean island group looks to build national fibre ring

Turks and Caicos with mast.jpg

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) in the Caribbean has started the process to build a national fibre ring that will link with the sole subsea cable that connects it to neighbouring islands and to the US and South America.

The government of what is officially a British overseas territory is holding a meeting by Teams on Friday 27 January for those interested in offering consultancy.

According to the tender document, the selected consultant will “identify the optimum routes for the buildout of a fibre link across the main inhabited islands of the TCI ranging from Providenciales (in the west) to Grand Turk (in the wast), as well as alternatives, including redundancy and routes for connectivity to/by international fibre links”.

The sole international fibre link at the moment is Arcos-1, owned by C&W Networks, a subsidiary of Liberty Latin America. This is an 8,400km ring that connects various Caribbean island states, central American countries, Mexico and the US. But it was built in 2001.

The TCI government’s tender document says: “While Providenciales has international fibre connectivity, the other islands do not, and are connected via microwave wireless transmission, which is plagued by capacity issues and environmental issues that greatly reduces the service quality of their data and other communication services.”

The government warns that “communications supported by this technology is highly susceptible to disruptions from tropical storms, which often causes severe damage to the transmission equipment and supporting infrastructure, such as towers”.

A consultant with knowledge of the region told Capacity this week that the lack of any more modern infrastructure was “market failure”.

The government wants ideas for “a national fibre linking the main inhabited islands”, that will connect with international fibres and “enhance connectivity throughout the entire country”.

It says: “The key aim of the project is to modernise and transform the domestic telecommunications market with a particular focus on affordability, resilience,

quality of service, e-government, inclusion, and an increase in economic and social opportunities.”

The TCI has eight inhabited islands, out of 40, with a population of 46,000 in an area of 948 sq km.