By Fay Simmons
Tribune Business Reporter
Cable Bahamas has teamed with another provider to develop a $5m sub-sea fibre network that will provide broadband Internet connectivity to hundreds of residents across 34 Exuma cays.
Andrew Allen, Global Nexus co-founder and director, yesterday said the network infrastructure will link 34 cays between Norman’s Cay and Great Exuma. “We at Global Nexus are elated that we’re finally at the end of a long road towards the delivery of service through the communities of the Exuma cays, including three public communities - Farmer’s Cay, Staniel Cay and Black Point - which are all have resident Bahamian populations.
“We’re grateful for the efforts of our partners, Cable Bahamas who have demonstrated a commitment to doing their part. They’ve now brought fibre all the way to Norman’s Cay from New Providence to the top of the Exuma chain. And we are now taking it to the mainland, covering all of the 34 settlements and private and public cays between. The total cost of the installation from our side is just north of $5m.”
Franklyn Butler, Cable Bahamas chief executive, said of the partnership: “Currently, our focus is on enhancing connectivity by establishing a backbone infrastructure that will predominantly cater to high demand nodes and vital economic centres. However, this is a crucial step in paving the way for more extensive subsequent advantages, ultimately fostering a more connected community.
“We are making strategic investments in infrastructure, setting a foundation for a resilient and thriving Bahamas. A vision where every individual and community is not only connected and well equipped, but also primed to seize the opportunities of tomorrow.”
The Cable Bahamas chief added that new investment projects targeted at the Family Islands will increase the demand for reliable Internet service, and the new Exuma cays fibre installation will increase both broadband capacity and quality.
He said: “I think everybody knows the level of tourism expansion that’s happening on the Family Islands, particularly Exuma leading the way in that regard, and we think this is a place that we have to be. As the population continues to grow, and development of hotels and communities continue to grow across the Exumas, we see an opportunity to expand capacity.
“We continue to have, from time-to-time, service challenges in the Exumas, and so we’re delighted to see brand new cable being run with the capacity to allow us to do all the things we need to do to make sure that Bahamians in Exuma ultimately are able to get world-class service in their hometown.”
Mr Butler explained that improved service will not come at increased costs to consumers but will expand services and improve resiliency. “From a Cable Bahamas perspective, and we’ll have most of the last mile customers, there’ll be no difference in our costing than anywhere else in the Bahamas,” he added.
“This will just give us a greater level of resiliency, and a greater level of capacity in the Exuma cays. It’s really an opportunity for expanded services to the average consumer of Exuma.” Mr Allen explained that the fibre network will have three main points in Staniel Cay, Norman’s Cay and Rolleville, which will provide high speed service to the cays along that route.
He said: “The main trunk of this fibre is going to run from Norman’s Cay down to Staniel Cay, and from Staniel Cay to Rolleville. And these are the three main drops that we would have along the trunk. We will run fibre to individual cays in between and beside the trunk. Once we get to Rolleville, we will then loop back to Barraterre, bringing fibre to that community using existing fibre.
“Every one of these cays along this route will have access to gigabit Internet speeds, which means the level of Internet service you’d see in the city you now have throughout the Exuma cays.”
Mr Allen said the improved service will benefit schools, government agencies and residents of Exuma, and provide them with the same level of service available in the capital.
He added: “One important aspect of what we’re doing is we’ll provide the general public in the various communities in these cays with speeds that are world class; for Zoom, for conferencing, for streaming, all the kinds of activities that are presently eating up much of the bandwith that’s present.
“This means that from the day of installation, places like Staniel, Black Point and Farmers Cay will see the benefit. Schools, clinics, government administration complexes,and the general public on these small island communities will be elevated into the top tiers of Internet speeds and connectivity.”
Mr Allen said Global Nexus will provide service to wholesale consumers such as Cable Bahamas, resorts and developers, with the BISX-listed communications provider offering service to residents and businesses in Exuma.
He said: “There’s two kinds of customers. The public communities are going to be receiving their Internet through Cable, and which is downstream, the largest last mile and others. We will be wholesaling to these entities and we would also have some of the higher end private islands buying from us in bulk, which would be a different proposition.
“So it’s not it’s going to seriously impact the cost of Internet services to Bahamians in the Exuma cays but it will seriously impact the quality of service”