Homes and businesses on Montserrat will now have the option to experience the same high speed internet which government offices have been enjoying over the last year.
Digicel Montserrat on Wednesday morning launched it’s Digicel+ Fibre Internet plans. The company, which trades locally under Caribbean Cable Communications, beat the other telecoms provider Flow to the finish line, with the announcement it was ready to connect homes across the island.
Digicel entered the local market in November 2013 and has continued to expand its offerings to meet local demand from cable to mobile to broadband service.
Petronella Frith, the Digicel Operations Manager said the company has invested more than one million US dollars to upgrade their backbone. They have also built out a new cable network to connect homes and businesses.
Customers will now have the opportunity to receive at minimum ten times their current broadband speed when they sign up for the new fibre to home network.
Frith explained that the costs to connect all the homes is in the region of US$300,000. The Government of Montserrat’s new voucher scheme to subsidise the cost of the installations will defray the expense to consumers. A target of 2000 homes connected to fibre by February 2022 has been established by the government.
Dr. Samuel Joseph, Minister of Communications was on hand for the launch. He congratulated Digicel on their achievement, adding that bringing fibre to homes was 10 years in the making and one that successive governments have contributed to bringing to fruition.
On October 1, 2020, the Government of Montserrat announced that its Subsea Fibre installation project had been completed. Since that time, only government offices across the island have been able to benefit from the high speed internet connection.
Joseph said the service is now available to everyone who wants this. The minister said that faster internet opens up opportunities for bringing revenue to the island. He said with the new hospital coming on stream, telemedicine can be a reality with high speed connectivity.
Director of the Department for Information Technology and eGovernment Services (DITES), Denzil West said he was very happy to welcome Digicel as the first customer fully utilizing the fibre network.
West added that homes and businesses on island connected with high speed internet puts the island on par with development nations.
Martin Parlett of the Programme Management Office (PMO) said better internet will have many socio-economic benefits for residents. Once the voucher scheme agreement is signed, customers will benefit from attractive prices as well as speed guarantees. Parlett said the island’s schools, community centres and other public spaces will be connected as well.
Residents and businesses across the Belham Valley in Isles Bay will have to wait a bit longer to be connected to the new service. Frith explained that all of the conduits in Isles Bay are underground. Over the years these have been filled with ash and cannot be used to run the cables. She said currently, residents receive internet by utilising their wifi boxes and other cables strung through trees. The land covenants in the community prohibit the installation of overhead cables. This is a challenge for utility services on island. Frith said, they are working on a solution to ensure that the residents in the Southern most village on island can access faster internet.
Digicel is offering a download speed of 100Mbps with 20Mbps upload as its basic package. Customers currently receiving the 10Mbps broadband service can receive 100Mbps at the same price. There is a price guarantee in place for 12 months, after which the price will increase from $109/month to $129/month. Plans with speeds up to 300Mbps is being offered to homes and businesses.
Residents can visit the office to express interest in the service.