CATV operators and two major toll road operators in Jamaica have donated 650 kilometers of fiber optic cable to the Government for building the nation’s broadband network. These fiber optic cables will be an integral part of the Jamaican national fiber optic backbone network.
The cable television operators include the island’s two largest cable providers and 34 smaller rural cable providers.
Michael Saunderson, Operations Manager, Traffic Management Unit at the National Works Agency, thanked the generosity of cable television operators in the country and the two toll road operators for providing the fiber optic cables to improve the island’s connectivity.
The work has already been started and Saunderson said that the contractors had already started to splice the cables together and they have tested the link from Kingston to Santa Cruz that works at 10 Gbps.
The National Fibre Optic Communication Backbone is part of the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and will be used to connect crucial government institutions, including hospitals, schools, ports, airports, and health center.
Deploying the cables between Morant Bay and Montego Bay is expected to be completed by early January 2021. Once completed, this link will enable connectivity for the parish councils from Morant Bay and Montego Bay with the central Government.
The National Fibre Optic Communication Backbone will also support the rolling out of public hotspots in rural areas. Currently, the island has 13 hotspots in urban areas. With the National Fibre Optic Communication Backbone Network in place, the Government can provide services to the rural communities and enable a lot more Jamaicans to have access to the Internet. Through this project, the Government will seek to increase the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots from 13 to 30 over six months.
Jamaica has an underdeveloped fiber optic network and the island needs more fiber optic cables to serve its population. Jamaica has 3 mobile operators – FLOW, Claro, and Digicel.
Two more licenses were auctioned by the Jamaican government to provide mobile services on the island, including one that was previously owned by AT&T Wireless
FLOW has laid a submarine cable connecting Jamaica to the United States. With FLOW’s submarine cable, the total number of submarine cables connecting Jamaica has increased to four. FLOW offers mobile, fixed voice, fixed broadband, and TV services to the market. It has now become the first quad-play provider in Jamaica. The company runs a vast copper network.
FLOW also has an islandwide Hybrid Fiber and Coaxial network in the metropolitan areas of Kingston and Montego Bay. They also have small Fiber-to-the-home operations in certain sections of St. James that began in 2011.
The new fiber optic backbone network would significantly contribute to the connectivity within the islands.