Connection to Inet’s high speed internet is now available island wide in Antigua, making the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) the first local entity to operate a fixed broadband network supported fully by fibre.
APUA announced the completion of its fixed fibre network during a grand ceremony on Thursday night at the John E. St. Luce Finance & Conference Centre.
Esworth Martin, General Manager at the APUA said financing for the US$21 million fibre-to-home project did not come easy.
“A lot of work had to be put in to developing a strong business case to convince our bankers, ACB [Antigua Commercial Bank] of our credit worthiness, and the viability of this project and the overall strategic direction of the Authority,” he recalled.
According to Mr. Martin, the transition for this pioneering endeavour was completed under budget and two months over the deadline due to supply chain issues.
Vaughan Browne, Telecoms Business Unit Manager said the project was stalled by a year due to lockdowns triggered by covid-19.
“We have built an outside plant network, which barring damage will last past everyone’s in this room retirement,” he assured.
The Gigabyte Passive Optical Network (G-pon) network supports up to 2.5 gigabits per seconds download and 1.3 gigabits per second uploads.
While majority of the island is covered by the fast speed internet, Mr. Browne noted that there are “few clusters around the island” where fibre-to-the-home is not yet available including on Barbuda.
“These are mostly new developments which did not exist when they survey was performed back in 2019. We are actively reviewing these areas with a view of addressing them in the coming months,” he explained.
Alan Leif, Vice President of Sales, US Major Accounts, Canada, LATAM, CALIX also assured that the new network is “future proof”.
“It’s amazing to see Antigua & Barbuda make that investment, not only for today but for the future … I’m very excited to see what it’s going to bring to the economic sustainability and the citizens of your country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sir Robin Yearwood, Minister for Public Utilities recalled the launch of Inet on Dec 1, 2005 when he said the department only had a customer base of 3,300 compared to today when they boast of having 26,000 active customers.
To close out the night, Sir Robin also announced that APUA was already testing 5G internet technology and was actively negotiating for a subsea cable contractor. By establishing a subsea cable, the company hopes to be able to reduce the price of broadband services to its customers.
Adding to his announcement, Gaston Browne Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda reaffirmed his government’s plans to transition APUA PCS into a corporation and list it on Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange (ECSE) which would allow nationals to buy shares.