Montserrat launches customer programme for national fibre optic

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BRADES, Montserrat — The government of Montserrat announces the launch of a new voucher programme to facilitate the rapid roll-out of fibre-optic broadband to premises across Montserrat.

This scheme, known as Project Lightspeed, is announced exactly one year after the commissioning of Montserrat’s new fibre optic capability in October 2020 – the culmination of a £5m capital project delivered in partnership with Southern Caribbean Fibre, and funded through the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG).

The voucher programme is funded through the European Union Development Fund aims to reduce the cost to consumers of connecting their premises to the new fibre network, and to accelerate the national roll-out of gigabit-capable internet services.

Available for up to 2,000 private and business premises in this first phase, vouchers can be used by eligible customers at the time of signing up to new fibre optic contracts through either of the current Internet service providers, namely Digicel Montserrat and FLOW Montserrat.

“Our ambition is bold and simple,” premier Farrell explained: “Project Lightspeed will transform the digital experience for all in Montserrat, and ensure that there is no barrier to consumers at the point of connection to new fibre optic services. By allocating funds to the customer voucher scheme, our government has guaranteed the acceleration of the national roll-out of the fibre network, whilst securing important benefits to the consumer.”

In real terms, this should mean that the consumer does not finance the cost of new equipment or transferring to the fibre network.

Denzil West, director of the Department for Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES), said: “I am pleased that we are able to deliver on our promise to bring the benefits of fibre – that we are already enjoying across the government estate – to the majority of consumers in Montserrat. In return for the receipt of customer vouchers, government will be able to secure certain guarantees from the Internet service providers including minimum speeds for consumers. More information on the detailed terms of the vouchers will be shared very soon. This is an excellent deal for the people of Montserrat, which will open up a myriad of opportunities for accessing or providing online services which require high bandwidth capacity and reliability.”

Eligible applicants will complete a Voucher Allocation Form at the time of signing up to a new agreement. The government of Montserrat will pay the value of the voucher to the service provider, once the physical connection is made. The Government will also assure the quality of the delivered service through spot-checks and other methods.

Martin Parlett, head of the programme management office, added: “Ever since the initial investment in fibre infrastructure, we have been focused on how we can deliver benefit to as many people in Montserrat as possible. Taking learning from other fibre subsidies around the world, we believe that Project Lightspeed is an excellent deal for consumers, and an important enabler for future economic growth. As potentially the most connected island in the Caribbean, Montserrat will be able to leverage and attract new opportunities in the digital economy, and beyond.”

Permanent secretary for the office of the premier, Daphne Cassell, concluded: “I recognize the strategic buy-in of our funding partners – Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and European Union (EU) and applauds the tremendous efforts of the technical teams to bring about the reality of resilient Internet connectivity. This will spawn a vast array of opportunities for business innovation, distance learning and telemedicine, in addition to enhancing the competitiveness of Montserrat as a tourist destination.”

The validity date for the customer vouchers will be confirmed very shortly, along with further details of the programme. Consumers are encouraged to contact the service providers to learn more about their fibre optic packages and the plans for roll-out in their area.

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