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Batelco Trumps Regional Carriers, Builds Cable Connection to Haiti
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Posted by:Dec 12th 2006, 12:18:35 pm
Fig Tree News Team

BTC Boss Says Haiti Cable Connection To Save Money

By Quincy Parker

CEO and President of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Leon Williams has "put some of the numbers on the table" regarding the value of connecting Haiti to The Bahamas Domestic Submarine Cable Network International (BDSNi).

Mr. Williams explained that the total cost of the BDSNi is $60 million. That network was completed in October and
officially commissioned last week at a ceremony in Matthew Town, Inagua.

The CEO said that connecting Haiti to the network cost nearly $6 million, compared to the cost of connecting Bimini to Grand Bahama and the rest of the islands for $6.1 million.

There are 8.4 million people living in Haiti, 2.4 million living in Port-au-Prince. According to Mr. Williams, the calls leaving The Bahamas are asymmetrical going to Haiti, which means The Bahamas sends more calls to Haiti than Haiti sends to us.

He said the ratio is about 300,000 to 60,000.

"In the telephone business there's a netting off - so the person who sends the most calls ends up paying the other network. So BTC pays (telephone companies in Haiti) roughly about $6 million a year," he said.

"If we build a cable to Haiti and we could reduce those rates going to Haiti and our payments to Haiti, that reduction alone could pay for the cable. Now Haiti's got 8.4 million people. How many of them living in The Bahamas? Thirty thousand. How many living in South Florida? Three hundred thousand. How many Haitians living in the United States? Eight hundred thousand. All that traffic now has to pass through The Bahamas. BTC makes money off it. It's just business."

And while he refused to give details, Mr. Williams told the Journal that BTC has been in discussions with two neighbouring countries to run cables into Inagua for the company to provide them cable telecommunications services.

"There have been two neighbouring countries that BTC has been in discussions with, one for the last three or four years and another within the last 12 months, but we didn't want to interrupt the schedule of this cable," he said.

"In addition to that there are a couple more islands in The Bahamas that we have to put fibre optic cables to."

He added, "But Inagua now is poised as a national operation control (NOC) centre for BTC. (Now) the primary NOC is in Nassau and the secondary NOC is in Inagua. So Inagua is a monitoring point for the cable to Haiti, and if we bring the other two cables in, it would then have three international cables coming in there."

Mr. Williams also insisted that BTC has "one of the most sophisticated (systems)" in the region.

"Keeping in mind that there is no other country in the Western Hemisphere like The Bahamas - 700 islands, rocks and cays. We've connected 14 (of them). You can't compare us to a Jamaica, or Barbados. Haiti did not have a fibre optic submarine cable until we just built one. That's 8.4 million people," he said.

"Cuba - 11.9 million people - does not have a fibre optic submarine cable. Jamaica lost theirs in Hurricane Ivan; they just launched their new fibre optic cable.earlier this year. So when you compare us with the rest of the Caribbean, we've been able to hook up 14 major islands at a cost of $60 million."

Of course, it's much better in the Bahamas. But we don't mean to intrude.

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