Hopes of bringing high-speed internet access to St Helena have been given a strong boost with reports of a contract deal.
The plan involves connecting the island to an undersea cable that eFive Telecoms wants to lay between South Africa and Brazil.
The company has now awarded a contract to supply nearly ten thousand kilometres of fibre optic cable for the South Atlantic Express (SAEx) project.
From Brazil, onward fast access to North America and Asia would be possible.
A spur from the telecoms cable could be run to St Helena – but only if funding can be raised.
St Helena Government has confirmed in the past that the idea was being actively pursued.
It is understood to have been cautiously interested from the early stages. The project was then pushed into prominence when German telecoms expert Christian von der Ropp launched the Connect St Helena! campaign.
He pushed for Saints to gain better internet access as a human right, and secured international media coverage.
Reports have put the cost of linking the island to the cable at several million pounds.
Supporters have argued that high speed internet is vital to the island’s hoped-for tourism boom.
The island currently relies on a satellite connection, giving slow download speeds by global standards, even for customers paying hundreds of pounds a year.
eFive Telecoms is reported to have been issued with the licences it needs, valid for 20 years.
Financial arrangements are not expected to be finally sealed until a few months into 2013. Funders have not been named.
Connect St Helena!