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Saintel the ISP on St Helena post fibre optic cable delivery

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‘Saintel’ St Helena’s new potential internet service and communication provider announced this week that they are launching their new business venture as an Island wide Internet service provider tailored for the future needs of St Helena.

The Wireless thinking provider has promised that everyone from residential to business users on St Helena will benefit from the 21st century capability that is due for rollout in 2023 providing they can get the government’s approval to deliver the service.

The question you might ask as a local internet user or visitor returning to St Helena in the future is what is going to be different about Saintel.

Forward thinking and long-time campaigner of internet connectivity to St Helena Christian von der Ropp together with Karl Thrower, a local business owner here on St Helena, who is behind the Saintel venture have set up the provider to operate as a non-profit organisation.

Saintel’s vision is to offer eighty percent of the Islands population the option to connect to the Saintel wireless high speed network within the first 12 months, they are also keen to share their network capability with international tech companies who want to trial and develop other technologies within the industry.

Some of Saintel’s published business objectives once the fibre optic cable is connected to St Helena are:

  • To provide affordable, reliable, high speed access to residential and businesses users on St Helena through a non-profit entity.
  • Support the Island community, embracing the digital transformation.
  • Help to mitigate the issues arising from St Helena‘s remoteness through the many new possibilities offered by the Internet.
  • Increase digital literacy and develop local skill sets through the correct training in digital technology.
  • Stop capital outflow (a key economic problem here on St Helena) caused by monopolist‘s dividend payments to its overseas parent. Instead, help to create more local circulation of money
  • Support the global Information and Communications Technology industry to trial new technologies, applications and products.
  • Collaborate with potential satellite earth station operators (infrastructure sharing) to unlock synergies and make St Helena more attractive to earth station operators.

Saintel will be incorporated under the laws of St Helena as a non-profit Private Limited Company by Guarantee. Saintel’s vision is to enable one of the most isolated communities in the world to join the global Information Society and to leapfrog into the broadband age and contribute to closing St Helena‘s digital divide.

Saintel’s plan or the market entry  of any another communications service provider on St Helena will only be possible if SHG allow competition by removing the exclusivity clause provided in Sure’s current license

Note the current exclusive public telecommunications licence with Sure SA Ltd will expire at the end on 31 December 2022, so no new provider could start operation before 2023

St Helena Government is in the process of a tender process to determine the next Public Electronic Communication Networks and Services provider/s for the Island.

St Helena online welcome any thoughts on expectations as a customers post fibre optic cable delivery on St Helena.  

Sat ground Station St Helena

Could this OneWeb news be great news for St Helena

This could be great news for St Helena as OneWeb, the UK satellite company that declared bankruptcy in late March 2020, was  the company that had committed to establish a major ground station on St Helena, will very likely be acquired by a consortium led by Indian Bharti Enterprises and the UK Government following an auction held in New York yesterday: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53279783

Particularly since the new plan is to add a GPS-like capability to some of the satellites, whose primary purpose is still the provision of global broadband Internet, it appears highly likely that OneWeb will revive its plans for a ground station on St Helena. The plans for the navigation capability come in response to both, the UK’s exclusion from the European Galileo system due to Brexit, and the increasing jamming and spoofing threats all existing satellite navigation systems are exposed to.

St Helena could play an even more major important role for this navigation capability as it will require precise timing facilities on the ground that synchronize with the satellites. Such are preferably located in safe territory like would be the case for the overseas territories. For Galileo such a ground station was established in the Falklands but had to be decommissioned because of Brexit.

The UK government website also confirms this news, that they lead a successful bid to acquire the cutting edge satellite technology company OneWeb today on their website  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-government-to-acquire-cutting-edge-satellite-network

This move signals the UK government’s ambition for the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing, and exploitation of novel satellite technologies through the ownership of a fleet of Low Earth orbit satellites.

Photo credit to earthstation.sh you can read more about earth station St Helena here 

Who wants to go to an island where iPhones don’t work?

 

St Helena’s dismal internet connection will deter people from travelling to the island when its airport is built, according to a telecoms blogger in Germany.

Martin Sauter, “a thought leader” in the industry, is aghast that St Helena’s 4,000 residents have to share a broadband connection that has less than half the bandwidth of his own connection at home.

He lends his voice to a campaign to route a new undersea high-speed cable via St Helena.

‘The British government wants to build an airport on St. Helena to stimulate tourism,’ notes Sauter. ‘But really, who wants to go there when Internet connectivity is limited at best and your iPhone can’t communicate with the rest of the world? Ten years ago, this might still have worked. Today only those suffering from communication overload might consider it. I doubt one can fill planes that way.’

Saint blogger Johnny Clingham has also joined the criticism of St Helena’s internet connectivity. ‘The internet is overpriced and so slow it can barely send an email on a daily basis,’ he says.

‘Most users on St Helena… are aware that it could cost them a month’s wages if they used more that their capped limit.’

The internet connection is via an ageing satellite, and frequently drops out because of ‘sun outages’ that are advertised in the island newspapers.

The Connect St Helena campaign now reports (20 January) that the chief executive of the South African company laying the cable is willing to consider routing it via the island. However, there would be a cost of several million pounds.

The campaigners say that’s a small fraction of what the UK government is spending on the new airport.

But as Martin Sauter points out, ‘in the 21st century, connectivity to the rest of the world is not just planes and ships.’

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