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WiredJa Online News

Antigua and Barbuda to invest millions in state-owned Internet provider

ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) — The Antigua and Barbuda Government says the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) will invest millions of dollars in upgrading its facilities so as to make it much more competitive in the telecommunication sector.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said APUA, which provides electricity, water, Internet and mobile services, would spend an estimated EC$80 million (US$29,600,000) in its own sub-sea cable, adding that high-speed broadband is essential to provide wide enough bandwidth to facilitate all the modern industries that now operate globally on the Internet.

Last month, the telecommunications company, Digicel, said it was seeking a meeting Browne after he accused the Irish-owned company as well as another provider, with “raping” the people of Antigua and Barbuda.

Digicel said that with serious issues around the liberalisation of the fixed line market and number portability to name but two “this is just the latest in a series of moves being made to stifle competition in the telecoms market in Antigua and Barbuda for the benefit of the state-owned APUA”.

Browne said that in 2019, “APUA will invest $80 million, to acquire its own sub-sea cable and to democratise access to the Internet through the provision of more affordable, reliable and faster internet service to residents,” dismissing the concerns of the existing foreign owned telecom providers.

“Although they have made considerable profits here which we do not begrudge them and to which they were entitled under the arrangements of their initial investments, they have not provided us with the technology require at prices that are fair and affordable,” Browne said in a radio and television broadcast.

“That is the reality. But our country, our people, our economy cannot wait. We must forge ahead and in doing so we are pushing no one out. Instead we are allowing APUA to set the pace in the race for better technology.

“It is the race in which the other existing providers are invited to join, Browne said. The Government has already passed legislation to ensure number portability and measures to ensure the equitable redistribution of the 850 spectrum among the telecom companies and Browne said that the APUA investment will rebound to other sectors of the economy.

“As offshoot of APUA's participation in this lucrative world, its profitability will be utilised in part to subsidise the operation and maintenance of two additional osmosis plants …in 2019,” he said noting that the addition of the two plants would increase the “reliability and sustainability of our water supply”.

“We will also continue to tackle electricity supply, which we want to be both reliable and cheaper. So in 2019, our Government will install about eight megawatts of wind and solar voltaic power….at a cost of EC$40 million,” Browne said.

  • Countries: Antigua_Barbuda

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