back to article Tiny Brit island stranded after £10m undersea fibre plea sunk

Days after walking away from the ITU treaty on global communications, which asked nations to connect up their islands, the UK confirmed it will not readily stump up the cash to do just that. The island in question is St Helena, a British territory smack bang in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Its inhabitants need £10m …

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      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: article totally misses the point

        Sure they could take off but not with fuel for 6000+ km and especially not with additional cargo to carry all that way.

    1. mhenriday
      Meh

      Re: article totally misses the point

      «Estimated costs amount to $10-15m, not £10m.» Given that the current (4 January 2013) conversion rate between GBP and USD is 1.62 : 1, the distinction between «$10-15m» and «£10m» (why this use of «m», rather than «M» to mean «millions» (10^6) ?!!) hardly seems significant....

      Henri

  1. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Would it not be cheaper to install more satellite dishes to the island. Say 1 satellite shared between every 20 properties? Not going to be very fast but i worked in an office for years which had 20 staff and a 2Mb internet connection and we managed ok

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      I'll attempt an explanation but there a very good chance I could be wrong :)

      Basically I think it comes down to their location and economies of scale. When satellites are designed and built a choice is made whether to focus the beams in a narrow or wide area. Over a densely populated area the beams will be narrow, so satellites over the USA (or Europe) will likely have many narrow beams, whereas birds covering areas like the south atlantic will have a wide beam, covers a large area and theres normally very little usage. Voice calls from ships, the odd bit of bgan activity from vary sized boats, maybe some wave bouys calling home, the odd scientific experiment, but basically not the amount of activity you would get over a well populated area. So when you get an island (which is densely populated compared to the open ocean) in the middle of open ocean, using satellite for internet needs, as those needs accelerate it becomes far too expensive to keep paying high monthly charges to use the satellite and more sense to stump up a large initial fee to tap into a cable. Even more so when somebody is willing to help by diverting a planned cable closer.

      I believe it was mentioned either above or in the article that there simply isn't any cheap satellite coverage for that area like there would be over Europe or America and what coverage there is for the area is spread thinly and therefore prohibitively expensive for 'modern usage patterns'.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      More Dishes?

      No help. One dish or 450 Dishes is same total speed, The limit is the Satellite, about 45k km above the Earth. Actually one larger dish, say 3.7m is far better efficiency and capacity than 100 small dishes. The Satellite bandwidth is shared. As you have more dishes sharing the efficiency drops.

      Even in Europe, Ka-Sat which has TWENTY times the highest previous capacity satellite in Europe only has about the same capacity as a small rural exchange and less than one UPC or Virgin Media or BT Open Reach fibre fed street cabinet.

      Apart from the useless latency, satellite capacity is rubbish. One Terrestrial Fixed Wireless Access mast (not to be confused with Mobile) can have as much capacity as an entire satellite (the bird, not the dishes, which MUST share out the capacity).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "which won't be helped at all by fitting a high-speed internet connection even if it is a good deal cheaper"

    Wait 'til they set up a military base. Even if it's minimally staffed in preparation for supporting aircraft heading toward the Falklands, they'll find a reason why that extra £10million is really, really necessary.

  3. Frank Bough

    I'm for it

    It seems to me that future economic viability for St Helena depends in no small part on decent comms infrastructure, as it does everywhere else. Who knows, some enterprising soul might use it to build a business that can allow us to reduce their subsidy in the future.

  4. chappers

    Argentina reignites Falklands row

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20896050

    might need that link and airport sooner, rather than later......

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Argentina reignites Falklands row

      Argentina "re-ignites" the Falklands issue whenever its government runs into political trouble at home. Since their economy has tanked rather badly in recent years, that means they rattle sabres every few months. However, the local population aren't taken in by this (unlike the UK press) so I doubt we'll be needing a runway on St Helena any time soon.

      Besides which, we hardly have any armed forces anymore, so what exactly would we be hoping to land there? I suppose if the balloon goes up we could drop MoD paper-pushers and BAe lobbyists on the enemy. We seem to have an infinite supply of those. Might fall foul of an international treaty or two, though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Argentina reignites Falklands row

        Has everyone forgotten that there are plans to extract oil from the sea-floor surrounding the Falklands and this makes them an economic target?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Ohhhhh, ouch! El Reg is busted by the Island

    Enjoy the press statement from the campaigners:

    http://www.movethiscable.org/news.php#20130103

    :-)

  6. M7S
    Black Helicopters

    I know which department would pay

    £10M for the chance to put a tap on lots of comms between Africa and South America?

    Give those nice people in the doughnut shaped building a call.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know which department would pay

      They don't have any budget that isn't accounted for by Theresa May ordering illegal wiretaps (as specified by the Labour government but in use currently).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know which department would pay

      Nice idea but this wouldn't be a so-called festoon landing where the main cable is laid to the shore but just a "trunk & branch" layout which means an underwater branching unit with an optical add/drop multiplexer (OADM) would divert one out of 160 wavelength carriers to the island by an unrepeatered branch and this wavelength carrier would only carry communications between St Helena and Fortaleza, Brazil, while the remaining 159 wavenlengths pass the island.

  7. Ivan Headache

    I wonder which is the cheaper option?

    One of my clients recently returned from a holiday on St Helena (retracing family history).

    Building an airport there is not an easy option as the island is a lot like Madeira in topography.

    Also, there is not really a harbour that can be used to unload all the stuff that would be needed to do the onstruction. The mail boat anchors off-shore and the visitors have to be transdferred to small boats to get ashore - as does all the produce and goods arriving at the island.

    She tells me that many of the islanders she spoke with were not actually in favour of the airport as they think it will destroy their unique way of life.

    Moving the cable and setting up a data centre on the island could be a cheaper (and potentially more profitable) option.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just persuade Google...

    ...that it'd be an ideal location to serve both Africa and South America and you'll find that £10 mill is mere pocket change.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just persuade Google...

      Good idea, but impossible without at least one separate cable as redundancy.

    2. Bob H
      Devil

      Re: Just persuade Google...

      Someone call Kim Dotcom, sounds like pocket change for that bad boy...

  9. Captain Scarlet
    Childcatcher

    "it prefers to lobby quietly"

    Except for they spammed their front pages with links to it

  10. Ross K
    Joke

    Somebody please...

    ...send these people a hardcopy of the internet so they can do some serious surfing, à la Dilbert's PHB.

    http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/1999-06-06/

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Somebody please...

      Thanks for the Dilbert, Ross K, it did make me smile and Ponder for more than just a few moments on the Wonder of a Wander into Wonders.

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    10,000,000 for an island is a steal, and fabulous bargain too for a heavenly node

    See Sir Richard .... for a Virgin ConneXXXXion. He's surely the Bright White Knight most able to Effect Cosmic Change with a Supply of Rabid Interest in Flash Cash and Loose Change Provision Markets :-)

    :-) I shall now luxuriate in such as are those true facts and ponder on wonders now to become ..... generated autonomously with beautifully obscured controls providing IntelAIgent Security and Virtual Protection in SMARTR Sectors of Driver Energy and Core Power Control with AIdDistribution.

  12. JaitcH
    Meh

    Call it St. Helena, Africa and Cameron will find the money ...

    as his record of gifting African countries might do St. Helena some good.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy solution

    Offer Kim Dotcom residency with a no-extradite clause if he foots the bill for the glass.

  14. jpgreenwood

    Try teaching IT on a shonky old satellite connection...

    I live in St Helena, and I teach IT here. It definitely takes a bit of creative planning in order to do things that I wouldn't have to think twice about in the UK, but it's the enormous cost of home broadband, particularly when viewed in light of local salaries, that costs the kids here. We aren't wildly over-resourced in terms of books, etc, so high speed, cheap internet access would be a big deal for our kids who right now aren't able to access the huge amount of educational goodness online.

    I can see why Christian from the campaign is annoyed about the reporting here - there was never any real hope that UK gov't would stump up the funding, and the distinction between this potential avenue of funding being sunk and the campaign being sunk isn't immediately clear.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cant afford it?

    If we cant afford to look after these places maybe we should let them go? The Foreign office likes to pretend it still rules the world but it doesnt.

    1. Ross K
      FAIL

      Re: Cant afford it?

      If we cant afford to look after these places maybe we should let them go?

      If you must go around colonising other countries, you can't really moan at having to support them.

      Shiiiiit, even when you get divorced you pay maintenance don't you?

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Cant afford it?

      They're too small to be independent, and if *we* can't afford to look after them, who else is going to want to be lumbered with them?

      1. Ross K
        Thumb Up

        Re: Cant afford it?

        If (or should I say when) the 6 billion barrels of oil in the Falklands comes online I predict a mass exodus.

        When did uk.gov say that new airport was going to be ready again?

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