Island passed America’s Cup telecoms test
Bermuda’s telecommunications capabilities were put to the test during the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event last month, and the Island came out with flying colours.
So much so that the America’s Cup organisers are looking to replicate the way Bermuda organised its event-specific telecommunications network, and use it as a framework at future World Series events.
“Chicago is going to be modelled on what Bermuda achieved. We had a world class system,” said Fiona Beck, chairwoman of the ACBDA’s telecommunications team.
The US city is be among the hosts of next year’s Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events.
“The America’s Cup is looking to replicate this in other places. They are going to use our network design and how it was organised. They will use the framework we have created,” said Ms Beck.
The World Series event in Bermuda soaked up ten times more wireless spectrum than was used by the PGA Grand Slam of Golf events on the Island in past years.
An estimated $885,000 was spent on upgrades and new technology infrastructure, the majority of which remains in place for continuing or future use.
That represents a substantial boost for the economy, said Ms Beck, who is also deputy chairwoman for KeyTech.
“Eighty-five per cent of that spend is legacy. There is now improved wifi on Front Street. We have a lot of fibre in the city that can be reused,” she said, also mentioning temporary and mobile cell towers that can be reused.
She praised the level of collaboration between competing service providers to ensure Bermuda shone during the sailing spectacle.
“We had ten providers and the co-operation between them was something we have not seen before,” she said.
“People appreciated that the eyes of the world were watching. Everyone had a role to play and something to contribute.” Among new pieces of equipment used during the World Series racing was a $300,000 cell tower on wheels brought in by Digicel. It was sited on White’s Island to boost wireless coverage on Front Street. CellOne placed a number of temporary towers in locations where they could augment coverage around Hamilton waterfront, while TeleBermuda International installed new wifi capability for the Front Street environs. Miles of additional fibre cabling was laid around Hamilton, some replacing redundant networks and some remaining in place for future use.
“Everyone was going at it. I’m very proud of the way Bermudians embraced this,” said Ms Beck, who is a former president of the Australia and New Zealand-focused Southern Cross Cable Network company.
“The event brought forward a whole lot of plans. Bermuda can now use this as a platform going forward. We have the ability to ramp up connectivity.”
For the Island, the focus now shifts to the 35th America’s Cup in 2017, when Bermuda will see a full month of activity around the finale of the prestigious sporting event.
“There are still areas to improve,” said Ms Beck, mentioning increasing wifi at LF Wade International Airport and around Dockyard, and boosting wireless communication around the Great Sound. The need for robust and extensive wireless network coverage across the Sound was highlighted when thousands of spectators took to the water last month to watch the World Series racing close up.
“Bermuda has the capacity to do that and we have the technology to deliver,” said Ms Beck, who praised her colleagues on the ACBDA telecommunication team. The other committee members are Anthony Briscoe, Michael Branco, Aaron Smith and Kim Perdikou.
Ms Beck added: “In 2017, it will be on a bigger scale. There will be additional set-ups. We have shown Bermuda can do it. With the World Series, we stood out as world class.”