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Horizon plans to offer high-speed internet

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Through the air: Horizon Communications’ proposed fixed wireless internet service will use a number of communication towers on the island. Customers will receive their internet connection through a small antenna instalment at their home

A new internet service provider aims to be operating in Bermuda by the summer, providing high speed connections of 300 Mbps to customers.

And Horizon Communications is embracing cutting edge technologies, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies, as part of its business model to provide a fixed wireless internet service to the island.

To raise capital for the venture Horizon will conduct what is known as an initial coin offering where its utility token, known as a HRZN token, will be available for purchase, using cryptocurrencies.

Horizon’s proposed service will not need a cabling network as it delivers internet connectivity to customers using fixed wireless technology.

The service will be transmitted from a number of established telecommunications towers on the island, with customers receiving the signal through a small receiver unit at their home.

Gilbert Darrell, founder and chief executive officer of Horizon, said similar equipment is already in operation around the world, providing high-speed internet in a number of countries. The wireless signal does not need “line of sight” to be able to reach customers.

The company believes its service will reach 95 per cent of the island, and it anticipates that within two years of starting it will be able to deliver internet speeds faster than 600 Mbps.

Horizon’s services beyond internet will include voice-over-IP and IPTV. And the company has ambitions to expand into the Caribbean.

One hurdle faced by the business is obtaining the required Icol [integrated communications operating licence] and spectrum licence to operate in Bermuda. The Regulatory Authority of Bermuda oversees electronic communication services on the island, and it confirmed there is currently a moratorium on the issuing of new Icol and spectrum licences.

The RAB issued a statement yesterday to inform the public that Horizon does not hold either licence and therefore has no access to the required wireless spectrum it would need to operate its service in Bermuda.

However, Mr Darrell said: “Horizon has met informally with the RAB, formally with government staff and Ministers before the election and through our partner’s communiqué.”

He said that through those conversations: “We have found an approved solution and have negotiated with licence holders to partner with to launch our services. Horizon is committed to working with the RAB for their goal is the same as Horizon’s, seeing a better telecommunications environment in Bermuda.”

The RAB said it was not aware of any deals to use another Icol and licence “and would expect to be notified of any such proposal”.

Horizon’s plan is to be headquartered at the former VSB TV station premises at Ocean View Golf Course, Devonshire, where it will use the Barkers Hill Tower communications mast. It will subsequently lease the use of four communication towers elsewhere on the island to establish an island-wide network service.

Mr Darrell, who has 17 years of experience in information technology and telecommunications, described current internet service in Bermuda as “unfortunately lacklustre” and not up to standard. He said: “Horizon aims to quickly address these deficiencies and bring cutting-edge high-speed internet service to Bermuda.

“We will be offering 300 Mbps out the door, and we will release the price plan soon.”

Horizon anticipates it can deliver internet services to its first customers by June. But first it must raise a target amount of capital through its ICO, which is open to participants around the world.

The company plans to be one of the first in the world to offer a cryptocurrency crowdsale through selling its utility tokens in exchange for the cryptocurrency ethereum, also known as ether. A system is in place to allow buyers to convert other cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, into ethereum to buy HRZN tokens.

According to Horizon’s white paper proposal document, future advantages for token holders are likely to include discounts on services, dividends and buyback options.

The crowd sale is planned to begin on January 22 The initial “soft cap” target would see 2,500 ether raised, the equivalent of about $2 million at current pricing.

Mr Darrell said if the soft cap target was not reached, token buyers would have their money returned.

When asked if he had any concern that people would be put off investing in a company through digital currency and utility tokens, Mr Darrell pointed to the increasing use of ICOs to raise funds for start-ups compared to traditional venture capital investment.

“The crypto community has been receptive,” he said.

Mr Darrell is a member of the Bermuda Cryptocurrency Task Force, set up by the Bermuda Government in November to explore business development opportunities for the island in the sphere of digital currencies, tokens and blockchain.

Once Horizon is fully in operation, Mr Darrell believes it will have a staff of around 30 in Bermuda.

The current 11-strong Horizon team is featured on the company website, and includes two technology consultants and a blockchain consultant.

Cryptocurrencies and utility tokens are not the only new technologies that Horizon intends to utilise. On its website it proclaims it is the world’s “first telecommunications company powered by the ethereum blockchain”.

Horizon intends to use distributed ledger technology, commonly known as blockchain, in a number of areas, including customer payments, with customers who use cryptocurrencies benefiting from a discounted rate compared to those who use dollars. Blockchain will also be used for data storage and other aspects of the service.

On Friday, Mr Darrell will take part in a question-and-answer session regarding Horizon, its business plan and the ICO, at the Mariners’ Club on Richmond Road. The event will start at 6pm, and will be broadcast on Facebook Live.

Further details on Horizon and its planned ICO, including the white paper document, can be found at https://horizoncomm.co/

Business plan: Gilbert Darrell, founder of Horizon Communications
Central hub: Horizon Communications plans to start its fixed wireless internet service using the Barkers Hill Tower communication mast