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Two big communications firms want to land cables in Bermuda

The Minister of Home Affairs, Walter H. Roban and the Minister of Labour, Jason Hayward, held a press conference at AB Place Media Room, Global House. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Two “major player” telecoms companies are interested in installing undersea cables that would land in Bermuda, the home affairs minister revealed yesterday.

Mr Roban, the home affairs minister, said other firms linked to giants such as Google and Facebook had potential interest in the island as they laid “the next generation of telecommunications cable” across the Atlantic.

Mr Roban identified Alcatel, a mobile telephone and internet corporation based in Hong Kong and SubCom, a global submarine cable corporation, out of “four substantive inquiries”.

He said the bids had the potential to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees, and “establish Bermuda as the only North Atlantic submarine telecommunications hub”.

Mr Roban added that Bermuda could follow a model used with success by islands in the Pacific.

Legislation to establish the island as a stopover for submarine communications cables was brought to the House of Assembly last year.

Mr Roban said: “These are private sector initiatives. They have no connection with Government putting any money in.

“We’ve provided the framework and the regime that will allow these cables to land in Bermuda. There are similar regimes throughout the Pacific.”

He added the island was “well positioned to be that hub” in the Atlantic.

Mr Roban said more regulations would tabled to “finalise that regime” in the next session of the House of Assembly.

He added: “The main thing we’re working on is that fee structure that needs to be finalised”.

Mr Roban said renewable energy presented another option for “growing and changing our economy”.

He added: “Eight to 10,000 homes in Bermuda are suitable for renewable energy right now.”

Mr Roban said there was a need to train up to 20 students as “level one solar installers” in the residential and commercial sector.

He added it was planned to bring in overseas trainers to Bermuda College to get Bermudians qualified.

Mr Roban said: “We are also introducing the ’competent persons scheme’, initially for solar installers, and being developed by the Department of Energy and Planning.

“This scheme will allow persons to benefit from a fast-tracked and abbreviated planning process once they have been certified as competent persons – meaning they can be trusted to adhere to the planning rules and building code for installation.“

He added that, under a rebate programme to help people invest in solar power, the Government had provided $320,000 in backing for 50 solar installations since 2018 which generated more than 230 kilowatts of energy since.

Mr Roban said a “Green Energy and Environmental Justice Fund” was planned to encourage on-island and overseas investors to install more solar units in homes and small businesses.

He added the fund would also help provide training for solar energy businesses, as well as start-up cash for “entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the renewable installers or energy management business”.

Mr Roban said the cash would be used to help develop wave power and allow “developers of new technology to build and test their technology in Bermuda”.

He added legislation is to be tabled introducing the “regulatory sandbox” concept for developers to test out new technologies for renewable energy on the island, under the Regulatory Authority’s oversight.

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Published November 03, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated November 02, 2020 at 7:51 pm)

Two big communications firms want to land cables in Bermuda

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