Getting Tobago truly connected with submarine fiber optic cable system

Launching the inter island cable from Toco while the Cable Ship Intrepid waits offshore to begin laying the cable on the sea floor between Tobago and Trinidad

You might say they comprise the inglorious underbelly of all the glitz and glamour surrounding our enjoyment of the Internet and social networking. Their names are downright pedestrian, they seldom ever see the light of day and they traverse some of the most inhospitable territory known to man. All of this they endure without complaining while dutifully transporting your posts, ‘Likes’, searches, videos, news feeds, purchases and emails among other things.

Submarine fibre optic cables are the main transport conduit for our information age. Running along the ocean floor in the Caribbean, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and even Arctic, there is enough cable to circumnavigate the world many times. In spite of this, the technology behind submarine fibre optic cable systems allows data to flow between continents in less than a quarter of a second. In fact according to info on Wikipedia, 250 milliseconds (a quarter of a second) is the recommended limit for the delay a person should face waiting for a web page to load. Data therefore has to make round trips covering thousands of miles in an instant.

There are over 250 submarine cable systems connecting almost everynook and cranny of the world and recently, Trinidad and Tobago got its first dedicated super highspeed fibre optic cable connecting both islands. Blink/bmobile and the THA are among the investors who funded the project and with this new cable, Tobago’s future has gotten several shades brighter.

Blink/bmobile invested over TT$18.5 M in the project and has one quarter of the total capacity of the Inter Island cable which went into service on August 3rd 2012.  Spanning some 44 kilometres between Mission, Toco and Milford, Crown Point the fibre optic cable gives Blink/bmobile virtually unlimited capacity for services in Tobago.  

Compared to Satellite and microwave wireless systems, fibre optic cables provide superior transmission quality, considerably fewer delays, high transmission capacity, access to the global optical fibre network, lower unit costs, no electromagnetic interference and since they are at the bottom of the ocean, they have less risk during adverse weather conditions.

The benefits of the inter island cable are already being delivered as bmobile launch 4 bzone sites in Tobago in August shortly after the cable was put into service. The sites at the Ferry Terminal, Lowlands Mall, Pigeon Point and Store Bay are part of a program to allow exiting customers free Wi-Fi access at 4G speeds in popular locations. These will be complemented by a Mobile 4G network that bmobile is rolling out nationwide.

Around the world, data services underpin all economic activity and it is blink /bmobile’s goal to use the Inter island cable to support the business and tourism strategies of private companies and administrators in Tobago. Services like Metro Ethernet which gives scalable highspeed network connectivity to branch offices of a company will enable business that are so inclined, to decentralise and have remote offices in more communities with the spin off benefit of greater access for customers and greater employment opportunities. It also will allow for the use of enterprise grade video conferencing solutions for greater collaboration which has been proven to increase productivity while supporting a reduction in operating costs.

Additionally fixedline-based broadband  and subscription TV services from Blink have also been given a shot in the arm by the inter island. For Blink / bmobile as the country’s only quintuple service provider, there are new opportunities for stakeholders in Tobago to get the benefit of modern communications services that are in keeping with the aspirations of Tobagonians building a stronger, diversified, connected economy.