Global Crossing extends FCO network to Tristan da Cunha

Monday 22 May 2006 | 14:50 CET | News
Global Crossing has announced it has extended the reach of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) network to the world's most remote island community, Tristan da Cunha. Extension of the FCO Telecommunications Network (FTN) to the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha in the south Atlantic brings modern communications to the community of 275, most of whom live by farming, the processing of lobster or crayfish, the administration of their island and a growing trade in philatelic services and tourism. The provision of robust connections via the FTN network will greatly improve communications to the outside world for the island's administration and the community at large. Providing communications to Tristan has never been easy. The early settlers relied on passing ships to exchange messages with friends and family overseas. In 1938, members of the visiting Norwegian Scientific Expedition installed their own radio operator and two years later, the establishment of a Royal Naval signals station during the Second World War (HMS Atlantic Isle) led to the introduction of the first permanent radio station and post office. Today, mail services via Cape Town in South Africa are subject to the schedule of passing fishing vessels and the vagaries of the weather. Post can be delayed for months and calls using either high-frequency links with Cape Town Radio or by satellite telephone are prohibitively expensive. Calls by radiophone are £1.50 a minute and £1.83 a minute by satphone. The island's Administrator, Mike Hentley, said connection to the FCO network will greatly reduce the island's dependence on costly, low-level communications and provide much improved Internet access. By being able to access the FTN, the Tristan da Cunha Government will be able to make calls and exchange e-mail via London at significantly reduced UK domestic and overseas rates. Currently, five e-mail systems are in use on the island serving the Administrator for his official communications with the Governor in St. Helena, the FCO in London and other systems being used by the Post & Telecommunications Department to send and receive emails on behalf of Islanders, the doctor, the crayfish processing factory manager and the Natural Resources Department. "Even with limited use of existing facilities, Tristan's telecommunications costs make up more than 12 percent of the island's annual budget. There's no doubt being connected to the FTN will greatly reduce the island's isolation and budget expenditure," said Mr. Hentley. Phil Metcalf, managing director of Global Crossing UK, said: "Although the FCO network was essentially completed in 2004, we continue to extend the benefits of a globally managed IP VPN to the remotest corners of the world, overcoming challenges posed by location, technology and logistics. Our solution will allow Tristan's administration to share the benefits enjoyed by other posts on the network and make a dramatic difference to the day-to-day life of Islanders." Tristan's small population and remoteness -- situated 6,000 miles from the UK and 1,750 miles from Southern Africa -- has made it unattractive to any commercial supplier of telecommunications services who might otherwise offer more competitive rates. However, Global Crossing in collaboration with Loral Skynet, a global satellite operator with expertise in integrating space and ground-based IP services, has connected Tristan to the FTN via Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT). Global Crossing operates satellite earth stations in Canberra, Australia, and Hampshire in the UK to which 153 remote locations are connected worldwide, including other island nations like Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. In all, the FTN connects 233 sites in 140 countries, providing secure, high-speed voice, data and messaging services to more than 16,000 users. Sites on the managed IP VPN include 153 embassies and high commissions in capital cities, 10 m

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Categories: Fixed
Companies: Global Crossing
Countries: Saint Helena
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