St Maarten Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications Ted Richardson witnessed on Tuesday afternoon the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between St. Maarten International Telecommunications Services (SMITCOMS) and the National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands (RCN) related to the Saba, Statia Cable System (SSCS). This reports The Daily Herald. The MOA allows for further arrangements to be made to land the SSCS cable on St. Maarten at the landing point operated by SMITCOMS (beach manhole). A press release on Tuesday night read: “Minister Richardson and members of his Cabinet were very instrumental in facilitating the process in bringing the two signatory parties together, reaching to the point of the signing of the MOA on Tuesday.” An overview was carried out by the Minister and his Cabinet in August to ascertain what had been done in the past. Thereafter, all parties worked diligently leading to the successful signing of the MOA three months later.
The SSCS will bring extra telecommunications capacity for St. Eustatius and Saba, and it will also benefit St. Maarten. The MOA was signed by SMITCOMS Managing Director Eldert Louisa, while Sybren van Dam, signed on behalf of RCN as its Director. Minister Richardson stated on Wednesday, prior to observing the signing by the two aforementioned parties, that Tuesday was an important day for the countries of St. Maarten and the Netherlands, as well as TELEM Group of Companies.
“The issue of the subsea SSCS telecommunications cable has been resolved after lingering for nearly three years. After reviewing what had transpired, I decided to look for a win-win situation for all parties concerned, and this is the result of it. The signing of an MOA represents a win-win for both signatories and for the consumers of the BES islands and St. Maarten,” Richardson said. RCN Director Sybren van Dam said he was very pleased that the problem was resolved and was very glad to have been able to reach an agreement by working together. Louisa stated that he was very happy today as he represented the landing partner, adding that TELEM Group of Companies has the expertise and knowledge, and RCN chose the best party with respect to this endeavour.
I am happy to see this happening but at the same time a little worried. My worries are does this bring about a relief for the consumers on Saba and Statia in terms of better and faster internet service? Does this bring about a reducation on the cost of Internet for us all? Because, lets face it Saba is amongst the most expensive in the world in terms of Internet. With this new agreement does this mean that Smitcom will be charging Satel N.V. extra for this service or Satel N.V. will be having to pay RCN for this service? It is nice to sign these deals but the consumers now need clarity in terms of the fine prints. What is also very noticeable is that this new system is suppose to benefit Saba and Statia and the least that could have been done was to also invite a representative of both islands to witness this so call historic signing. Both Satel N.V. and EUTEL N.V. in my opinion should have been present together with their Commissioners of Telecommunication. The question with this all is what is in it for the people of Saba and Statia? Do we now get more and better service via the Internet. Someone needs to explain because my hope is that now with this Smitcom N.V. don’t go over to charge both Saba and Statia more for their services otherwise this whole project makes no sense at all.
I have the same questions as Mr. Levenstone. Behind every document signed, lies a contract, that goes well into the future. Is the Island coundil aware of what the contract intails in relation to future planning? As the may be have deal with it all in the long run.
Hope it means a progress (that can be seen and experieced) for Saba and it people.