Fibre optic cable link between Guyana, Suriname

by Wendella Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
January 22, 2000

A FIBRE optic cable link has been established between Guyana and Suriname across the border Corentyne River to improve telecommunications with other countries.

The step is part of the `Americas 2' programme aimed at connecting countries in North and South America by fibre optic cables from Florida through to Brazil.

In the process, a number of shareholder countries will also be connected, officials said at the linking across the river Thursday.

The Guiana interconnection involving Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana is to be tested next month and traffic is expected to flow in May.

The Guyana-Suriname link was done by engineers and technicians from TELESUR, the telecommunications company of Suriname, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) and United Caribbean Contractors (UCC) of Suriname.

It entailed laying and connecting two lengths of cables measuring 90 kilometres from Scotsburg and Balram's Koker in Springlands, Guyana to Alberina in Suriname.

The cables joined in the centre of the Corentyne River are initially on the river bed.

They will be buried some three metres from the river surface by divers from a Suriname diving company within another week, Mr Theodore Linscheer, TELESUR Project Director explained to reporters Thursday.

On either side of the river the cable is buried about three-and-a-half metres beneath the earth, then stretched in snake-like fashion across the river to lend for any eventual tension, according to officials.

Witnessing the "splicing and jointing" of the final cable on the sea defence embankment near Balram's Koker Thursday were Linscheer, several GT&T officials including General Manager (International), Mr Raymond Roopnauth; Mr Lennox Lee, Director, Outside Plant; Mr James Kendall, Regional Manager; Mr Goshnell Fields, Manager Switching and Mr Lennox Cornette, Public Relations Officer and Mr Rudy De Vente, Manager of UCC.

Roopnauth said the link will enable Guyana and Suriname to interconnect traffic between South and North American countries.


Noting this is the first time the two countries are physically connected, he said the cable link was a "critical element of the operations".

The underwater cable which is about five times the size of that used on land, is specially armoured to withstand attack from sea creatures and corrosion.

The eventual burying of the cable is to prevent damage from vessels, officials said.

The cable has a life span of more than 25 years and Guyana and Suriname have entered a maintenance agreement for the shared cost of running the link.

Roopnauth said the Guyana aspect of the operations which involved the acquisition of the cables is estimated to cost about US$5.5M.

Guyana primarily uses the INTELSAT satellite service out of Guyana for international links to serve all GT&T's connections and radio, up to now, for service between Guyana and Suriname, he said.

He noted that the Tropo station link in Thomas Lands, Georgetown serving Guyana and Trinidad is obsolete and a similar link to Suriname is on the verge of being defunct.

In the circumstances, the fibre link is modern technology which contains a "band width capacity" to meet present communication demands, Roopnauth explained.

"Like the introduction of the Internet service, if current technology that creates the capacity for added information is not introduced, Guyana will be sadly caught lagging behind," he said.

The fibre optic cable link, he added, is part of GT&T's expansion plan to keep Guyana in step with the anticipated demands on the communications service.

Linscheer noted that prior to Thursday's successful exercise, there was intensive planning and contact between GT&T officials and TELESUR for more than a year.

He said there was also a tough battle between the two sides and other interests of the shareholders of the cable and expressed appreciation for the excellent cooperation from GT&T.

In addition, feasibility studies were conducted where GT&T and TELESUR officials and personnel from the Suriname and Guyana maritime departments, Police, Customs and the Guyana Sugar Corporation were involved at one stage or another, Linscheer said.


He said one aspect on which much emphasis was paid was in deciding at which points to cross on either side of the river.

The TELESUR official said the maritime authority of Suriname which is quite knowledgeable about the river bed, its structure and the wind, stream, weather and current conditions, played an integral part in the project.

Laying of the cable began last Saturday, with an initial plan to first dig then place the link by hand.

But Linscheer said the exercise posed problems at the Scotsburg site and they encountered difficulties taking the excavator to the shoreline.

At the second location though, a new plan was implemented with a trench dug and the cable buried.

He lauded the decision by Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana for interconnections rather than opting to have independent connections to the Florida cable.

De Vente of the Suriname-based UCC said the "splicing and jointing" was done by two technicians specially recruited by his firm from Holland.

DeVente said earlier weather conditions were not conducive to the operation as some of his employees were seasick.

Some 50 persons were engaged for the operation, among them Mr Frederick Monplasir, Senior Engineer, Mr Ronald Greenidge, Network Technician, Mr Peter James and Mr Dexter Marshall, Supervisors, who spearheaded the GT&T team.

Others were Mr William Busropan, Head of Planning, TELESUR; Mr Richardo Geerings, Cable Protects Expert; Mr Ro Foe A Man, TELSESUR Cable Maintenance; Mr Charles Djono, Cable Splicer; Mr Frans Kamit and Mr Roy Gajadhar, Cable Planners; Mr Hendrik Sawirjpo, Project Supervisor and Mr Remoy Verstoep, Project Manager of UCC.

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