High-tech phone cable launched
Larger bandwidth is a boon to information technology

By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
January 31, 2001

Negotiations between the governments of Guyana and Suriname over the CGX oil rig issue could now be conducted without either side leaving home, following the launching of the US$6 million Americas 11 fibre-optic cable yesterday. With the use of state-of-the-art equipment facilitating direct tele-conferencing, the presidents of Guyana and Suriname, Bharrat Jagdeo and Ronald Venetiaan respectively spoke to each other and audiences in the two countries yesterday.

President Jagdeo, in his address to his local and Surinamese audience, stated that the telecommunication link would help to promote greater communication between the two nations.

The link, he further stated, would aid in the facilitation of increased trade, and the initiation of joint projects of importance to the development of the two states.

The Guyanese leader reiterated the need for the two countries to work jointly to promote their well-being especially as both had made approaches to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for funding to invest in human resources.

Referring to their last face-to-face encounter in Brasilia, Brazil in September 2000, Jagdeo restated his wish to have early discussions with his Surinamese counterpart on the return of the CGX oil rig which was evicted from Guyana's waters by Surinamese gunboats last year.

Prior to Jagdeo's address, the Surinamese head of state highlighted the importance of the project, which he said would see an improvement in relations between the countries.

And responding to Jagdeo's comments including an invitation for an early meeting, Venetiaan pointed to the advent of the tele-conferencing facility, which would make such meetings easier. He said it would also enhance communications in a number of areas, including education, health care and production.

Venetiaan congratulated GT&T and Telesur on the celebration of their tenth and twentieth anniversaries respectively.

Chief Executive Officer of GT&T, Sonita Jagan, said that the launching of the cable was the culmination of three years of planning and development of what was said to be the largest of its kind in the world. GT&T contributed US$6M to the cable project said to be worth US$362M.

After being excluded from the earlier Americas-1 cable which came on stream in 1994, and saw a number of territories in the Caribbean region connected, the Guianas--French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana--decided that they should be linked to the rest of the South American mainland, Jagan said.

Following initial discussions, it was decided that the main station would be sited in Cayenne, French Guiana with fibre-optic cables run on the riverbeds between that country and Suriname and on to Guyana facilitating the link-up. The cable link is expected to broaden the available bandwidth thus facilitating further development in relation to call centres, video conferencing, distance learning and opening up many information technology areas. It would also facilitate internet providers with extra bandwidth to increase their scope of operations.

"This is GT&T's gift to Guyana... reflecting its commitment to the country," Jagan said.

Director, Operational Affairs Telesur, Edmund Neus, stated that the cable had the capacity to accommodate some 600 telephone conversations at one time, with some 1,500 connections, making it four times better than the previous facility. Suriname contributed some US$5.5 million to the project.

The state-of-the-art equipment is expected to eliminate the hassles associated with the use of satellites and improve telecommunications service.

Other speakers at the launching included Specialist, International Affairs GT&T, Raymond Roopnauth, and General Manager Telesur, Iris M. Struiken-Wijdenbosch, who stated that the link would help in the integration, prosperity and well-being of the peoples of Guyana and Suriname.

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