Bringing high-speed broadband to Martinique

Almost half a million people who live on the Caribbean island of Martinique had uneven access to broadband telecommunications links, but a programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has brought the technology to most parts of the island.

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The installation of the fibre optic cable has brought broadband access to more than 180 000 households. The installation of the fibre optic cable has brought broadband access to more than 180 000 households.

The improvement to the island’s telecommunications infrastructure was put into place through installing over 200 kilometres of fibre optic cable between the island’s telephone exchanges. Those parts of the island with sparser populations were connected to the new system through the installation of microwave radio links.

The EUR 35.5 million-investment means that, since 2009, 98.3 % of households now enjoy potential access to a broadband connection of at least 512 kilobytes per second and 96 % of the population are able to connect to a faster 2 megabyte per second connection.  This compares with the situation in 2004 when only 67 % of households were connected to a broadband link.

More than 180 000 households, who previously did not have any means of accessing a broadband connection, are now able to do so at attractive prices for the consumer.

The high-speed telecommunications links are a particular benefit for businesses on the island, many of whom rely on having access to reliable telecommunications for the increasing amount of e-commerce that takes place across the Internet. Businesses that need to send large volumes of data across the Internet have also become more competitive.

Economy expected to prosper from improved telecommunications infrastructure

The widespread availability of broadband in Martinique has not only been of benefit to businesses and households: hospitals, schools, higher education institutions and the public sector have also taken advantage of the island’s higher quality telecommunication links with the outside world. The greater broadband capacity has also benefited the roll-out of the latest generation of mobile telephone services and high-definition cable television.

The project takes advantage of a new subsea fibre-optic cable that was installed between the nearby island of Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico. The cable, known as the Global Caribbean Network, effectively connects the Antilles with the World Wide Web. An extension of the subsea cable to Martinique, known as the Middle Caribbean Network, became operational in 2009.

The president of Martinique’s regional council Serge Létchimy said that the investment had undoubtedly contributed to improving the quality of life for islanders and that the vastly improved potential for telework, e-administration and e-commerce would benefit Martinique’s economy.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Réseau Haut Débit Martiniquais” was estimated at around EUR 24 109 130, but finally amounted to EUR 35 557 193, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 7 000 000 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. The national contribution was EUR 1 000 000 for the period 2007-2013. The project is funded through the priority “Accessibility” of the Operational Programme for Martinique.

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