The Guyanese government has signed a deal for the repair and maintenance of its fibre-optic backbone network cost-free, Kaieteur News writes. The backbone network, which interconnects with Brazilian infrastructure at the border, is part of the state’s disastrous e-government project and, despite having cost the country an estimated USD40 million over the last four years, remains offline. In an effort to finally make use of the network, the government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a local contractor, Dax Engineering, under which Dax will be allocated a portion of the cable’s bandwidth in exchange for repairing and maintaining the cable for the next 25 years.
As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the e-government programme sought to provide government facilities along the Lindem-Lethem road and coastline with internet access. Started back in January 2011, in addition to the spur linking the capital to the Brazilian border, the project featured a fibre-optic network connecting the capital Georgetown to Molson Creek in the east and Anna Regina to the west, and to Linden and Lethem in the south, supported by a data centre and 54 Time Division Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) towers to provide last-mile access. The project has been an unmitigated disaster, however, running into a host of problems. Local contractors hired by the government for the deployment lacked the expertise and equipment for the rollout, resulting in prolonged delays. Where the cable was deployed, the installation was not completed to a satisfactory standard forcing the government to sack the local contractors, as well as an ostensibly ineffectual supervisory firm hired to oversee the rollout. Making matters worse, the installed sections of cable have proved vulnerable to accidental damage and vandalism from copper thieves.
A statement from the Office of the President on the MoU estimated the amount of work required to make the system operational would cost in the region of USD28 million, suggesting that as much as 20% of the infrastructure was damaged. Work has already begun and the repairs are expected to be completed in the next six months. Dax CEO, Faizal Mohamed, told the paper that several sections of the network extending to Brazil, currently strung on overhead poles, will be buried to minimise the threat of future damage. The official also added that the firm is in talks with local and international partners regarding the use of its portion of the cable’s bandwidth.