Montserrat gets UK broadband grant of nearly GBP5m

6 Jan 2017

The small Caribbean island of Montserrat, a British Overseas Territory, has won a GBP4.94 million (USD6.10 million) grant from the UK Department for International Development to support the rollout of superfast broadband, ISPreview reports. Under the plan – further supported by investment of around GBP51,000 from local ISPs and a grant of GBP150,000 from the European Development Fund – every property on Montserrat should be connectable via superfast broadband by the end of 2018, whilst the deployment of community Wi-Fi hotspots is also envisaged.

Montserrat was devastated by a series of volcanic eruptions from 1995 to 2010, leaving more than half of the island covered by lava and ash, including the former main town of Plymouth, whilst the population consequently fell from above 12,000 to roughly 5,000. The Government of Montserrat has been working to rebuild the island’s infrastructure around the new town of Little Bay. ISPreview adds that the Montserrat government’s regeneration plans include reconnecting the island to global submarine fibre-optic cable networks, as its former link to the Eastern Caribbean Fibre System (ECFS) was rendered unusable by the volcanic disaster, leaving it reliant on a 320Mbps microwave radio link to neighbouring Antigua.

A spokesperson from the Department for International Development said of the broadband funding move: ‘Following the devastating eruption in the UK overseas territory, we’ve met our legal obligations to Montserrat by investing in the vital infrastructure needed for the island to stand on its own two feet again.’