According to the Virgin Islands Daily News, the St Thomas Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Committee has approved an extension for AT&T Virgin Islands’ submarine cable links to the Virgin Islands (US). The US-based telecoms giant first received a permit from CZM in 1991 for the installation of seven underwater fibre-optic cables in Estate Peterborg, St Thomas. However, the initial permit expired in 2011, and a new application was duly submitted. According to the press report, the extension did not seek any new work, only continued occupancy of the cables; the request was unanimously approved.
TeleGeography notes that AT&T has fallen foul of lawmakers in the Virgin Islands (US) a number of times in the last two decades, most notably in March 1999 when the telco was fined an unprecedented USD23.37 million by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) for 2,494 alleged violations of the CZM Act. At the time AT&T’s legal department responded: ‘Because the individual violations that make up this total are not specified, AT&T cannot respond precisely to these charges. The vast majority of the alleged violations, however, appear to relate to the cable conduit drilling that occurred during the construction of the St Croix cable landing station in 1996’. AT&T courted controversy once more in August 2000 when the DPNR ordered the operator to dismantle a breakwater that it had built illegally in Magens Bay. The stone breakwater, measuring 100 feet by 35 feet, was constructed without permission, and earned the telco a USD100,000 fine. The offending structure was discovered during a routine inspection by the army.