The Bureau of Telecommunications and Post of Sint Maarten (BTP-SXM) has released its first ever set of telecoms data relating to the Caribbean island nation. The watchdog, which was established as an independent regulatory authority on 10 October 2010, following the formal dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, has revealed that the country recorded a total of 67,124 mobile subscribers as at 31 December 2011, equivalent to a population penetration rate of 164.3%. Meanwhile, broadband subscribers numbered 10,966 at the same date, with Sint Maarten accounting for just 6,862 wireline customer accounts.
TeleGeography notes that telecoms companies licenced to operate on Sint Maarten include full-service telecoms provider Telem Group, pan-Caribbean mobile group UTS, US Virgin Islands-based broadband/cable TV firm Innovative Cable and internet service provider (ISP) Scarlet. Most recently, cableco MacTech was licensed to offer broadband services over its cable infrastructure on 27 February 2012.
Despite a series of referendums held in the early 1990s indicating that the islands that comprised the Netherlands Antilles were happy to remain a part of it, the arrangement was a fairly unhappy one, and between June 2000 and April 2005, each island held a new referendum on their future status. Of the five islands, Sint Maarten and Curacao voted for ‘status aparte’, Saba and Bonaire voted for closer ties to the Netherlands, and Sint Eustatius voted to stay within the Netherlands Antilles. On 12 October 2006 the Netherlands mainland government reached an agreement with Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba to make these islands special municipalities, while Curacao and Sint Maarten were granted autonomy on 3 November 2006. The Netherlands Antilles was officially dissolved on 10 October 2010, with Curacao and Sint Maarten becoming new constituent countries.