TelEm Group-owned international carrier SMITCOMS and the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN, National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands), have confirmed the signing of a memorandum of agreement relating to the landing of the planned Saba, Statia Cable System (SSCS), which will bring extra capacity to the islands of Sint Eustatius and Saba. Sint Maarten’s minister of tourism, economic affairs, transport and telecommunications, Ted Richardson, commented: ‘The issue of the subsea SSCS telecommunications cable has been resolved after lingering for nearly three years. After reviewing what had transpired, I decided to look for a win-win situation for all parties concerned, and this is the result of it’.
Progress relating to the SSCS has been slow in recent years, and in March 2012 the RCN was thwarted in its attempt to bypass the landing station owned by Sint Maarten-based SMITCOMS, in favour of one owned by Curacao-based UTS, exacerbating tensions between the former Netherlands Antilles nations. 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.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database the TelEm Group wholly owns its own international submarine cable, the Sint Maarten Puerto Rico Network One (SMPR-1). The 374km cable links the country to Isla Verde in Puerto Rico, and facilitates connectivity between various points of presence (PoP) in Miami, Puerto Rico and Curacao. The cable was lit in December 2004.