Get ready for “very” high-speed access in St Barts, says Minister

Minister of Overseas France Annick Girardin. Photo: Ministère des Affaires Etrangères
Minister of Overseas France Annick Girardin. Photo: Ministère des Affaires Etrangères

While the French government laid out yesterday its very ambitious climate plan, which includes the end of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040, the administration also announced on Thursday, July 6, a new initiative for the overseas territories, which makes available state funding to broadband operators in St Martin, St Barthelemy, St Pierre and Miquelon, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte and French Guiana.

The “Territorial Digital Continuity for Overseas” (“Continuite territoriale numerique” or CTN) plan will be operational from end of July 2017 in order to “neutralise the additional costs associated with data transport” and “improve the quality of the service of internet users of overseas,” said Minister of Overseas France Annick Girardin.

In a statement jointly signed with Louis Gallois, Commissioner-General for Investment, a plan for a total of €50 million, of which €35 million has been committed in the 2017 budget, should allow the overseas departments and territories to benefit from “a shock capacity that prepares them for the access to the very high speed”.

The initiative aims to ensure digital territorial continuity by “easing the bottlenecks in the flow of traffic to and from these overseas markets”. Operators will be able to be “subsidised at 50 percent of their purchase amount realized in 2017”, then 40 percent in 2018, and if the system is “deemed effective” until 2021 with decreasing subsidies from year to year, although each operator will have to “prove” that it allocates a minimum capacity per subscriber whose threshold increases every year.

The Minister added that she hoped this will be an opportunity to “rethink the issue of subscription rates, the sometimes excessively high cost to overseas consumers in terms of their income, which contributes to the digital divide between the territories of the Republic”.