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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 27, 2022
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FASTER, WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS ON THE WAY

With an eye toward riding the ever-surging wave of Internet growth, Atlantic Tele-Network has acquired Antilles Wireless Cable TV.
While the deal shows that St. Thomas-based ATN sees big things in the territory’s future as far as cyberspace goes, the acquisition will also eventually improve service in the aftermath of hurricanes. Cornelius Prior, ATN chairman and CEO, said that adding the wireless cable system to ATN will help the company expand its telecommunications holdings in the region -– particularly Internet service.
"Antilles Wireless TV operations and its MMDS and LMDS licenses for the U.S. Virgin Islands are a natural fit with the Internet access business of VIAccess, which we recently acquired and are operating through our subsidiary, Wireless World LLC," Prior said.
Before wireless Internet access is unveiled on a large scale in the territory, Gordon Ackley, Wireless World CEO, said the outdated 15-channel analog TV system at Antilles Wireless will be replaced with new digital technology.
"We didn’t buy it to leave it 15 analog channels," Ackley said. "The new system also has the capacity to deliver 90 mpeg TV channels and high-speed Internet and telephone service. The Internet broadband service will be 200 times faster than telephone lines."
Transmitters on radio towers on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John will send signals to a small antenna and receiver box in each customer's home. Computers, TV sets and telephones will plug into the unit, about the size of a traditional cable box.
On St. Thomas, the service will be moved along ATN’s fiber-optic cable atop Crown Mountain to AT&T’s America I cable. Until recently, that was the only route for calls heading out of the territory, even from St. Croix. The America I cable terminates in Vero Beach, Fla.
On St. Croix, which will be "pure digital" before St. Thomas-St. John, signals will be sent off island on AT&T’s America II cable that ATN recently purchased bandwidth on. That cable terminates in Hollywood, Fla.
The significance of the cables, Ackley said, is twofold. First, it allows ATN to circumvent V.I. Telephone Corp. for service; and second, St. Croix won’t have to depend on its sister island to get calls and information out if St. Thomas is shut down, as was the case after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. And if St. Thomas is out of commission due to a storm, information can still be sent across to St. Croix to move it off island.
"For the first time in the Virgin Islands, the customer will have a choice. We’ll have complete control over our destiny," Ackley said. "We won’t be at Vitelco’s mercy. And St. Croix has always had to go through St. Thomas to get out of the territory. Now there will be two ways."
Along with the redundancy will also come more capacity, Ackley said. With his projections for Internet growth in the territory in the next three to four years, that will be important. He said the territory has "a lot of catching up to do" to reach the nationwide level of Internet access — about 50 percent. Currently, he said, about 15 percent of the territory is wired.
With the acquisition of Antilles Wireless Cable and other modifications, Ackley said, the new system will give VIAccess alone a build-out capacity of 35,000 subscribers.
"In 1996 and 1997, the total Internet population in the territory was 1,000," he said. Now, VIAccess alone is "pushing close to 10,000 subscribers, Cobex has about 2,500 and AT&T has about 3,500."
"If I have 35,000 and PowerNet moves up to 20,000, that’s where we should be," he said. "But trying to predict the growth of the Internet, well, good luck."
Antilles Wireless was principally owned by Prior. For the acquisition, ATN issued 242,424 shares of ATN common stock and paid $1.5 million. ATN also owns the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Co.; 80 percent interest in Digicom S.A., which provides dispatch radio, wireless data network and paging services in Haiti; and 30 percent of Bermuda Digital Communication Ltd., which operates under the name CellularOne.

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With an eye toward riding the ever-surging wave of Internet growth, Atlantic Tele-Network has acquired Antilles Wireless Cable TV.
While the deal shows that St. Thomas-based ATN sees big things in the territory’s future as far as cyberspace goes, the acquisition will also eventually improve service in the aftermath of hurricanes. Cornelius Prior, ATN chairman and CEO, said that adding the wireless cable system to ATN will help the company expand its telecommunications holdings in the region -– particularly Internet service.
"Antilles Wireless TV operations and its MMDS and LMDS licenses for the U.S. Virgin Islands are a natural fit with the Internet access business of VIAccess, which we recently acquired and are operating through our subsidiary, Wireless World LLC," Prior said.
Before wireless Internet access is unveiled on a large scale in the territory, Gordon Ackley, Wireless World CEO, said the outdated 15-channel analog TV system at Antilles Wireless will be replaced with new digital technology.
"We didn’t buy it to leave it 15 analog channels," Ackley said. "The new system also has the capacity to deliver 90 mpeg TV channels and high-speed Internet and telephone service. The Internet broadband service will be 200 times faster than telephone lines."
Transmitters on radio towers on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John will send signals to a small antenna and receiver box in each customer's home. Computers, TV sets and telephones will plug into the unit, about the size of a traditional cable box.
On St. Thomas, the service will be moved along ATN’s fiber-optic cable atop Crown Mountain to AT&T’s America I cable. Until recently, that was the only route for calls heading out of the territory, even from St. Croix. The America I cable terminates in Vero Beach, Fla.
On St. Croix, which will be "pure digital" before St. Thomas-St. John, signals will be sent off island on AT&T’s America II cable that ATN recently purchased bandwidth on. That cable terminates in Hollywood, Fla.
The significance of the cables, Ackley said, is twofold. First, it allows ATN to circumvent V.I. Telephone Corp. for service; and second, St. Croix won’t have to depend on its sister island to get calls and information out if St. Thomas is shut down, as was the case after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. And if St. Thomas is out of commission due to a storm, information can still be sent across to St. Croix to move it off island.
"For the first time in the Virgin Islands, the customer will have a choice. We’ll have complete control over our destiny," Ackley said. "We won’t be at Vitelco’s mercy. And St. Croix has always had to go through St. Thomas to get out of the territory. Now there will be two ways."
Along with the redundancy will also come more capacity, Ackley said. With his projections for Internet growth in the territory in the next three to four years, that will be important. He said the territory has "a lot of catching up to do" to reach the nationwide level of Internet access -- about 50 percent. Currently, he said, about 15 percent of the territory is wired.
With the acquisition of Antilles Wireless Cable and other modifications, Ackley said, the new system will give VIAccess alone a build-out capacity of 35,000 subscribers.
"In 1996 and 1997, the total Internet population in the territory was 1,000," he said. Now, VIAccess alone is "pushing close to 10,000 subscribers, Cobex has about 2,500 and AT&T has about 3,500."
"If I have 35,000 and PowerNet moves up to 20,000, that’s where we should be," he said. "But trying to predict the growth of the Internet, well, good luck."
Antilles Wireless was principally owned by Prior. For the acquisition, ATN issued 242,424 shares of ATN common stock and paid $1.5 million. ATN also owns the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Co.; 80 percent interest in Digicom S.A., which provides dispatch radio, wireless data network and paging services in Haiti; and 30 percent of Bermuda Digital Communication Ltd., which operates under the name CellularOne.