The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network is more than halfway done digging up the territory’s roads to install fiber optic cable for high-speed broadband, its president and CEO Lawrence Kupfer told the viNGN executive board at its regular meeting Thursday.
The viNGN is a government program to build a high-speed, fiber-optic "middle mile" network in the territory. The wholly public corporation has been funded primarily from grants by the National Telecommunications Information Administration as part of a federal program to improve the broadband capacity in the territories.
Under the terms of the federal grants paying for these connections, as well as a territory-wide fiber optic network, all the work must be completed by July.
Trenching began in November, with crews from contractors GEC on St. Croix and Island Roads Corp. on St. Thomas laying the groundwork for installing the actual hardware.
According to a statement from viNGN, Kupfer told the board Thursday that “fiber optic network trenching is now 51 percent complete and on schedule. Our contractors on St. Thomas and St. Croix are working systematically and achieving great results."
Kupfer also told the board that All Rounder Systems and Trans-Tel Central Inc. had started installing inner duct in existing WAPA conduits on St. Croix.
“This was another significant step in the construction of our fiber optic network here in the territory," Kupfer said.
All Rounder Systems and Trans-Tel Central had held job fairs in partnership with the V.I. Department of Labor on both St. Croix and St. Thomas, according to Kupfer. These job fairs attracted 146 residents interested in helping to construct the viNGN network. (See related links below)
In other business Thursday, the viNGN board awarded a material supply contract to All Rounder Systems, for safety supplies, and renewed an aerial fiber optic cable installation contract for St. Croix to All Rounder Systems and Trans-Tel Central. This contract had previously been awarded to Innovative, according to viNGN. Kupfer reported the total value of construction contracts awarded to date is $31.8 million and that $2.7 million remains to be awarded.