Digital Jersey have today published a paper entitled ‘Enabling Effective Data Connectivity’, which addresses the concerns of the digital sector regarding on and off-island data pricing and the cost and availability of broadband for business, including Gigabit connectivity in St Helier. The paper also considers potential areas for debate in terms of a longer-term strategy for the provision of connectivity services.
The paper is based on the premise that while data connectivity is only one of several challenges regarding the cost of doing business in Jersey, it is a key dependency for the digital sector. The paper concludes that currently the pricing of both on and off-island connectivity is a major factor impacting growth of digital businesses in Jersey and is a significant hurdle in attracting new business to the island, especially data intense businesses in the digital sector.
The paper also highlights that private circuit pricing, both on-island and connecting businesses off-island, are expensive compared to many competitive jurisdictions and viewed as a barrier to growth. While direct comparisons are difficult due to the variety and combination of services, data indicates that on-island private circuit costs in Jersey are 3x greater than those for example in Luxembourg, while off-island costs can be 5-10x greater.
Additionally, concern is noted that rollout of fibre to businesses in St Helier at part of the Gigabit project is not planned until 2015/16. It notes that while Digital Jersey supports Gigabit as a bold investment in the future of the island, rollout needs to be accelerated for business, where arguably it will have the greatest economic benefit.
Finally, the paper highlights that Jersey being is behind schedule, and behind other jurisdictions, for LTE (4G) rollout. Many competitive jurisdictions have now launched 4G services, whereas Jersey is still to license the new radio spectrum needed to increase data connectivity capacity.
Paul Masterton, Chairman of Digital Jersey, commented:
“Effective data connectivity is a critical dependency for the island’s objective of developing its digital sector. The issues identified need to be quickly addressed if Jersey’s ambitions for digital growth and a more diversified economy are to succeed.
While we are calling for urgent change, we are mindful that the telecoms industry is vitally important to the island and that Jersey Telecoms (JT) is an extremely valuable asset to Jersey, as a major economic contributor, employer and an important supporter of the island’s social programmes. We are delighted with our recent collaboration with JT and their recent announcement to deliver gigabit to a group of digital companies later this year, up to two years ahead of the planned schedule. We look forward to working collaboratively with JT and others in addressing the data connectivity challenges.
Longer term we need much greater coordination between Government, the Channel Island Competition Regulatory Authority (CICRA) and Digital Jersey, whereby Government determines the long term strategy for the island, CICRA regulates and enforces this strategy and Digital Jersey operates as the development agency.”
The full paper can be viewed here.