4G is coming to Gibraltar. (Photo: Getty)
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Cabling: what’s under the surface

Nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population are now online – including the majority of those in Europe, Asia and North America.  Between 2000 and 2014, the percentage of Gibraltarians on the internet grew from 7 to 70 per cent. So after 15 years of rapid growth, what’s likely to happen next in a region now so reliant on infrastructure for e-gaming? GibTelecom’s Dwayne Lara explains.

Over the past couple of hundred years, the world has moved from the telegraph and telephone, to broadcast, satellites, the mobile and the internet. Gibraltar, and by association, Gibtelecom through its various incarnations starting with the Eastern Telegraph Company back in the 19th century, has not been immune to these changes. Situated between Europe and Africa, and its strategic location at the entrance to the Mediterranean, has meant this tiny six square kilometres territory often being at the forefront of changing technologies. In fact, the first submarine telegraph cable directly linking Great Britain and Australia landed in Gibraltar in 1870.

Moving to the 21st century, Gibraltar and Gibtelecom continue to punch above their respective weights. As the leading provider of telecommunications services on the Rock, Gibtelecom is one of the founding shareholders of the Europe India Gateway (EIG) consortium, which operates a new 15,000Km high bandwidth state state-of-the-art fibre optic submarine cable from London to Mumbai, India. The EIG system spans three continents and has thirteen landing points, including Gibraltar, and links with other worldwide cable systems.

Gibtelecom has helped in facilitating Gibraltar becoming a leading centre for some of the most prestigious e-gaming companies in the world for whom first class communications is critical. Ensuring reliable connectivity and international route diversity is paramount to Gibraltar continuing to be a location of choice for business for the years to come.

Gaming companies coming to the Rock find it operates a state-of-art hosting facilities well above sea level. The centres employ the latest industry standard technologies and apply PCI accredited data security procedures, as well as having 24/7 on-site monitoring. In effect, the Company provides industry solutions that encompass all the necessary communications, computer hosting and value-added services the ecommerce community require.

The roll-out of fibre broadband products, making up to 100Mbps download speeds available to most premises in Gibraltar by 2015, is a crucial development in making high-speed internet access available to customers. With global internet traffic set to triple in the next five years, the speed and reliability delivered by fibre broadband will allow the local community to fully embrace their digital experience. Fibre to the Node (FTTN) technology opens up a whole new world of online possibilities. It allows Gibtelecom to meet customers’ bandwidth demands, delivering faster speeds at lower prices in Gibraltar. This development should also put Gibraltar at the forefront of Europe when it comes to average internet access speeds, ahead of the European Union “Digital Agenda” objectives for broadband speeds and coverage and should facilitate

The commitment to investment in new technologies and infrastructure will continue with the introduction of 4G services. Stemming from the proliferation of mobile and connected devices in society, 2015 will see a Company-wide shift in focus from fixed to mobile broadband development. Gibtelecom will be committing a substantial financial capital investment in 4G (LTE) mobile services that will support access speeds of up to 150Mbps.

The world is becoming a more connected place, and the next years promise to be challenging in terms of meeting this insatiable demand for higher bandwidth. Over the last few years, the Company has taken important strides to develop its infrastructure and meet such challenges. It has consolidated its position as a burgeoning global carrier and improved the service and product offerings to customers locally. It can offer services akin to those offered by large multinationals operating in exponentially bigger markets. Gibraltar is a unique place and so is Gibtelecom and that provides an opportunity, because if we do the right things and carefully, we can build a bigger international business and contribute more to Gibraltar on the way.

 

 

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Gibraltar and Europe: caught in the slipstream?

The British papers are full of who has the lead in the European in or out campaigns – Guy Clapperton considers the fallout for the smaller territories

Let’s start by acknowledging that there is no clear pattern emerging in the Europe debate, as long as we understand “Europe debate” to mean whether the UK should stay in or leave the European Union. This week alone we’ve seen Boris Johnson “warning Obama off” (as the BBC put it) getting involved in the debated, the same London Mayor and MP having a radio spat with Chuka Umunna involving telling each other to man up and various insults traded as either side accuses the other of scaremongering or making it up as they go along.

Divining who’s going to win is more difficult. The Daily Telegraph reports that “out” has it by a tiny margin but, crucially, the anti-Europe vote is likely to be more motivated so will actually show up on the day, expanding the margin by which it will win. Meanwhile the Times’ daily Red Box email points to Elections Etc. whose research suggests a 58% “remain” vote but with a plus or minus 14% error margin; so somewhere between 44% and 72% will go for staying in the EU. This, readers will note, tells us precisely nothing.

So the outcome, even if there weren’t 100 days in which Presidents and world leaders will offer counsel, claims and counterclaims will be made and the “leave” campaign will eventually decide who the official “leave” group actually is (there are two factions at the moment, doing the best impression of the Monty Python Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea that they can manage), we wouldn’t want to call a snap referendum even if it were to be called this afternoon.

What’s clear is that the outcome will ripple beyond the British mainland’s shores, and the ramifications of an “out” vote are already being felt on Gibraltar. Anyone doubting this should check today’s Times (subscription required), in which the Gibraltarian Chief Minister Fabian Picardo highlights recent Spanish statements about what would happen in the event of a Brexit.

Spain actually caused a few eyebrows to raise and some other people to panic just a little with its recent statements. Essentially the country’s foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, suggested that there would be conversations on the sovereignty of Gibraltar the “day after” an announcement of a British exit, according to the Daily Mail and other reports. He also said (much, much further down the report) that he didn’t want Britain to leave: “God forbid” is the phrase he uses.

He raised the idea of joint sovereignty once again more recently, reports the Gibraltar Chronicle, this time suggesting that if Britain leaves Europe then Gib could do what it nearly did (he says) in 2002 and start transitioning towards Spain. This is an interesting definition of “nearly” when 98.48% of the electorate actually voted not to do so, but remaining British when this might exclude the Rock from Europe would inevitably raise different issues if not a different final outcome.

Outside Gibraltarian interests the effect could be more severe than that. SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made no secret of her wish to make a fresh case for Scottish independence. The once-in-a-generation referendum on this was lost in 2014 but should Britain exit Europe with a majority of Scots clearly demonstrating that they want to stay in, the case becomes stronger (although the collapse of the oil price would blow the original blueprint out of the water).

So we could end up with Scotland as well as Gibraltar wanting to remain in Europe while Britain made its exit. Whether this would be legally possible if both stayed tied to Britain is untested as yet – and with Spain eager to enter talks the day after an exit is agreed but the Gibraltarians implacably opposed to becoming Spanish, the way forward would not be clear.

Guy Clapperton is the freelance journalist who edits the New Statesman’s Gibraltar hub. You can also find him in the Guardian, Computer Business Review and Professional Outsourcing which he edits.