The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network governing board voted Wednesday to award trenching contracts for four segments of the broadband network infrastructure, two segments on St. Thomas and two on St. Croix.
Trenching for fiber optic cable will be worked on simultaneously in hopes that the network will be completed on time.
The trenching projects amount to more than $13 million of work for two local construction companies. Island Roads Corporation will complete both segments on St. Thomas and GEC LLC will complete both segments on St. Croix.
“It’s a critical aspect and probably the biggest dollar amount under the broadband project,” said viNGN Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Kupfer.
Kupfer shared his excitement that the projects will bring money into the territory and make room for additional employment. When the broadband network is complete, it will allow community anchor institutions to connect to the network and Internet service providers to offer cheaper services to customers.
The network also plans to put out bids in the next month for $10 million in construction services and $4 million worth of materials. Board member Keith O’Neale said these projects will be a great stimulus for the territory’s economy.
Board members agreed, in order for viNGN to save money, to reduce directors’ compensation for their services to the network. Although board members are entitled up to $1000, they currently receive $750. The resolution passed Wednesday reduces compensation to $500 for meetings attended in person.
The board also approved a contract for member Peter Schultz to act as an interface with Atlantic Engineering Group for technical consulting related to the fiber optic network. Schultz’s compensation is capped at $50,000 for one year working directly with Kupfer.
Gov. John deJongh Jr. said Schultz will give technical advice during the construction and implementation phases. He said viNGN will benefit from receiving Schultz’s expert advice at a cost that allows the network to continue saving.