Communications in Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

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Below is a summary of media communications in Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

Saint Helena[edit]


Radio St Helena, which started operations on Christmas Day 1967, provided a local radio service that had a range of about 100 km from the island, and also broadcast internationally on Shortwave Radio (11092.5 kHz) on one day a year. The station presented news, features and music in collaboration with its sister newspaper, the St Helena Herald. It closed on 25 December 2012 to make way for a new three-channel FM service, also funded by St. Helena Government and run by the South Atlantic Media Services (formerly St. Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation).[1]

Saint FM[2] provided a local radio service for the island which was also available on internet radio[3] and relayed in Ascension Island. The station was not government funded. It was launched in January 2005 and closed on 21 December 2012. It broadcast news, features and music in collaboration with its sister newspaper, the St Helena Independent (which continues).

Saint FM Community Radio took over the radio channels vacated by Saint FM and launched on 10 March 2013. The station is legally a company registered by guarantee and is owned by its members. Anyone who wishes to can become a member.

As of 1997, there were 3,000 radios in the area.


Sure South Atlantic Ltd offers television for the island via 15 digital encrypted DVB-T2 channels, which rebroadcast a compilation of British programmes provided by South African MultiChoice, at a monthly subscription rate of £33.[4] In late 2011 a digital broadcasting network using the DVB-T2 standard was installed on the island,[5] which has since replaced the old analogue broadcasting of 3 encrypted TV channels.[6][7] All 15 digital TV channels are encrypted and subscription costs amount to £33 per month (excl. SHG Service Tax),[8] more than one tenth of an average worker's salary.[9] The feed signal is received by a satellite dish at Bryant's Beacon from Intelsat 7 in the Ku band.[10] Two separate local TV channels will be allocated to carry local content.[7] As of 1997, there were 2,000 television sets in the territory.


Sure South Atlantic Ltd (formerly Cable & Wireless South Atlantic Ltd) provide the telecommunications service in the territory through a digital copper-based telephone network including ADSL-broadband service. In August 2011 the first fiber-optic link has been installed on the island, which connects the television receive antennas at Bryant's Beacon to the Cable & Wireless Technical Centre in the Briars. Plans are now being made for further fibre optic cable installations.[11]

A satellite ground station with a 7.6 metre satellite dish installed in 1989[12] at The Briars is the only international connection providing satellite links through Intelsat 707 to Ascension island and the United Kingdom.[13] Since all international telephone and internet communications are relying on this single satellite link both Internet and telephone service are subject to sun outages.

Telephone service[edit]

As of 2009 there were 2,900 main telephone lines in use on St Helena. Since 2006 it shares its international calling code +290 with Tristan da Cunha. Since October 2013 telephone numbers are 5 digits long. Numbers start with 1-9, with 8xxxx being reserved for Tristan da Cunha numbers and 22xxx for Jamestown.[14]

Mobile service[edit]

Following an agreement signed between the St Helena Government and Cable & Wireless South Atlantic (now Sure South Atlantic Ltd) in July 2012 a GSM mobile phone network was set to be rolled out on St Helena by 2014.[15] In April 2014 installation of an islandwide cellular network had started which was due for launch before end of the year.[16] However, after the contracted network equipment supplier, Altobridge, went into receivership on 30 May 2014, Sure South Atlantic Ltd had to restart the procurement process, postponing the launch date to June 2015.[17] Instead of deploying the aging GSM standard, as originally planned, the company than considered immediately rolling out a cellular network based on the more advanced LTE standard.[18]

In September 2015, Sure South Atlantic Ltd finally launched St Helena's first cellular network using the MCC/MNC tuple 658-01.[19][20] It is based on network equipment from Canadian Star Solutions International Inc. providing GSM-900 and LTE band 3 (1800 MHz) and Primal Technologies providing Advance Pay/Prepaid, SMSC, Voicemail, USSD, IVR, CTS service.[21][22] The network will cover 95% of the population and services will include voice calls, text messaging, mobile data as well as inbound and outbound roaming.[15]


Until 2012, St Helena's internet link via Intelsat 707 delivered by Cable & Wireless International UK provided a total bandwidth of 10/3.6 Mbit/s.[13] In July 2012 Cable & Wireless South Atlantic announced bandwidth to be doubled to 20 Mbit/s,[15] followed by a further doubling in December 2013 which results in a bandwidth for the entire population of approximately 40 Mbit/s download and 14.4 Mbit/s upload respectively.[23]

ADSL-broadband service is provided with maximum speeds of up to 1536 kbit/s downstream and 512 kbit/s upstream offered on contract levels from lite £16 per month to gold at £190 per month.[24] There are few public Wi-Fi hotspots in Jamestown, which are also operated by Sure South Atlantic Ltd.[25]

As of 2009, the territory had 900 internet users; there were 6,873 internet hosts as of 2010, and one ISP.

Submarine cable link[edit]

Since 2012 a campaign called Move This Cable - Connect St Helena! has been lobbying for a branch of the planned South Atlantic Express submarine communications cable to land on St Helena in order to provide high-speed Internet access and so to foster the island's socio-economic development.[26][27][28]

On 27 October 2017 the St Helena Government announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with South Atlantic Express (SAEx) to provide a branching spur to St Helena from the South Atlantic Express submarine cable between South Africa and South America, with the aim of the cable being ready for service in 2020.[29]

Satellite earth station[edit]

In February 2018 St Helena Government launched the project to attract operators of satellite ground stations to the island who would lease capacity on the planned submarine cable for backhauling and so contribute to the operational costs of the latter.[30] Satellite ground stations on St Helena could support communications with satellites in low earth orbit, including those in polar, equatorial and inclined orbit and with high-throughput satellites in medium earth as well as Geostationary orbit.[31]



Since 2012 Ascension has a cellular network based on the GSM standard which covers Georgetown, Wideawake Airfield, Travellers Hill and Two Boats Village. However services are not marketed locally but instead only offered to visitors using their home operators' international roaming service.[32][33]

Meteorological stations[edit]

South Africa maintains a manned meteorological station on Gough Island; on Saint Helena island, there is an automatic weather station at Longwood and another station at Broad Bottom. Ascension Island has four meteorological stations: in the Airhead, Georgetown, Travellers and Residency.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Simon Pipe (14 June 2012). "Media saga takes new twist as Mike plans more radio stations". St. Helena Online. Archived from the original on 20 November 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Saint FM Homepage". Saint FM. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Saint FM Live Stream". Saint FM. Archived from the original on 7 June 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  4. ^ Sure South Atlantic Ltd., Digital Television Service - General Terms and Conditions, No. 7
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), The St Helena Independent Volume VI, Issue 49, Friday 21 October 2011, p. 3
  6. ^ Hensil O'Bey (23 March 2012). "Digital Terrestrial Television Project update" (PDF). press release. Cable & Wireless South Atlantic Ltd. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  7. ^ a b Sharon Henry (29 March 2012). "15 Channel Digital TV for St Helena" (PDF). news article. The St Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation Ltd. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 May 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  8. ^ Hensil O'Bey (24 April 2012). "Digital Terrestrial Television Project Update". press release. Cable & Wireless South Atlantic Ltd. Archived from the original on 27 April 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  9. ^ Simon Hancock (19 January 2010). "Life on one of the world's most remote islands". news article. BBS News. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 30 June 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2010. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Cable & Wireless SA Ltd First Fibre Network for St Helena"[permanent dead link] St Helena Herald, Volume XI no. 15, 5 August 2011, p. 27
  12. ^ "Cable & Wireless Carries out Major Mechanical Maintenance" Archived 10 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine The St Helena Independent Volume 1, Issue 37 Friday 21 July 2006, p. 8
  13. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 October 2004. Retrieved 2012-04-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)/
  14. ^ World Telephone Numbering Guide Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha
  15. ^ a b c St Helena Government (23 July 2012). "SHG and Cable & Wireless South Atlantic sign new deal". press release. St Helena Government. Archived from the original on 25 December 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  16. ^ Sharon Henry (24 April 2014). "They're finally here - Cellphones for Christmas" (PDF). The Sentinel. 3 (5). Jamestown: South Atlantic Media Services, Ltd. p. 1.
  17. ^ "No Sure thing: cellco forced to delay mobile launch after supplier folds". TeleGeography. PriMetrica, Inc. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  18. ^ von der Ropp, Christian (16 August 2014). "St Helena's first cellular network delayed, may now receive 3G or even 4G if submarine cable comes ashore". A Human Right. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  19. ^ August Graham (3 September 2015). "On The Grid - SAMS Gets First Official Mobile Call". South Atlantic Media Services Ltd. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  20. ^ "ITU Operational Bulletin No. 1078". ITU. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Batelco selects Star for GSM/LTE rollout". TeleGeography. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  22. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Sure South Atlantic Ltd. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  23. ^ Sure South Atlantic Ltd (9 January 2014). "Sure South Atlantic Ltd – Increased Internet bandwidth in St Helena" (PDF). The Sentinel. 2 (40). Jamestown: South Atlantic Media Services, Ltd. p. 16.
  24. ^
  25. ^ "WiFi". 30 June 2010. Archived from the original on 30 June 2010. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  26. ^ Ropp, Christian von der. "Connect St Helena!". Connect St Helena!. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  27. ^ Lee, Dave (3 January 2013). "Island community St Helena renews plea for internet cash from UK". BBC. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  28. ^ Geere, Duncan (22 February 2012). "Wiring up St Helena: the campaign to connect a remote Atlantic island". Condé Nast UK. Archived from the original on 25 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  29. ^ "SHG SIGNS MOU WITH SAEX TO DELIVER SUBMARINE CABLE PROJECT". St Helena. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  30. ^ "St Helena South Atlantic Earth Station Project". article. St Helena Government. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  31. ^ "St Helena South Atlantic Earth Station Project". website. St Helena Government. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  32. ^ Roaming Mobile Service
  33. ^ Cohen, Brian (15 January 2013). "FlyerTalk Members Report on Experience of Emergency Airplane Diversion to Ascension Island". Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  34. ^ Hash Trash - Hash No: 1363 - Ascension Island News

 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website