April 1, 2018
We are disappointed to announce that our connection to the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN) was suspended this afternoon as a result of a breakdown in contract negotiations relating to our decision to operate as a not-for-profit Community Service Provider.
viNGN is the publicly owned and operated provider of the submarine cables and upstream Internet connectivity that connects St John and our sister islands to the world. Funded primarily by federal grants, viNGN has done an excellent job of fulfilling their mission of bringing world class open access, high speed fiber optic connectivity to the US Virgin Islands.
We have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with viNGN since our inception as a very small group of volunteers working to restore connectivity to St John. viNGN and LCCN are both mission driven organizations working to connect our community with the world.
Our partnership has provided a model in post-disaster communications that has been noticed well beyond the Virgin Islands and especially to those working and funding disaster mitigation. As we transition to long-term recovery it is important to reflect on the great work that we have done together while we work to forge a sustainable way forward.
We have followed all guidance from viNGN and fulfilled all federal and territorial licensing and regulatory conditions to operate as an Internet Service Provider in the Virgin Islands.
Two weeks ago we were notified by viNGN that in order to continue our service we must re-incorporate as a for-profit company or purchase service from one of their ISP Partners existing prior to the storms. We were shocked and surprised at this new requirement and have come to the conclusion that meeting either condition would be to the detriment of our mission to provide a resilient and disaster ready community network for St. John. We’ve been working very hard to communicate this with our partners at viNGN since being notified of this new requirement.
Our network was been built and has been expanded since the days after Irma and Maria’s impact with the full support of viNGN specifically to provide service when existing viNGN ISP partners not based on St John were unable to. Our mission has not changed and remains to develop, build, and operate a wireless IP network that will provide critical communications in the wake of disaster. Our status as a non-profit is crucial to our ability to perform this mission. We remain ready to address any legal or regulatory concerns viNGN may have, but we will not compromise our ability to provide critical connectivity to the people of St. John in the wake of future storms. We are hopeful that viNGN will come to the table and work with us toward an agreement that is in the best interests of the public and recognize our status as a fully licensed and registered Internet Service Provider. Since our islands have a publicly funded submarine cable network chartered to provide open access on fair and equitable terms to all ISPs there aren’t many alternative choices for wholesale service.
We’re going to continue working to resolve this issue with viNGN and restore connectivity as soon as possible. If you’d like to reach out and share your appreciation for viNGN and the work they have made possible restoring connectivity to St John in partnership with LCCN we encourage you to. At the same time, please also voice your support for viNGN recognizing Love City Community Network as an Internet Service Provider so that we can purchase service on the same terms as other providers operating on our islands.