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Comtek Offers High-Speed Wireless Internet

Oct. 8, 2004 – A new Internet service provider has stepped into the often rough and tumble Virgin Islands' telecommunications ring, but the new kid in town is no stranger to the territory.
Communication Technologies, known to many through its recent marketing campaign as Comtek, began offering an array of wireless, high-speed services to Charlotte Amalie and surrounding areas on Oct. 1.
Holger Dietze, managing director for the Virginia-based company's Caribbean region, said Comtek is planning an "aggressive" expansion. "Within the next 90 days we'll expand the service area on St. Thomas and launch on St. Croix and St. John," he said.
According to its Web site, Comtek is offering four levels of service. The casual net-surfing individual or family can be up and running at speeds 10-15 times faster than dial-up for under $50 a month. Home office and small business offerings range from $250 to $500. The fastest and most expensive connection is reserved for larger data-hungry organizations and institutions that will pay around $3,000.
Video conferencing and telemedicine are two applications the Web site promises the network can be used for. And while most people are familiar with the concept of a video conference, telemedicine may be a new idea for some. Dietze explained that with the ability to securely and rapidly transfer large amounts of data, including video, new medical possibilities open up.
Doctors having trouble with a diagnosis or procedure at a hospital here could send all the information they have to a center elsewhere and receive assistance in real time, Dietze said.
He went on to say that while telemedicine may not become a reality for the Virgin Islands "tomorrow, these types of applications are not too far off."
Except for one stretch of undersea cable, "the rest of the network, end to end, is Comtek's. All of the cables, the equipment, the routers are Comtek's," Dietze said, explaining that this improves reliability, speed and security.
But while the broadband rush of information through Comtek's network in the territory has just begun, the company's arrival has been in the plans – and dreams – of its founder, president and CEO, Joseph E. Fergus, for many years.
Ginny McAdams, the company's marketing director, said during a recent interview that Fergus has been nursing the idea to bring affordable, high-speed internet services to the Virgin Islands for quite a while now.
Born in Antigua, Fergus grew up on St. Croix in a Kingshill housing community where he lived with his mother. He graduated from Central High School in 1974 and then enlisted for four years in the U.S. Navy, where he became a communications specialist.
He earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Norfolk State University in 1982 and pursued a master's in the same field at the University of Illinois.
Fergus then took a job with AT&T's Bell Labs, a major hot spot in the telecom revolution. He eventually became a senior scientist there and led a number of research and development projects along the way that left their mark on the technology that moves information around the world today.
14 years ago, after nearly 10 years with the company, Fergus left Bell Labs and struck out on his own with Comtek. Under his guidance the company has become a global leader in the information technology and services world, with more than 900 employees and six regional offices spread across the United States and, now, the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This is Comtek's first venture into providing Internet service outside the mainland United States, but if things go well for Fergus here, the V.I. won't be his last stop. "We are doing the same build-out on another island and have been contacted by others. We have plans to be able to deploy throughout the region," Dietz said.
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