Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett shared the following statement on the introduction of U.S. Virgin Islands Trans-Atlantic Submarine Fiber Optic Cable Legislation, H.R. 3385:
“I am pleased to introduce legislation to request an assessment of the value, cost, and feasibility of developing a Trans-Atlantic submarine fiber optic cable which will connect New York and Virginia Beach, Virginia; with Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana. The DiasporaLink Act represents an opportunity to establish a high-speed Internet connection to Africa and throughout the Caribbean from American soil, which will enhance America’s national security data and communication interests in the regions. In the legislation, this Trans-Atlantic submarine fiber optic cable will intersect in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Presently, there is no direct fiber optic link between the US and the continent of Africa. Africa is increasingly an area that presents dynamic economic opportunity for our country as well as national security challenges that must be addressed. The Virgin Islands is strategically positioned in the transit zones to fight transnational crime and protect U.S. national and regional security in the Caribbean as well as be a safe hub for optic between the two continents.
“The Trans-Atlantic submarine fiber optic cable network’s strategic location makes DiasporaLink a “Digital Safe Harbor” under the U.S. flag. This service will provide African and Caribbean submarine operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) a clear channel to U.S. financial and business centers.
“In addition, undersea cables have significant strategic importance and an estimated 400 of them carry approximately 98 percent of international internet data as well as telephone traffic around the world. Many are owned and operated by U.S. companies — helping reinforce U.S. dominance over the internet while giving a sense of security to the U.S. and its allies that may be concerned about sabotage or surveillance.
“Having the hub in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a significant 21st-century paradigm shift; it allows our islands’ advantages, many of which have been used for the benefit of other world powers (i.e., the VI’s geostrategic location), to be utilized for the benefit of our people.
“DiasporaLink in the USVI will make it a hub for commerce in the global digital economy and will stimulate high-tech job opportunities for Virgin Islanders and attract digital users to the territory.
“The DiasporaLink Act is envisioned as both a national security instrument and a digital commerce expressway to boost America’s global, political, economic, and military advantages and influences. This act will ensure the region is not forgotten as it confronts increasing regional political instability and transnational criminal activity.
“I look forward to this legislation (H.R. 3385) to be the first that directly connects the African continent with the North American one. This legislation has to be voted on in the House and the Senate, and if passed, will be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”