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Choice Official Will Manage Communications Technology at RTPark

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March 17, 2008 — The University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park has signed on a Choice Communications official to manage the tech park's telecommunications connectivity and network capacity inside the Global Crossing fiber hub on St. Croix.
Cornelius Prior Jr. is chairman of the Salem, Mass.-based Atlantic Tele-Network, as well as its Virgin Islands-based subsidiary, Choice Communications, which provides wireless and dial-up Internet and wireless television service.
"The success of RTPark's mission to foster the growth of leading knowledge-based and e-commerce businesses in the U.S. Virgin Islands depends on support from private-sector leaders," said David Zumwalt, executive director of RTPark. "Mr. Prior has served our territory as chairman of Vitelco from 1987 to 1997, the rural telephone industry of the U.S. as president of the Eastern Rural Telephone Association for two years and the Caribbean telecommunications industry most recently as chairman of the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations."
Zumwalt emphasized to the Source the contract was with Prior personally, not with Choice Communications.
"This is not a relationship with Choice," he said Monday. "It is with Neil Prior. We are carrier neutral."
Prior will handle the provision of Internet connectivity, providing specific amounts and types of bandwidth. He will ensure the services are provided and manage billing.
In February the RTPark announced that Baltimore Technology Park would run its satellite collocation data center inside the Global Crossing fiber hub on St. Croix. (See "UVI Technology Park Brings in Baltimore Firm to Run Data Center.")
Baltimore Technology Park will manage the floor space, maintaining racks for equipment placement, and handle the physical facilities within which bandwidth will be provided. Prior will oversee the backbone of connectivity between all such equipment and the Global Crossing fiber optic cable hub, ensuring the bandwidth is provided, Zumwalt explained.
"Opportunities for growth are already apparent from the increased demand we're seeing here at home," said Prior in a statement from the RTPark. "Through its mandate and leadership, RTPark has set the stage for a major expansion of these opportunities."
The RTPark is an economic-development initiative begun by the university. The main RTPark will occupy a 20,000-square-foot facility on UVI's St. Croix campus. Plans for that facility were begun in November by the Minneapolis-based architecture firm Architectural Alliance, and are scheduled to be complete by late May.
Because the RTPark will be built at UVI, the park itself will be able to handle most e-commerce businesses, but not ones that use gigantic amounts of very fast bandwidth. The satellite at Global Crossing was created to take advantage of extremely broad bandwidth available only there.
One of two major data-trunk cables landing on St. Croix, the Global Crossing cable carries the bulk of all communications in and out of the Virgin Islands and most Latin American telecommunication traffic to the U.S. mainland. To date, more than $6 million has been appropriated by the Legislature for developing the project. The Public Finance Authority has also set aside another $7 million for construction, which it will not begin to disburse until all the designs, plans and permits are in place.
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