The 4,200 residents of St. Helena currently rely on a slow satellite connection campaigners for broadband say is stunting the island's growth, but the British Overseas Territory needs $16 million to connect to a submarine data cable, the BBC reported Thursday.
Britain was one of a number of countries at a conference in Dubai last month that refused to sign a proposed U.N. treaty regarding changes to Internet governance. That means a clause requiring states to aid in connecting remote communities will no longer be enforced, removing any obligation for Britain to offer financial assistance to communities such as St Helena.
A campaign is under way to raise funds for connecting the island to the South Atlantic Express, a new super-fast fiber optic cable being laid by South African firm eFive, which agreed last year to alter the cable's path to bring it closer to the island.
An investment of around $16 million, campaigners said, would be sufficient to connect to the cable.
With better and faster Internet access, campaigners said, local residents, particularly young people, will be less inclined to feel they must leave the island -- more than 1,200 miles from the nearest major landmass -- for study and work.
"Internet here at the moment is tremendously expensive because it's satellite -- it's well over 100 pounds ($160) a month," Mike Olffon, owner of the island's radio station Saint FM, told the BBC.