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The Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about 483 kilometres east of South America's southern Patagonian coast. The archipelago comprises East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 smaller islands. As a British overseas territory, the Falklands have internal self-governance, and the United Kingdom takes responsibility for their defence and foreign affairs.
Falkland Islands is not a member of the ITU. The regulatory body governing communications policy is the F.I.G Law & Regulation Directorate who is also charged with regulating the country's radio frequency spectrum activities such as planning, allocations, and licencing.
The early years of Falkland Islands communications tell of hardship and struggle. Correspondence from West Falklands to Stanley could take up to three months as it was carried by horseback and sailing vessels.
The first telephones were installed by the Falkland Islands Company in 1880 by Mr Boyson, the manager at the time. The Falkland Islands Government were slow to see the advantages of telephones and it was not until February 1897 that a telephone was installed at Cape Pembroke Lighthouse and connected to the Police Station to improve the response time to rescue vessels damaged whilst rounding Cape Horn.
By 1907 telephone lines were being erected to all the main settlements outside of Stanley, telephones were also installed at this time into business buildings and Government Departments. The Falkland Islands Police were responsible for the installation and maintenance of the lines until 1927. In 1911, Marconi built a 5 kilowatt wireless telegraphy station, allowing telegrams to be sent to Montevideo in Uruguay.
The biggest communication change for the "Camp" (the name given to the area outside of Stanley's boundaries) occurred in 1950, when the telephone was replaced by radio telephone (although the camp telephone network remained in operation until 1982). All business, medical problems and education correspondence were communicated over radio telephone.
In October 1974, Cable & Wireless became responsible for the colony's external telecommunications. Direct calls could be booked to the UK and South American mainland. After the 1982 conflict, the MOD and Cable & Wireless erected an earth station to the east side of what is now the main offices car park. This station allowed for the first time direct dialling through Autelca card phones. In 1989, Cable & Wireless won the contract to provide domestic as well as an international telephone service for the Falkland Islands.
Communication on the Islands has changed significantly since then with the introduction of national, international and mobile telephone service and internet service. In 2006 broadband was successfully implemented in Stanley and Mount Pleasant Complex, with 2008/09 seeing the service rolled out across the Islands.
High quality satellite links provide a clear and fast connection with the rest of the World. Roaming facilities are also available on a number of mobile networks, which enable calls and text messaging between agreed networks across the world.
Cable & Wireless continued to invest in the network infrastructure on the Falkland Islands and the international links, enabling a robust and high quality communications services for both residential and business customers. During 2008/09 the company invested 1.5 million pounds in developing a new Camp network which is able to provide broadband services to anywhere on the Islands, including remote islands, using WiMAX, a fixed wireless technology. Sure have deployed a total of 14 WiMAX base stations across the Falkland Islands, 6 in East Falkland and 8 in West Falkland, providing coverage to every resident which does not have access to MSAN-based wired access technology.
In late 2011 the mobile network was vastly extended around the Islands, increasing coverage to include large parts of Camp including Fox Bay and Port Howard on West Falklands. August 2012 saw the mobile network data enabled offering customers the ability to send and receive picture and video messages and access the internet on their mobile phones for the first time.
Courtesy of Sure Falkland Islands.