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Bermuda Builds New Economy on Remnants of Cold War

29 June 2000

ST.DAVID'S ISLAND, BERMUDA -- June 29, 2000 – As reported by Reuters: "On the grounds of an abandoned U.S. Navy base on Bermuda's eastern end, a handful of startup companies are building the island's e-commerce future on the remnants of its Cold War past.

"…Working from a blueprint that made the British Overseas Territory an offshore haven for insurance and international business, Bermuda is seeking to tap into global growth in electronic commerce, particularly B2B, or business-to-business, transactions.

"`Certainly we've got the leap in regulations,' said Pat Phillip-Bassett, who heads up the Bermuda International Business Association. `We put our line in the sand quite early.' TeleBermuda lighted up its first fiber-optic cable from New Jersey to Bermuda in 1997, breaking Cable & Wireless Plc's monopoly on long-distance service from the island. By yearend, the company will complete a second loop linking North and South America with Bermuda.

"`Think of it as a hub. Bermuda becomes the star of the hub,' TeleBermuda operations manager Claude Bourque said. `It becomes an opportunity for e-commerce transactions to telehouse here.'

"The 2,500-mile loop, terminating in Bermuda, will be capable of handling 20 million simultaneous conversations.

"`This puts Bermuda at the crossroads of some very important traffic,' said Stephen Davidson, whose startup company, QuoVadis Ltd., is developing encryption systems to confirm B2B transactions online. `Bermuda becomes very attractive to put data centers here. This is not retail. This is high-end.'

"Streamlined business regulations, new laws aimed at encouraging online business and a track record as a legitimate international business center are Bermuda's key selling points for attracting online businesses.

"The island has longstanding regulations banning Internet gambling and pornography shops from setting up here, lending it an air of legitimacy compared to offshore domiciles like Anguilla, Antigua and the Dominican Republic.

"…'When they hear offshore, I think they think of suitcases of money and secret bank accounts and that is distinctly not Bermuda,' Davidson said. A Dartmouth graduate with a Georgetown MBA, he is among a generation of Bermuda-born entrepreneurs leading the island's push into e-commerce... "

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