New submarine cable system for Caribbean

LIME’s parent company Cable & Wireless Communications has joined a new consortium to build a submarine cable system connecting the Caribbean, Central America and South America. 

The Pacific Caribbean Cable System will run 6,000 kilometres from Jacksonville, Florida, to Manta, Ecuador, with landing stations in the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena in Colombia, Maria Chiquita in Panama and Balboa in Panama, according to a news release. 

“What it will effectively do for us is it will allow LIME to route traffic in a complete loop around the Caribbean if required,” said Donnie Forbes, head of service support and delivery for LIME Cayman Islands. 

The Cayman Islands is served by two submarine cable systems, the MAYA-1 Cable System and Cayman-Jamaica Fibre System. Mr. Forbes said there isn’t an issue with running out of bandwidth on those two existing cables in the near future. Advances in technology have allowed providers to effectively increase the original design capacities of the cables many times over. 

However, he said the new cable system will give greater access to a wider area in which to operate, and provide Cayman’s telecommunications sector with greater resiliency. 

The MAYA-1 system goes north and south out of Cayman. The first point south is Panama. There, providers can tie into the new system and then go to Ecuador or any of the other countries. Likewise, the Cayman-Jamaica system goes directly to Jamaica, where LIME can tie into the East-West Cable System and go to BVI, and there pick up on this new cable and other systems. 

Although cables are underwater, they have to land on an island or a country somewhere. At that point, there is the possibility of damage, perhaps from a hurricane. Also, where the cable sits in shallow water, there could be the possibility of it being damaged by a ship’s anchor, fishing trawlers, and undersea earthquakes or landslides. In addition to greater resiliency in case of disaster or accident, the new system will give Cayman greater access to Latin American emerging market, although most of Cayman’s communications go to the United States, Mr. Forbes said. 

“It’s part of our wider strategy. We are continuing to invest and build and expand with our consortium partners, delivering the bandwidth required for the Latin-Caribbean area,” he said. 

Work on the new 100-gigabit cable system will begin before the end of the year, and a commercial launch is expected in the third quarter of 2014. In addition to Cable & Wireless, the other consortium members are Setar, Telconet, Telefonica Global Solutions and United Telecommunications Services. 

CWC Wholesale Solutions Chief Operating Officer Felix Camargo said in a news release, “The PCCS cable will add to the extensive subsea cable assets we have in the key corridor between north and south America and help us to meet the demand for good value, high quality international connectivity from telecom and pay TV companies in the Caribbean, Central and South America. PCCS will also help us to support increased broadband penetration and usage in the pan-American markets in which we operate.” 

Editor’s note: This story has been changed from the original to correct the location of the cable.

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