Cayman could benefit from regional undersea fiber-optic cable project

Digicel founder backing network development

Map of the projected regional Deep Blue Cable project, along with the existing undersea cable connections serving Cayman. – Map: Cayman Compass

The Cayman Islands is currently connected to only two underwater fiber-optic cable systems, both of which are around 20 years old.

That could change by the end of the decade, however: St. Lucia-based Deep Blue Cable, whose owner is Digicel founder and billionaire Denis O’Brien, is working on an ambitious plan to lay a 12,000-kilometer (7,456-mile) subsea cable that will initially connect to 12 markets, including Cayman, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.

The network will provide services for the territory’s local telecommunications companies, Deep Blue Cable CEO Stephen Scott told the Compass. He said the territory would receive multiple benefits from a new subsea cable.

First, the added underwater fiber would provide more security in the case of one of the other networks experiencing a failure.

Mr. Scott said it should also decrease broadband prices in a region that was lagging behind most of the rest of the world.

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“In the Caribbean, the cost of broadband is about $4 per megabit per month, compared with the Atlantic, which is 40 cents per Mb per month,” he said. “That’s predominantly because of the lack of competition [in the Caribbean].”

The Deep Blue CEO further explained that the new network will be more cost-efficient than the existing ones because of improvements to fiber technology that have taken place over the decades.

The new cable could even slightly improve speeds because the cable will travel across a shorter route to Florida and Jamaica, Mr. Scott added.

Deep Blue Cable CEO Stephen Scott

Deep Blue is aiming to have the initial network onstream by the fourth quarter of 2019, but the project is still in the early stages. Mr. Scott said the company is in discussions with regulators in the U.S. – the cable is planned to connect to Naples, Florida – and around the Caribbean.

Deep Blue is also determining exactly where to locate its two connection points planned for Grand Cayman, he added, explaining that the company had two landing points decided, but is reconsidering their location after conducting a terrestrial survey here.

Mr. Scott declined to say how much the initial Deep Blue project is expected to cost, but said that a fiber network spanning the entire region would run at more than $400 million. Such an investment is worth being made in a market ripe for competition, he said.

“A number of the existing cables in the region will reach the end of their design life over the coming 10 years,” he said. “There will be opportunities to sell wholesale to a significant number of Caribbean operators.”

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  1. This is so needed! But we also need real reform in the telecom space……our legislation only went half way…..and then we need standards that are enforced…….and goals…..the only thing keeping us from having the most advanced telecom infrastructure is us! It is not money.