Cayman Islands Government Considers New Underwater Network Cable
By Reshma Ragoonath, Cayman Compass
August 12, 2020
Government has issued a request for information tender for a new submarine information and communications technology cable.
The aim of the tender, according to the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure documents issued together with the RFI, is “to kick off industry consultation on a new submarine cable infrastructure”.
The RFI was posted on government’s procurement portal and runs until 18 Aug.
At present, Cayman uses the MAYA-1 underwater cable, which also provides services to the US, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia, and the Cayman Jamaica Fibre System, which is a direct link between those two countries.
According to the tender documents, Cayman’s existing international gateway communication is through those two systems, both of which “landed 20 years ago or longer”.
For years, there has been discussion about installing a new submarine cable to enhance local capacity and reliability.
In 2013, Cayman lost almost 34% of its international circuits when there was a “shunt fault” on the MAYA-1 cable, causing an interruption in service for roughly two days. In 2018, there was a similar interruption, although at that time it reportedly was a scheduled break in connectivity.
Both instances highlighted the need for new infrastructure and, more importantly, a back-up for Cayman’s international connectivity.
The RFI documents state that it is the Cayman Islands’ intention “to add value through its services to the global digital ecosystem (by becoming a high functioning ICT market) and it realises it cannot achieve this goal without affordable modern fibre optic technology”.
To this end, “it is critical that the Islands improve its telecommunications profile through the implementation of new submarine cable infrastructure that provides low-latency, high-resiliency and provides redundancy”, according to the documents.
The Cayman Islands government, through the CPI ministry, is encouraging both local and international industry participants to provide input to this consultation.