Cayman Islands Seeks Partner for New Subsea Cable

The Cayman Islands Government is seeking a partner for a new subsea cable to enhance connectivity and resiliency.By Dan Swinhoe, Data Center Dynamics
June 4, 2024

The Cayman Islands is planning to deploy a new subsea cable.

The government first mooted plans for a new cable in 2022, and looks to be moving forward with the proposal.

Ranulf Scarbrough, who leads the Cayman Islands Submarine Cable Modernisation Project for the Cayman Islands Government, presented the self-governing British Overseas Territory’s plans at the Subsea Networks EMEA conference in London last week.

The Caribbean islands are currently served by two subsea cables; the unrepeatered Cayman-Jamaica Fiber System (CJFS) connecting two of the three Cayman islands to Jamaica; and the Maya-1 cable linking Columbia to Florida via Panama, Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica.

The two cables both date back to the dotcom boom days – the Liberty-owned CJFS from 1997, and the consortium-owned Maya-1 from 2000. Scarbrough noted that there seems to be little appetite from incumbents to replace the current two cables.

The Cayman government is hoping to deploy a new cable to increase resiliency – Scarbrough said Maya-1 was cut several times in 2020, and CJFS suffered issues late last year. He said a ten-day cable outage could cost the island £150-200 million.

“Both systems are aging, and the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) has no certainty or control with regard to the future of either of the existing cables. The CIG considers subsea cables critical national infrastructure, and the lack of certainty about their future introduces various risks to the islands, and represents a threat to the islands’ future,” a business case report from the government said.

There is a monopoly on subsea connectivity to the island; CJFS is owned by Liberty, and the landing party for Maya-1 in the Cayman Islands, Flow, is also owned by Liberty via its Cable and Wireless (C&W) unit. Connectivity costs are high on the islands, so it's also hoped a new cable will bring down the price for companies and consumers.

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