Grand Plans – Atlantic Digital Port: Bermuda’s Subsea Cable Corridor Initiative
By Fiona Beck
July 22, 2019
Bermuda has demonstrated it knows how build a world renown reputation in the fields of insurance and financial services. It’s now looking to do the same in telecommunications and technology. Specifically, the island is driving plans to develop a subsea telecommunications corridor that would not only support industry best practices, but also provide critical connectivity to advance its own infrastructure and drive economic diversification.
For the first time, a Bermuda delegation attended the high-profile SubOptic conference in April to meet the global submarine cable industry and to promote the island as a strategic Atlantic landing hub for fibreoptic cables. Attending was Fiona Beck, a director of the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) and a two-term past president of SubOptic, who delivered a presentation on Bermuda’s advantages; she was joined by BDA Business Development Manager Kevin Richards and Jeane Nikolai, Director of Telecommunications and Energy for the Bermuda government, which is working in partnership with the BDA to progress the national subsea corridor initiative.
“The delegation promoted Bermuda as an Atlantic hub, a digital port if you like, for the interconnection of fibreoptic cables that are currently being built by some of the world’s largest tech companies,” says Bermuda’s Premier David Burt, whose government plans to table legislation later this year to create a dedicated fibreoptic corridor, with the aim of attracting new cable business and boosting connectivity. “Our government promised to diversify Bermuda’s economy, and this initiative, which the Cabinet has endorsed and is progressing through legislation, has the potential to create economic growth and jobs in Bermuda, as a link point for many new technology companies.”
The effort builds on research overseen by Beck and carried out at the BDA in the summer of 2018 by Notre Dame University’s Thomas Tran and Bermudian Tyrese Coakley whose report indicated a cable protection zone in Bermuda waters could help the island become a hub for trans-Atlantic fiberoptic links. Kansas native Tran also attended SubOptic 2019 to present his follow-up white paper on the Bermuda project after it was accepted for peer review.
More than 97 percent of the world’s information passes through cables, making them indispensable for connected societies and business centres. Bermuda’s location creates a logical stopover for cables between the Americas, Western Europe and Africa. While the island already hosts three cables, a dedicated corridor and Bermuda’s focus on the submarine community and their assets would attract more and would further develop best practice.