Jamaica’s two main telecoms providers, Flow and Digicel, are offering little response to the fact that American telecoms Ocean Networks is coming to Jamaica with its Caribbean Express, a new multi-billion-dollar submarine cable system being rolled out across Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Express project, an 18-fibre pair subsea cable system linking Florida to Panama, which is just being built out, is also being extended to Kingston, Jamaica. In addition to Jamaica, Caribbean Express will also be rolled out in several other Caribbean and Latin American countries (LAC), thus bringing greater connectivity to the region.
When contacted by the Jamaica Observer both Flow and Digicel offered lukewarm responses to the news of Caribbean Express coming to Jamaica. Caribbean Express will directly compete with Flow, which, through its parent company Cable & Wireless, operates its own subsea cable network linking Jamaica with the United States and the LAC region on a whole.
In its response to a query about Caribbean Express coming to Jamaica, Flow said, “the subsea network owned by Cable & Wireless, parent company of Flow, is the most advanced subsea ecosystem in the region and has ample capacity to service the existing and future needs of Jamaica. Our customers include the Government, other regional telecommunication providers and global multinational carriers.”
The company, through its director of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement, Kayon Mitchell, points out that Flow “continues to invest in the continued growth of Jamaica and will continue to provide telecom services where needed for the efficient operation of our customers’ businesses”.
DIGICEL ONE-SENTENCE RESPONSE
Through its head of Group Communications Antonia Graham, Digicel responded, “while we’re aware of it and following it with interest, we have no comment at this time.” The Atlanta, Georgia-based Ocean Networks cable system announced three weeks ago that Jamaica will be among its regional stops, rolling out its expensive and hi-tech Caribbean Express submarine cable system.
However, this will not be done immediately but incrementally. In the initial phase, which is currently on the way, the Caribbean Express network will not only run between Palm Beach, Florida and Balboa, Panama, but also with additional landing points in Cancún, Mexico and Cartagena, Colombia.
Ocean Networks disclosed plans to build more than a dozen landing points along the route in the coming years in cities such Kingston, (Jamaica), Havana (Cuba), George Town (Grand Cayman), Puerto Barrios (Guatemala), Puerto Lempira (Honduras), Bluefields (Nicaragua), and Limón (Costa Rica).
FUNCTIONALITY OF CARIBBEAN EXPRESS
Ocean Network claims that once launched, Caribbean Express will be the only system that can offer dedicated dark fibre pair indefeasible right of use (IRU) in the Caribbean market. An IRU permits customer to have exclusive use of fibres throughout the term of a contract.
Ocean Networks owns more than 8,000 km of submarine cable systems around the world, mostly in the Western Hemisphere. The system will be designed for future connectivity options to other countries along the route.