Early 2017 saw the launch of a new cable system project that looks set to disrupt the current Caribbean market and feed the region’s growing demands for bandwidth. Known as Deep Blue Cable, the project is the first pan-regional cable system to be developed in the last ten years, and with bandwidth pricing in the Caribbean remaining one of the highest in the world, the Deep Blue team is on a mission to change existing business models and increase the region’s attractiveness for companies to do business through affordable and reliable connectivity.
We caught up with CEO Stephen Scott, where he shares more on the project with us and his take on the region’s future.
Tell us more about yourself (and your organisation)
Based in St. Lucia, Deep Blue Cable is the developer, owner and operator of a state-of-the art subsea fibre-optic system providing connectivity across the Caribbean islands and to the Americas. The pan-Caribbean system design spans nearly 12,000 km with initial landing points in 12 markets throughout the region, including the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turks & Caicos Islands. The Deep Blue cable system will also feature dual diverse landings in the U.S., which will include the first landing of a cable on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
The Deep Blue subsea cable network, which will offer an initial capacity of 6 Tbps per fibre pair, projected to be completed in Q4 of 2019, will ensure availability, competitive pricing and capacity resilience for this region. The Deep Blue network will benefit the region’s businesses and consumers by offering significantly higher design capacity, lower unit costs, lower latency through direct connectivity, and the ability to leverage advancements in reliability such as improved route planning and installation techniques.
The Deep Blue cable system will be a network providing direct fibre connectivity between major traffic hubs, as well as optical add/drop connectivity to many smaller markets throughout the region. Deep Blue has contracted with TE SubCom to build and deploy the Deep Blue subsea cable system. Using TE SubCom’s proven OADM (optical add/drop multiplexer) branching unit technology, Deep Blue Cable can cost-effectively supply international bandwidth across a range of Caribbean markets, large and small, in a scalable manner over time.
As for my own background, I am an Honours Engineering Graduate with more than 25 years’ senior level experience in telecommunications working with Global Marine Systems, Global Switch, PSiNet Europe, Navisite and Sentrum Data Centres. Alongside these roles, I also spent 10 years as COO at Bridgehouse Capital, gaining significant private equity experience while participating in multiple sector acquisitions, restructures and company sales. Currently, I am also a Non Exec Chairman at Virtual1, the UK’s fastest growing telecoms company.
In one sentence, how would you describe the state of the subsea communications industry today?
While transcontinental submarine cable systems receive the lion’s share of the industry’s attention, as globalisation continues to reach emerging economies, the importance of regional submarine cable systems that provide connectivity cannot be understated; it is what provides reach after all.
It’s critical for this region to access connectivity to international and regional telecom operators, regional network providers, Over-the-Top providers and large enterprises, including financial services, and oil and gas companies.
How do you see the industry evolving in the next 5 years?
To look at the Caribbean region, which is Deep Blue’s focus, bandwidth demand is strong, and high growth is forecasted due to increasing regional investment in fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure. However, existing Caribbean fibre-optic connectivity is technologically and economically disadvantaged, and there has been no new pan-regional fibre-optic deployment in the last ten years with some of the region’s primary undersea cable links already nearing or exceeding their planned technical lifespan of 20 years.
Developing Caribbean countries are experiencing a surge in demand for advanced telecommunications services but have been constrained in terms of limited operator choice. It’s critical for this region to access connectivity to international and regional telecom operators, regional network providers, Over-the-Top providers and large enterprises, including financial services, and oil and gas companies.
What do you think is one key challenge facing the industry today? How do you think it can be overcome?
Once again, to look at the Caribbean region, bandwidth pricing remains among the highest in the world, at least 12 times more expensive than transatlantic capacity, six times more expensive than transpacific capacity and two and a half times more expensive than capacity between the U.S. and Brazil.
Though the price of connectivity in the Caribbean is at an all-time high, it doesn’t have to remain that way. System operators throughout the region are beginning to realise that these prices are depressing the markets and driving away potential business. As a commodity, bandwidth can be neither saved nor transferred, and any unused capacity perishes. In addition, the presence of new subsea cable providers throughout the Caribbean will bring about competition that will ultimately erode the base unit price.
By ensuring competitive pricing and resilience through alternative supply, the Deep Blue cable will release Caribbean island-based companies that are locked into decades-old agreements with single supplier and consortium model cable systems that favour the operator.
Additionally, the establishment of more affordable and reliable connectivity throughout the Caribbean will not only benefit the region itself but also international enterprises. Throughout the Caribbean, many nations’ populace are proficient in Spanish, French and English, so improved connectivity presents a unique opportunity for foreign companies to invest and enhance their versatility with the establishment of local operations centres.
Is this your first time attending Submarine Networks World? If so, what are you looking forward to at the conference?
I have attended Submarine Networks World during my time with Global Marine Systems. It is a great opportunity for Deep Blue Cable to engage potential customers and partners, and discuss the challenges directly impacting the global wholesale telecom community across both the subsea and terrestrial network sectors. As you know, Deep Blue is participating in the Global Cable Project Showcase, so the opportunity to meet with decision makers and share the latest updates concerning the Deep Blue cable system in that environment is particularly exciting.
Steve will be sharing more on the Deep Blue cable project during the Global Cable Project Showcase at Submarine Networks World 2017 (25-27 September, Singapore). If you have burning questions on the project, you’ll have a chance to ask him directly during the Project Developers’ Roundtable, and find out more on how you can partner with the team.
Join Steve together with over 500 industry leaders at the only annual platform dedicated for the subsea communications community to meet, exchange knowledge and develop new strategies and partnerships.
Keen to learn more? Get in touch with the team: