Digicel Founder’s Fingers in Pie of New Telecoms Operator

Irish business magnate Denis O’Brien, founder and chairman of telecommunications provider Digicel, is behind the St Lucia-based subsea cable operator Deep Blue Cable that has announced plans to operate a fibre-optic cable network that will provide connectivity across the Caribbean.

Deep Blue Chief Executive Officer Stephen Scott confirmed O’Brien’s involvement to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, but insisted the new telecom player was not linked to the Digicel Group.

Deep Blue Cable and Digicel Group have a common shareholder, but Deep Blue Cable has its own management team and is separate and distinct from Digicel Group,” Scott said.

Last month, Deep Blue announced plans to break the fibre optic stranglehold held predominantly by the two leading telecoms in the region, Digicel and Cable and Wireless Communications.

It said it would partner with TE SubCom – a subsidiary of US$12 billion global technology company TE Connectivity – a to build the pan-Caribbean system that will span nearly 12,000 km with initial landing points in 12 markets throughout the region.

The cable network will initially connect Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Curacao, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands, with eventual branches to Colombia and Panama. There will also be two connections to the United States, including the first landing of a cable on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Deep Blue Cable predicts that the ICT infrastructure project will reduce broadband service prices across the region, arguing that the fibre-optic connectivity that Caribbean countries currently rely on is “economically disadvantaged”.

“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 company stated in a press release.

Scott revealed that the project should be up and running by the first quarter of 2020, explaining that it takes around four to five years get a sub-sea cable system up and running.

Deep Blue estimates the growth in regional telecom demand over the next 20 years at between 27 per cent and 48 per cent over the period.

Currently, CWC owns a subsea network that spans more than 48,000 km with an additional 38,000 km of terrestrial fibre, while Digicel holds over 3,000 km of subsea cable.

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