Denis O’Brien backs plans for new 20Tbps Caribbean subsea fibre cable

21 Aug 2017

Denis O’Brien speaking in July 2017. Image: W Cleare/ITU/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Denis O’Brien has been identified as the largest financier of a new subsea fibre cable set to connect the Caribbean, including Cuba.

Denis O’Brien looks set to boost his influence in the Caribbean telecoms market even further after it was revealed that the Digicel founder is the biggest stakeholder in a new subsea fibre cable project in the region.

The Deep Blue Cable project aims to connect up the islands of the Caribbean with the US mainland, and will even include Cuba – a country that is only just starting to come out of strict online censorship – as part of a second development phase.

While his name does not appear on the project’s website, the Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner, speaking with Deep Blue Cable CEO Stephen Scott, found that O’Brien was indeed linked.

“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,” he said.

In a separate request, Digicel also confirmed that O’Brien was the main owner of the project.

On its website, Deep Blue Cable describes itself as an “independent company incorporated in Saint Lucia with NOC services from mainland US. Deep Blue Cable is ideally placed to establish these network services throughout the islands.”

Deep Blue cable map

Map showing the route of Deep Blue Cable’s subsea cables. Image: Deep Blue Cable

$100m in first phase

In terms of the logistics, Deep Blue Cable said the cables will span a distance of more than 10,000km in order to meet the demands of a growing Caribbean telecoms service, with 40 landing sites chosen among 28 countries.

The cables will consist of up to eight fibre pairs with an initial capacity of 6Tbps, with plans for a total capacity of 20Tbps when fully functional.

If all goes according to plan, the first phase of development will see the project spend up to $100m and will be operational in the first quarter of 2020.

Deep Blue Cable has estimated that the region is set to experience massive digital growth in the next two decades, with its telecom sector expected to increase between 27pc and 48pc.

Earlier this month, plans for a new 40Tbps subsea cable were announced by the west African telecoms company Angola Cables, in what would be the first direct connection between the continents of Africa and South America.

Denis O’Brien speaking in July 2017. Image: W Cleare/ITU/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic