Cayman Islands at Digital Crossroads: Aging Subsea Cables or New Age Connectivity?

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Famed as a linchpin of the global financial sphere, courtesy of its renowned offshore banking services, the Cayman Islands are ironically found linked to the global community by only two submarines cables. Each of these cables, the relics of the late 20th century, lay testimonial to the islands’ reliance on somewhat dated technology.

The earliest of the duo, the Cayman-Jamaica Fiber System, was commissioned in 1997. Its counterpart, the expansive Maya-1 cable extending from Florida, USA, to Tolu, Colombia, and touching the Cayman Islands en route, joined the party in 2000.

Two decades after the establishment of these cables, they continue to be the lifeline for majority of the island’s international data traffic. Indubitably, these submarine cables have served commendably for a considerable period. However, they are nearing the brink of their operational longevity – typically envisioned to be around 25 years before obsolescence kicks in due to the stride of technological progress.

In anticipation of this impending imperative for modernisation, the Cayman Islands initiated a futuristic journey last year. It was heralded by an announcement of the Cayman Islands’ Ministry of Infrastructure that they had undertaken to conduct a feasibility study. The objective was to ascertain the need for investment in a fresh submarine cable system.

Fast forward to eighteen months and the islands’ government seems poised for a modernisation drive for their cable system. Connectedness may soon cease to be a mirage as the government has initiated a partnership with CMC. Vibrantly bolstered by this $1.69 million collaboration, the government intends to tap into CMC’s proficiency in cable planning, system procurement and implementation. In this endeavour, CMC will derive support from partnerships with the US-based submarine cable consulting firm, WFN Strategies and Cayman Island-based SBM International.

In his statement, Johany “Jay” Ebanks, the Cayman Island’s Minister of Planning, Agriculture, Housing & Infrastructure proclaimed, “Digital connectivity is crucial to the way our islands live, work and play in a modern world. These resources will help us ensure the Cayman Islands can be confident that our digital connections to the outside world will match the critical dependence we place on them. I welcome these new capabilities to the Ministry’s team and look forward to working with them on these important initiatives.”

Evidently, this endeavour by the Cayman Islands government will enable the island territory to augment its digital connectivity, equipping it to hold its own in today’s modern world.

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