By ; Basel Khaled
Ocean Networks (ONI), which develops submarine cable systems for governments, carriers, content providers and research and education groups, has announced the launch of its Caribbean Express (CX) project, an 18-fibre pair subsea cable system linking Florida to Panama and taking in Mexico and Colombia.
The CX system will use space division multiplexing (SDM) technology to connect West Palm Beach in Florida, Balboa in Panama, Cancun in Mexico and Cartagena in Colombia with high-speed, low-latency fibre-optic connectivity. The system will be designed for future connectivity options to other countries along the route.
ONI has to date already invested significant capital in progressing the route development of the system. This includes market analysis, permit and environmental studies and securing landing party agreements. The project is valued at approximately $300 million.
To complete the funding of the project, ONI has enlisted Commenda, an Atlanta-based merchant bank. Commenda has previously worked with corporate and governmental funds as well as US and foreign banks to privately fund projects like the Caribbean Express cable.
John R Runningen, co-founder and principal at Commenda, points out that consumer demand for a new submarine cable system between Central America and the US is enormous. “Traffic is nearly doubling every two years,” he says. He adds that large IT and telecom customers are anxious to expand their presence in these new and under-served consumer markets.
ONI has positioned branch units in strategic locations along the route to easily enable future connectivity. Once it is completed, ONI says that CX will be the only system that can offer new dedicated dark fibre pair IRUs (indefeasible rights of use) in the Caribbean market.
The cable system is due to be ready for service in early 2024.