DIGICEL has signed a partnership agreement with Orange to extend the build of its Deep Blue One subsea cable and system from Trinidad and Tobago (TT) to French Guiana by an additional 2,000 km.
This will provide connectivity to French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad.
The cable will also be routed to connect the many offshore oil and gas rigs on the back of the industry boom in the region, and will include new cable landings in Trinidad, with a new route between Trinidad and Suriname. Installation of the cable is expected to begin in mid-2023, with the project expected to be completed in early 2024.
It will complement Digicel’s existing Southern Caribbean Fiber network, which already has approximately 3,000 km of submarine cable connecting 20 islands in the Eastern Caribbean, running from Trinidad up to Puerto Rico, with onward connectivity to Miami and New York.
In a press statement, the company described the project as a significant investment in international submarine capacity.
“Our substantial investment in submarine capacity underpins our confidence in the development of the region. A great example of this is the connectivity options we will be able to provide, both onshore and offshore, to the oil and gas industries in countries like Guyana and Suriname as they capitalise on the boom in the region,” Digicel Group CEO, Oliver Coughlan, is quoted in the statement as saying.
This cable will have five branching units, as well as the capability to provide connectivity for offshore rigs, with anywhere from two to eight fibre pairs in each segment, offering a minimum of 12Tbit/s capacity, per fibre pair, the statement also said.
Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 42.3 billion euros in 2020 and 139,000 employees worldwide at 30 June 2021, including 80,000 employees in France.
With presence in 26 countries, the group has a total customer base of 263 million worldwide as at June 30, 2021, including 218 million mobile customers and 22 million fixed broadband customers. Orange is also a leading provider of global IT and telecommunication services to multinational companies under the brand Orange Business Services.
As a major player in the submarine cable industry, with investments in over 40 cables worldwide, Orange will rely on its expertise to act as landing party in Cayenne for the French Guiana branch and to operate the cable landing station on behalf of Digicel while its subsidiary, Orange Marine, will be in charge of laying the cable.
Peter Hobbs, Group Director International and Wholesale Business at Digicel Group noted: “As a Digital Operator serving over 13 million customers in 32 countries globally, we’re focused on driving economic opportunities for our customers. This is an exciting next phase for us; it’s about delivering quality, reliability, performance and, importantly, opportunity. We’re excited to get going on this.”
According to Digicel, the cable system will bring a full economical ecosystem for the benefit of all.
In a 2019 report published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), titled “The economic contribution of broadband, digitisation and ICT regulation: Econometric modelling for the Americas”, it was suggested that an increase of 10% in fixed broadband penetration would result in an increase in 1.9 per cent in GDP per capita,” the statement noted.
This latest development comes almost one year after the telecommunications sector in Guyana was liberalised, following an over 20-year monopoly.