Island pushes case to be submarine cable hub

  • Cable hub hopes: a submarine cable-laying ship, seen moored at Dockyard (File photograph)

    Cable hub hopes: a submarine cable-laying ship, seen moored at Dockyard (File photograph)


A Bermuda delegation attending a high-profile conference for the global submarine cable industry this week will promote the island as a strategic Atlantic landing hub for fibreoptic corridors.

SubOptic, a triennial event being held from today through Thursday in New Orleans, Louisiana, is the longest running and most comprehensive conference series in the world for the submarine cable industry.

The four-day summit attracts 800-plus attendees and features presentations by the global industry’s leading experts, including tech giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon.

“The delegation will be promoting Bermuda as an Atlantic hub for the interconnection of fibreoptic cables that are currently being built by some of the world’s largest tech companies,” said David Burt, the Premier.

“This government promised to diversify Bermuda’s economy, and this initiative, which the Cabinet has endorsed and is progressing through legislation, has the potential to create economic growth and jobs in Bermuda, as well as advance the island’s technology needs for the future.”

Fiona Beck, a BDA director and a two-term past president of SubOptic will deliver a presentation at the event on Bermuda’s advantages. “This event is like an Olympics for the submarine cable industry,” she said. “It could be a win-win for both Bermuda and this industry.”

Also attending SubOptic 2019 will be Kevin Richards, BDA business development manager and Jeane Nikolai, director of telecommunications and energy for the Bermuda Government, which is working in partnership with the BDA to progress a national subsea corridor initiative.

Legislation to create a dedicated fibreoptic corridor will be tabled in the House of Assembly in the next few months with the aim of attracting new cable business and boosting connectivity.

The effort builds on research overseen by Ms Beck and carried out at the BDA last summer by Notre Dame University’s Thomas Tran and Berkeley Institute graduate Tyrese Coakley whose report indicated an undersea corridor in Bermuda waters could help the island become a hub for trans-Atlantic fibreoptic links.

Mr Tran, a Kansas native, will attend SubOptic 2019 to present his follow-up white paper on the Bermuda project after it was accepted for peer review.

More than 97 per cent of the world’s information passes through cables, making them indispensable for connected societies and business centres. Bermuda’s location creates a logical stopover for cables connecting the Americas to Western Europe.

While the island already hosts three cables, a dedicated corridor would attract more and demonstrate best practice. Branching units from planned cable systems could also create significant infrastructure to satisfy Europe’s new economic substance requirements, supporting IP assets, Ms Beck said, and offer additional advantages to companies seeking network diversity and data privacy.

“Importantly, infrastructure via submarine cables could encourage head-office incorporations, making Bermuda a domicile of choice,” she added, “along with spin-off opportunities such as cloud computing, data storage and nearshore personal resourcing.”

A few subsea telecoms companies, including Southern Cross Cable Network and Australia-Japan Cable, currently have head offices in Bermuda.

“It’s a timely opportunity that could help position Bermuda as a point of major strategic benefit to these submarine projects,” Ms Beck said.

“It could also prove advantageous in the drive to diversify the island’s economy and support international business and fintech.”

To find out more about the subsea cable corridor initiative, contact kevin@bda.bm

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Published Apr 8, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 8, 2019 at 8:13 am)

Island pushes case to be submarine cable hub

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