Sat | Feb 27, 2021

Caribbean Express project launches subsea cable linking Florida to Panama

Published:Thursday | February 18, 2021 | 6:18 PM

ATLANTA, Feb. 18, CMC – Ocean Networks (ONI) a company based in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, has confirmed the launch of its Caribbean Express project, an 18-fibre pair subsea cable system linking the state of Florida to Panama.

The CX system will use Space Division Multiplexing 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.

Valued at approximately US$300 million, 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.

Concerning  the funding of the project, ONI has enlisted Commenda, an Atlanta-based merchant bank that has previously worked with corporate and governmental funds as well as US and foreign banks to privately fund projects like the Caribbean Express cable.

“The consumer demand for a new submarine cable system between Central America and the US is enormous. Traffic is nearly doubling every two years,” says John R. Runningen, co-founder and principal at Commenda.

“As a result, ONI has already received significant subscriber interest from large IT and telecom customers who are anxious to expand their presence in these new and under-served consumer markets.”

According to ONI, several large corporate customers have already expressed interest in either a dedicated fibre pair or managed bandwidth as soon as CX is completed.

In addition, due to the need for a system like CX in the region and its impact on the economies of the Central and South America, there is the potential for governmental partners to join this project as well.

As a result, ONI has positioned branch units in strategic locations along the route to easily enable future connectivity. 

Once completed CX will be the only system that can offer new dedicated dark fibre pair IRUs in the Caribbean market.

“We are excited about launching this new submarine cable digital superhighway across the Caribbean.” says Robert Hildebrecht, CFO at Ocean Networks.

“We selected Commenda to raise the balance of the capital for this project based on the experience of their team and their successful track record in advising rapidly growing companies like ONI. With the support of Commenda and the experience of the ONI team, we fully expect the Caribbean Express cable system to be completed on schedule and under budget.”

Due to become ready for service in early 2024, the next steps for the project along with the remaining capital commitments, include supplier request for quotation’s issued in March to selected system suppliers, with the awarded contracts in force by July 2021.

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