Fibre future for telecoms

The Journal speaks with Bob Kenner, director of Technical Operations, Lee Greene, VP sales from TeleCayman to find out how new infrastructure will revolutionise the way Cayman businesses communicate on the global stage.

Why is fibre so important to a telecommunications company?

The major financial centres of the world are all linked by fibre optic networks, so businesses dealing with the Cayman Islands either assume or expect Cayman to have a similar infrastructure, therefore having this new infrastructure puts Cayman ahead of other offshore locations. (LIME currently offers a mix of old copper infrastructure and fibre and WestTel are essentially offering the same product as TeleCayman.) However, it won’t be long before LIME replaces its copper with fibre to businesses and then all three have the same product and it becomes a commodity. But right now TeleCayman has taken the lead and has fibre as an option for customers.

In Cayman some businesses will not get access to fibre as the financial return will not be there to dig, trench and roll out fibre. TeleCayman’s wireless offering is available to those businesses. Fibre allows IT applications to grow because it accommodates the necessity for more bandwidth in the future. Fibre’s advantage over wireless is that it is a cheaper solution, and again offers the higher bandwidth speeds anticipated in the future. Wireless at times can be seen as a solution where there is no existing infrastructure upon which ducts, trenches etc can be built quickly enough, for example hotels in East End hotels can get wireless service, but it would not be worthwhile to build 20 miles of trenches to get there.

Does TeleCayman have customers who are up and running on its fibre network?

KPMG, a potential new customer, currently have a dedicated internet circuit which is working, but they are still in the testing phase. Their project starts to link up the network in the next few weeks and therefore we will quite rapidly move a dozen or so wireless customers onto the fibre network.

Where is TeleCayman’s fibre network currently available?

Regarding expansion, we hope to go from Camana Bay to Grand Pavillion. We may then explore the option to moving up West Bay Road and into industrial park /airport area. Perhaps similarly along Eastern Avenue to where it meets the West Bay Road.

How does fibre work with, compliment and extend TeleCayman’s existing products?

Fibre compliments our existing wireless network as wireless was not able to reach some buildings in George Town (because of blocked signals and interference to towers). Hence we get more coverage to more clients. We can provide a wireless back up to customers that take fibre.

Co-location and domestic leased circuits are the most affected by fibre – basically any customer that needs to connect from one point on or network to another gets speeds up to 1,000Mbps.

Therefore we expect customers to want to place servers at our facility and connect in an instance to their premises. We can offer to sell them space on our servers in a similar arrangement – customers could move their expensive in-house IT and server rooms to our facility. As another example, banks with multiple sites and the need to send data instantly (ATM transactions) get the benefit of the 1,000 Mbps possibility. We expect more product development in the months ahead.

How expensive is the installation of a fibre network, and what does this mean to the costs of fibre for customers?

The fibre network requires a significant capital outlay, in the multi-millions. However, once built, the ongoing maintenance costs are minimal. It last over 25 years. We saved a lot of money in our installation, and aim to offer cheaper services than that currently offered by LIME.

What does the fibre network bring to a company in terms of strengthening up business disaster plans and how robust is the infrastructure?

We can act as a secondary backup for LIME customers who currently use a cable offering (whether that is fibre or copper) – it’s a far better solution for customers to have two fibre carriers rather than a fibre and wireless solution. A hurricane is unlikely to cause any damage to the fibre network. A road eroding and exposing a trench might be a scenario but around George Town business district this is unlikely. Flooding is not perceived to be a problem as the fibre usually rests in water in the trenches anyway.