Data Center POST Interview with Stephen Scott, CEO, Deep Blue Cable
By Contributing Editor, Kathy Xu
Before joining Deep Blue Cable as CEO, Stephen Scott held senior executive positions with Global Marine Systems, PSiNet Europe, Sentrum Data Centres and Global Switch. During a telecoms career that now spans 25-plus years, Stephen also spent 10 years as COO at Bridgehouse Capital, gaining significant private equity experience while participating in multiple sector acquisitions, restructures and company sales. Based in St. Lucia, Deep Blue Cable is the developer of a state-of-the art, subsea fiber-optic system that will provide connectivity across the Caribbean islands and to the United States.
Data Center POST recently sat down with Stephen to discuss the current challenges facing the subsea cable industry, advancements in submarine network technology and the current status of the Deep Blue cable system. Stephen also addressed his company’s upcoming attendance at International Telecoms Week (ITW) 2018, taking place May 6-8 in Chicago.
Data Center POST, Kathy Xu (DCP-KX) Question: What challenges does the subsea industry face as we head to the middle of 2018 and beyond?
Deep Blue Cable, Steve Scott (DBC-SS) Answer: To address the Caribbean, bandwidth demand is expected to increase and exceed 35 percent growth annually to 2025. However, the existing subsea infrastructure is not sufficient to meet the forecast demand. Moreover, some of the region’s primary undersea cable links have already exceeded their planned technical lifespan of 20 years. The advantages of Deep Blue’s cable over these older systems include significantly higher design capacity, lower unit costs, lower latency through direct connectivity, and the ability to leverage advancements in reliability, including improved route planning and installation techniques.
DCP-KX Q: What broad trends do you see affecting the subsea cable industry in the near and mid-term?
DBC-SS A: As globalisation continues to reach emerging economies, we’re likely to see new investments in regional submarine cable systems and extensions of existing subsea networks. Many of the larger subsea cables owned by Over-the-Top providers will provide opportunities for a degree of convergence between the transoceanic and regional markets. Hence, even if the OTTs are not investing in smaller regions, they are indirectly facilitating broader global connectivity.
DCP-KX Q: What technologies do you see shaping the subsea cable industry and how?
DBC-SS A: Advancements in new undersea Reconfigurable Optical Add-Drop Multiplexer (ROADM) technology, higher-fiber count cables, and the ability to transmit huge capacities over longer distances will have significant impact on both regional and transoceanic subsea cable networks.
DCP-KX Q: How important is Software-Defined Networking (SDN) for the subsea cable industry?
DBC-SS A: Increasingly, subsea cable providers are leveraging the benefits of SDN, which transforms the network to be more programmable and consequently enhances its agility and flexibility. SDN technology also connects the data center directly with the submarine cable, which is then connected to metro-based network. The new architecture is thus more open and more integrated with the terrestrial network.
DCP-KX Q: What obstacles are inhibiting growth in the subsea cable industry and how are these challenges solved?
DBC-SS A: To return to the current challenges facing the Caribbean, many island-based companies are locked into decades-old agreements with consortium model cable systems that favour the operator and there has been no new pan-regional fibre-optic deployment in the last ten years. Compounding this, the price of Caribbean capacity is at least 12 times more expensive than transatlantic capacity, six times more expensive than transpacific capacity, and 2.5 times more expensive than capacity between the United States and Brazil.
Infrastructure growth requires more reliable and resilient connectivity which will fortify business opportunities within and serving the Caribbean. By ensuring competitive pricing and resilience through alternative supply, the Deep Blue cable will provide connectivity to international and regional telecommunications operators, regional network providers, OTT providers, data centres, government, and large enterprises.
Alternative subsea networks won’t necessarily mean that prices will go down. However, opening the market to competition provides options that enable business growth opportunities to improve communications and make connectivity more cost-effective for Caribbean-based and multinational businesses, island residents and visitors alike.
DCP-KX Q: What are new developments and initiatives that are exciting for your company in 2018?
DBC-SS A: Route survey activities for Deep Blue’s pan-Caribbean undersea cable have commenced, with manufacturing and installation continuing through 2018 and into 2019. Deep Blue has now completed all terrestrial cable landing surveys and is working to engage landing parties on many of the islands. Initial business enquiries in the Deep Blue subsea network are strong, and we will continue to engage with organisations interested in significant capacity or fibre purchases.
The projected Ready for Service date of the Deep Blue subsea cable system is Q2 2020.
The network will offer an initial capacity of 6 Tbps per fibre pair, which ultimately may be upgraded to 20 Tbps per fibre pair over the life of the system.
DCP-KX Q: Why is ITW such an important industry event for you and your company?
DBC-SS A: ITW is where the wholesale global telecom community meets to discover business opportunities, stay abreast with cutting-edge technologies, and meet new and long-time friends.
DCP-KX: Thank you for your time today, Stephen, and we wish Deep Blue Cable the best of luck at ITW. For more information about Deep Blue Cable, visit www.deepbluecable.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To request a meeting with Deep Blue Cable at ITW, click here.