Last year was a stellar one for Bermuda’s positioning in the global array of telecommunications service providers. From home and work, across global terrestrial networks, to undersea cables and satellite laser communications, Bermuda’s telco landscape is developing well.
Not only did Google announce that Nuvem, its new transatlantic subsea cable system, will be built to connect the United States and Portugal, but it also announced that Nuvem would be routed through a communications hub to be built in Bermuda.
In effect, Bermuda has become a very welcoming de facto partner in Google’s long-term objective of attracting communications infrastructure and services to these shores as a point of efficient intersection to serve that emerging digital highway.
As well, you may have seen the recent announcement by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that it has “laser light” beamed an ultra-high bandwidth video from Nasa’s Psyche craft, now in deep space on its way to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, back to Earth — a record setting 101-second transmission from 19 million miles away.
As that advanced communications technology was being demonstrated by Nasa, a Bermuda company, Laser Light Holdings, was busy building out a transformational global network and optical “global Data as a Service” solution.
That solution will be delivered through a hybrid terrestrial and non-terrestrial infrastructure that is comprised of integrated land, subsea and optical (laser) satellite domains to connect companies, countries and continents at high speed, securely and more economically than has previously been possible.
A British subsidiary of that Bermuda company recently announced that it had selected Dover in Kent, England, to establish a development facility known as The Halo Centre, one of five such advanced laser communications development and operating analytics facilities to be established around the world.
In 2023, it was also impossible not to notice the arrival of Paradise Mobile, bringing with it to Bermuda a robust 5G network. Having reportedly built a greenfield communications network for its mobile communication services, last year saw the beta launch of those services as it continues to develop and strengthen that infrastructure with the assistance of several international commercial and technical partners, including Thales mobile connectivity solutions.
Cesar Cabarcos, the head of partnerships and roaming for Paradise Mobile, was recently quoted that his company had plans “…to create the world’s fastest commercial mobile network and help turn Bermuda into the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean”.
Even with all of that activity for Bermuda’s recent telecommunications entrants, the local incumbents have not been resting on their laurels.
Last week Digicel announced that it had financially restructured its business through an agreement with its bondholders to reduce the group’s consolidated debt by approximately $1.7 billion, as well as reducing its annual cash interest expense by approximately $120 million.
Leading up to that financial restructuring, Digicel had reportedly told its Bermuda regulator that those arrangements will improve its financial viability to further invest in network, infrastructure and technology upgrades in Bermuda.
As well, One Communications has recently invested in upgrading subsea infrastructure to expand its capacity to meet future demand in Bermuda. They are also investing in next generation cloud and cybersecurity services available to Bermudian-based customers that will be fully integrated with premium international and fibre networks.
All of those advances are very welcomed and serve as a promising vote of confidence for the future of Bermuda’s telco sector.
First Published in The Royal Gazette, Legally Speaking column, February 2024
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Duncan Card Partner, Appleby