(CMR) The internet and telecommunications submarine cable system – MAYA-1 – was taken offline this evening from around 7:00 pm Cayman time – apparently with little advance notice.
FLOW, the incumbent telecoms provider in the Cayman Islands is the local operator of the MAYA-1 submarine cable.
Cable and Wireless (C&W) has stated there would be a minimal impact to consumers as a result of the outage. However, persons from several telecommunications companies have indicated that there could be an issue with the international connectivity into the island – in particular internet access. Apparently, all local telecommunication providers rely on the C&W controlled MAYA 1 cable and would therefore be impacted. However, one of our contacts indicated that the impact was being significantly downplayed and that they have been dealing with international circuit complaints all day.
Cayman Marl Road contacted all local providers and understand that whilst C&W appears to have known about the scheduled outage days in advance, however, no other provider was notified and only given minimal notice earlier today.
There have been calls for a long time for a back-up infrastructural system to be implemented. The MAYA-1 Cable System is a submarine cable system that runs north and south out of the Cayman Islands, it is this system that provides internet and international capacity for FLOW Cayman Islands, FLOW Jamaica and FLOW Turks and Caicos. It is one of two submarine cables that provide the Cayman Islands with international connectivity. A major two day outage in July 2013 highlighted the possible vulnerabilities to the cable system – not just for the Cayman Islands but the entire Caribbean.
For countries with only one submarine cable, they do not have any redundancy or back up, should it fail. Further, should there be no comprehensive satellite or other wireless systems that can provide international connectivity, these countries inherently would be cut off from the international world.
On the other hand, for countries with two separate submarines cables systems, such as the Cayman Islands, some redundancy might be available. However, should one of those cable systems fail, factors such as: the amount of unused capacity available; the relationship between the submarine cable operators; and the existing physical connection between to the two cable systems, could have an impact on the extent to which traffic from one submarine cable system can be seamlessly transferred to another. Source
The MAYA-1 connects seven countries: the United States, Mexico, Honduras, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia, and is owned by a consortium of telecoms companies that includes Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), Verizon Business, AT&T, Sprint.