Cable compendium: a guide to the week’s submarine and terrestrial developments

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17 Jan 2014

The USD30 million Interchange Cable Network (ICN), linking Port Vila, Vanuatu to Suva, Fiji has been declared ready for commercial service from today. In Fiji, the 1,230km system will link directly into the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) which connects Sydney, Australia to Hawaii. The ICN represents the second Pacific cable system to be landed at FINTEL’s Vatuwaqa Communications Gateway, following the USD34 million Fiji-Tonga Submarine Cable, which launched in August 2013.

Brazil’s state-owned telecoms provider Telebras has announced plans to form a joint venture with Spain’s IslaLink Submarine Cables to lay and operate an undersea cable linking Brazil and Europe, with work set to begin in the first half of this year. The USD185 million project is expected to be completed within 18 months. Telebras has indicated that its board of directors has approved a preliminary accord to create the joint venture, in which the Brazilian company will hold a 35% stake; IslaLink will have a 45% interest while investment funds will hold the remaining 20%.

Separately, Telebras, Silica Argentina and Silica Chile have agreed to form a partnership to build, operate and maintain a fibre-optic network that will link the Brazilian city of Uruguaiana with Chile’s Pacific coast via the Argentine city of Paso de los Libres. Silica Argentina and Silica Chile manage high-capacity networks that link the Chilean cities of Santiago and Osorno with the Argentine cities of Mendoza, Cordoba, Rosario, Buenos Aires, Bahia Blanca, Neuquen, Bariloche and Paso de los Libres. Telebras, in turn, operates a nationwide fibre-optic backbone that spans 25,000km.

Ocean Networks, the owner and developer of the South America Pacific Link (SAPL) submarine cable system, has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Xtera Communications for the turnkey supply and installation of the SAPL submarine cable system. The planned 9,400km trans-Pacific cable seeks to link Manta, Ecuador to Oahu, Hawaii, and is scheduled for completion in mid-2016.

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) has completed the installation of a 150km fibre link connecting the island of Bohol with major network centres in Visayas and Mindanao, providing a much needed boost to the earthquake-hit province. The northern link stretches almost 53km from Mactan, Cebu to Loon, Bohol while the southern segment runs over 97km from Garcia Hernandez, Bohol to Kinoguitan, Misamis Oriental. These links will be connected to PLDT’s Domestic Fiber Optic Network (DFON) via inland fibre optic cables to Jones, Cebu in the north and to Cagayan De Oro in the southern Philippines.

BICS, a global provider of wholesale carrier services, has announced Hurricane Electric, which claims to own the ‘world’s largest IPv6-native internet backbone’, has signed an agreement to use the BICS Pan European Network (PEN) 2.0 system to connect major European cities. BICS’ 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) network will enable Hurricane Electric to meet growing bandwidth requirements whilst keeping operating expenses down. Hurricane Electric is connected to 75 major exchange points and exchanges traffic directly with more than 3,200 different networks. BICS owns and operates 9,000km of fibre in Europe with a cable landing station in Marseille accessing the Europe India Gateway (EIG) and SEA-ME-WE 4 submarine cable systems.

BT Group has awarded Global Marine Systems the marine engineering contract for the Scottish Highlands and Islands subsea cable project. The contract includes subsea cable route design, marine survey, cable supply and subsequent installation. The work forms part of the GBP146 million (USD239.5 million) investment project launched with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) last year to bring high-speed fibre broadband to communities across the north of Scotland. The subsea network has been described as the UK’s most challenging and complex broadband project ever, and means that around 84% of Highlands and Islands homes and businesses will have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2016.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and Seaborn Networks Holdings have announced that IFC is now an investor in Seaborn Networks. Funds raised by Seaborn will be used for Seabras-1, the company’s new 40Tbps Brazil-US submarine cable project, which is scheduled for completion in 2015.

The Southern Cross Cable Network has unveiled it aims to utilise the WaveLogic 3 platform from Ciena to add an additional 500Gbps to its two trans-Pacific cables by July 2014. According to Fiona Beck, Southern Cross president and CEO, the expansion is the company’s largest to date, increasing its total lit capacity across the two cables from 2.6Tbps to 3.6Tbps.

Emerald Networks, a new-build submarine cable system that aims to connect North America to Europe and Iceland, has announced Killala Bay in County Mayo, Ireland as its landing site. The company has been working with Mayo County Council and Government agencies over the past three years researching a variety of potential submarine cable landing locations on the Mayo coastline.

Network specialist Ciena and Pacnet have announced the completion of an upgrade to the company’s trans-Pacific link connecting the US West Coast to Japan. In related news, Pacnet has announced the opening of a new USD90 million Tier-III data centre in Singapore, dubbed Singapore CloudSpace II (SGCS2). The 155,000 square feet facility will serve multinational companies and local businesses, providing connectivity to Pacnet’s 46,000km of regional undersea cable systems.

Authorities in Finland have reportedly rejected appeals by TeliaSonera International Carrier (TSIC) to help back a major fibre-optic cable from St Petersburg, Russia, alongside a second cable connecting Finland to Poland and Germany via the Baltic states. According to local press reports, the Finnish government has instead set its sights on an alternative undersea cable link to Germany, which it hopes will cost around EUR100 million (USD136.1 million), a mere fraction of the budget of TeliaSonera’s projected cable.