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

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23 May 2014

Chinese group Citic Telecom is reportedly in exclusive talks with Indian firm Reliance Communications over a plan to acquire a stake in the latter’s undersea cable business, the Financial Times writes, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter as saying. If realised, the equal 50/50 joint venture would value the Indian company’s cable assets at USD1 billion. It is understood that Citic Telecom beat off two rival bids from Middle East-based concerns earlier this month. Reliance Communications is sitting on a debt pile of around USD6.8 billion and has made several attempts to raise funds through the sale of stakes in its undersea cable or mobile phone tower businesses. To date though, these efforts have proven fruitless. Reliance Communications and Hong Kong-listed Citic Telecom have declined to comment on the report.

Optical transmission equipment vendor Infinera Corp has completed a multi-terabit submarine network upgrade on the Australia Japan Cable (AJC) submarine network – completing the second and final phase of the system’s deployment. Previously, in January 2014, Infinera deployed the Infinera DTN-X packet optical transport networking platform across the length of the 12,700km submarine cable network, which connects Australia, Guam and Japan. The DTN-X platform features long haul super-channels with SD-FEC based on the Photonic Integrated Circuit and the FlexCoherent Processor, supporting up to 500Gbps in a single line card. Phase two of the upgrade allows for the retirement of AJC’s original 10G transport equipment and the transfer of traffic to the more capable Infinera DTN-X platform. The AJC consortium includes a number of major international telcos, such as Telstra, AT&T, NTT, Verizon and Softbank Corp.

The US Department of Defence has awarded Texas-based Xtera Communications a USD31 million contract to build a submarine fibre-optic cable connecting the US Navy base at Guantanamo, in southeast Cuba, with South Florida. A total of eight companies bid for the contract, work on which is expected to be completed by December 2015. The project is designed to upgrade communications services at the remote naval base, which currently supports around 6,000 residents, 2,200 military and over 150 prisoners.

Indian fixed line operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has inked a deal with Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) to buy surplus bandwidth to cover the northeastern states of India. Under the deal, an initial 10Gbps of bandwidth capacity will be supplied to Agartala in Tripura, Silchar in Assam and Aizawl in Mizoram through Akhaura, west of Agartala, within the next six months. Subsequent plans envision a widening of cover to 40Gbps, to also take in other states of the northeast on a phased basis. Pricing costs for the deal, which will allow BSNL to provide faster internet speeds in the region, are yet to be fixed, but Bangladesh is likely to demand around INR15 million (USD257,000). The agreement has been signed for three years, with an option to renew or extend the contract. Bangladesh has a current high speed bandwidth of 200Gbps, but only uses around 30Gbps of this.

The government of Finland has granted funding for a new undersea data communication cable to run from Finland to Germany. In a state press release, Communications Minister Krista Kiuru said the implementation of the cable project started by the Ministry of Transport and Communications will ‘lure investments into Finland and will make the country an important concentration of international cloud business activity and a location of data centres’. The minister added that the project supported a goal to ‘develop Finland into a significant safe harbour of information, where companies and countries can safely place their critical data.’ She continued: ‘For this reason I proposed the inclusion of a definition of policy on the cable already in last year’s framework agreement, on whose basis the preparations have now been brought to a conclusion. With these kinds of actions we significantly strengthen the image of our country as a concentration of data traffic.’

Level 3 Communications has announced that it is deploying its content delivery network (CDN) nodes into Kenyan data centre facilities connecting to the SEACOM pan-African IP/MPLS network. Level 3 says that the CDN nodes will enable rich, high-quality content to be delivered directly to operators and ISPs that interconnect with SEACOM’s IP/MPLS network, and that for African end-users, this should translate into improved latency and faster speeds as they access media streaming, file downloads, web pages, music, videos, software updates and other content.

Russia’s Rostelecom has chosen China’s Huawei as the supplier of equipment and services for construction of a 1,855km submarine cable connecting the far-east Sakhalin island with Magadan (a port town on the Sea of Okhotsk) and the Kamchatka peninsula. The project, costing around RUB3 billion (USD87 million), will involve deployment of four optical fibres with maximum capacity of 8Tbps. Preliminary work is scheduled for this year, with technical readiness expected in 2015 and a predicted launch date by mid-2016.

Hawaiki Cable chief executive Remi Galasso says his company is just ‘a few weeks away’ from confirming it will go ahead with building the proposed USD300 million cable linking New Zealand and Australia to the US, reported.

Mauritania’s Mauritel has confirmed that it leased 622Mbps of internet capacity to SOTELMA in neighbouring Mali, while the agreement provides for expansion up to 1.2Gbps, as part of a strategy of leasing secure capacity to other operators in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Maghreb region.

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