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

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1 Aug 2014

China’s CITIC Telecom International is planning to acquire Reliance Communications’ (RCOM’s) submarine cable unit, Global Cloud Xchange (GCX, previously known as Reliance Globalcom), for up to USD1 billion. According to CNBC, CITIC is only looking to snap up the company’s subsea operations and has no interest in GCX’s voice business. RCOM has been looking to offload its cable arm since 2012 to help cut its debt, but has so far been unsuccessful, with an initial public offering (IPO) falling through in July 2012 due to unfavourable market conditions. Elsewhere, negotiations with potential buyers such as Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) and a consortium of private equity firms led by Samena Capital amounted to nothing.

MTN Cameroon has transferred ownership of the West Africa Cable System (WACS) submarine cable landing station in Limbe to the State of Cameroon. The deed of transfer was signed in Yaounde by MTN Cameroon CEO Karl O Toriola, on behalf of the MTN Group, and Jean-Pierre Biyiti Bi Essam, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, for Cameroon.

Apollo Submarine Cable System and Alcatel-Lucent have successfully completed a field trial on the existing Apollo South submarine system between France and the United States, achieving transmission speeds of 7.2Tbps per fibre pair. The trial, which utilised the vendor’s advanced optical coherent technology, demonstrated a nine-fold increase on the system’s original design capability, setting a new capacity record for an upgrade project. The trial follows the recent confirmation that both Apollo South and sister cable Apollo North – which connects the US to the UK to the US – have been upgraded to support 100Gbps transmission.

The Shetland Islands, which are located 80km to the north-east of Orkney, Scotland and 280km south-east of the Faroe Islands have suffered a telecoms outage following a serious break in the SHEFA-2 submarine cable. SHEFA-2, which was certified ready for service (RFS) in March 2008, runs from Torshavn in the Faroe Islands to Maywick in Shetland, then from Sandwick in Shetland onwards to Ayre of Cara in Orkney, and from Manse Bay in Orkney to Banff in Aberdeenshire, on mainland Scotland. During the outage, Shetland Telecom’s traffic was diverted via the FARICE-1 cable.

The Okinawa Prefectural Government has selected Tokyo-based NTT Communications to install an international submarine cable link connecting Okinawa to other parts of Asia, including Hong Kong and Singapore. Construction on the project will officially commence next autumn. According to TeleGeography’s, three international submarine cables currently land in Okinawa: China-US Cable Network (CHUS), Guam Okinawa Kyushu Incheon (GOKI) and SEA-ME-WE-3.

Alcatel-Lucent has revealed that it plans to spin off its Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks unit, and seeks to stage an initial public offering (IPO) in 1H15. Alca-Lu intends to retain a majority stake in the new entity, which will use its public capitalisation to fund its current telecom-related operations, as well as its expansion into services and equipment for the oil and gas industry.

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