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

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3 Oct 2014

Sweden’s EQT Infrastructure II Fund has agreed to acquire a majority shareholding in IslaLink Submarine Cables, an independent and neutral operator of fibre-optic submarine cables in and around Spain. IslaLink will be acquired, through a series of transactions, from an investment entity related to the Cube Infrastructure Fund, and from its founders Alfonso Gajate and Ross Mullins. The founders and the current management team will remain with the company, EQT has noted. IslaLink, which was founded in 1999, owns and operates one of the main fibre-optic cables connecting the Balearic Islands to mainland Spain and manages international IP traffic for customers such as Algerie Telecom.

Russian telco Vimpelcom (Beeline) has announced the completion of its 9,900km Eurasian backbone route. The infrastructure links Frankfurt with Khorog (Tajikistan), traversing parts of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Kazakhstan and China. The project was carried out in cooperation with China Telecom and TNS-Plus.

According to a document filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the relevant parties have applied to transfer control of the cable landing licence for the Hibernia Atlantic Cable System from Columbia Ventures Corporation (CVC) to Murosa Development. Luxembourg-based Murosa is a wholly-owned subsidiary of KCK-FHN Ltd, a Cayman Islands company, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of British Virgin Islands-registered KCK Ltd. At the end of Stage Three of the elaborate transaction, CVC – which is 100% owned by Kenneth Peterson, a US citizen – will hold a 49% stake in the licence, while Murosa will hold the remaining 51%. The Hibernia Atlantic Cable System is a non-common carrier fibre-optic system linking the continental US, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

According to the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable will be back up and running from today (3 October), following a cable cut that occurred earlier this month. The severed cable reduced service provider internet connectivity between Vietnam, Hong Kong and the US by about 40%. A similar break occurred on 16 July. Local press reports later revealed that another cut was identified 4km away from the earlier break – around 68km from Hong Kong’s coast – but this was repaired immediately after engineers finished welding the first one. The repair task will officially finish on 5 October.

Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) has won a battle in the Supreme Court of Appeal against the Msunduzi Municipality, the company has announced. The case was filed by Msunduzi Municipality against DFA in February 2014, after the company began constructing the initial phase of a fibre-optic network on behalf of the South African government. Tshego Distshego, DFA’s executive for brand and communications, commented: ‘This ruling is not only a win for Dark Fibre Africa but for the industry as a whole and we hope that it will enable more beneficial engagement between telecommunications operators and the various municipalities across South Africa in future. We have and will continue to engage with the local municipality on the practical matters related to building our network in the Msunduzi municipality.’ DFA is a privately owned company that builds, operates, and maintains a carrier-neutral fibre-optic infrastructure.

And finally, equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent has reiterated plans to float its Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks unit in the first half of 2015, adding that the exact timing would depend on market conditions. Alca-Lu, which first revealed its plans for an IPO of the business in July, said at the time it aimed to keep a majority stake in the division to help it develop in the oil and gas services market. This week CEO Michel Combes told Reuters that the Paris-based company will detail its technology strategy to 2020 in November; he was speaking during the inauguration of a research hub south of Paris.

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