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

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17 Oct 2014

Google has announced its involvement in an undersea cable that will link the United States and Brazil by the end of 2016. The search engine giant will partner with Brazilian ISP Algar Telecom, Uruguayan incumbent telco ANTEL and the Angola Cables consortium. The cable will be capable of carrying a total of 64Tbps of capacity over six fibre pairs. This announcement marks the second time this year that Google has confirmed its involvement in building a major submarine cable system. In August 2014 Google and five carriers from Asia unveiled plans for the FASTER cable. FASTER is slated to connect the West Coast of the US to Japan in Q2 2016. The search engine had previously served as a primary investor in two other submarine cable systems, one connecting across the Pacific, and one linking a number of countries in south-east Asia.

Meanwhile, the Angola Cables group also aims to link the new Google-backed US-Brazil cable to its planned South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) to connect Brazil to Africa by a target date of end-2016. Speaking to journalists at Futurecom 2014, Antonio Nunes, CEO of Angola Cables, clarified that the USD160 million SACS deployment is starting ‘in around a month’, while confirming that investment in construction would be handled by Angola Cables alone after Brazilian telco Telebras dropped out. In total, Angola Cables is investing about USD270 million in the US/Brazil cable project, the SACS cable and building a combined data centre/landing point in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Digicel Guyana is expected to receive formal approval to land its own fibre-optic submarine cable in the country. The Stabroek News reports that last week, the country’s former president Bharrat Jagdeo signalled that the government had granted permission to the pan-Caribbean telco company, telling a conference: ‘Now Digicel has applied to bring in another cable and I think the government has given them permission.’ However, when questioned about the status of its approval, Digicel Guyana CEO Gregory Dean said it was ‘a question for the government’. While the precise details remain unclear, it seems likely that the connection will be a spur from one of Digicel’s existing submarine cables in the region. On 12 September Digicel Group announced that it had received the required approvals from government and regulatory authorities with regard to its purchase of extensive submarine fibre assets across the Caribbean region from the Guadeloupe-based Loret Group and Caribbean Fibre Holdings. In total, Digicel has secured access to a robust network comprising 15 submarine segments with a reach of some 3,100km. Guyana’s sole submarine connection to date is the Suriname-Guyana Submarine Cable System (SG-SCS), which is co-owned by Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) and Telesur.

The 16-member consortium behind the Europe India Gateway (EIG) submarine cable system has reported that Ciena has completed the first phase of its 100Gbps upgrade, and commenced work on the second phase of the project. Ciena is supplying optical transport equipment based on its GeoMesh undersea cable portfolio, as well as retaining the responsibility for project management, and integration. The 15,000km EIG runs from the UK to India, connecting twelve countries across three continents. The first phase of the 100G upgrade witnessed the installation of the Ciena 6500 packet-optical transport system on the link between the UK and Djibouti, while the second stage will introduce 100G connectivity through to India.

Laotian state utility Electricite Du Laos (EDL), local telco Sky Telecom and Thai electricity firm EGAT International have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) allowing them to study the feasibility of collaborating on a cross-border fibre-optic cable deployment, which will make use of electricity equipment owned by EDL and EGAT. The MoU was signed in the Laos capital Vientiane this week, with a number of company representatives and government officials in attendance.

Argentina’s under-deployment Federal Fibre-Optic Network has connected 1,800 localities across the country, with a total of 30,000km of fibre deployed to date across all 23 provinces. Under the ‘Argentina Conectada’ plan, the government aims to deploy a total of 80,000km worth of fibre to underserved areas.

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