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

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31 Oct 2014

Romeo Montenegro, the director of investment for the Philippines Mindanao Development Authority has divulged details on a proposed new regional submarine cable, which he says will boost the island of Mindanao’s position an ICT hub. The 5,092km Brunei-Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines Submarine Terrestrial (BEST) cable system is expected to deliver onwards connectivity to Guam and the United States. BEST will have an initial capacity of 2.4Tbps and is expected to be ready for service in 2018.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted a cable landing licence to Emerald Networks Holding Limited (Emerald) for its planned transatlantic submarine cable, the Emerald Express Cable Network. The cable will directly link Shirley, New York (US) with Molvik, Iceland and Kilalla Bay, Ireland. In the US, the cable will land at an existing AT&T-owned facility, while Emerald intends to construct and operate new landing stations in both Ireland and Iceland. An Irish corporation, Emerald is majority-owned subsidiary of UAE-based Aqua Ventures International, which controls more than 70% of the company. The sole, indirect owner of Aqua Ventures is Christopher Paul Bake, a Dutch citizen.

The Solomons Oceanic Cable Company (SOCC) has revealed that it expects to have a trio of inter-island submarine cable links up and running by March 2016. The three-pronged deployment will involve a connection to capital Honiara – ahead of a planned international link – with further connections to Auki in Malaita Province and Noro in Western Province. Radio New Zealand International quotes SOCC CEO Robin Russell as saying that around ten major international vendors have registered their interest in the tender, with bidding set to close on 12 December. Construction work has been earmarked to start in March 2015, and the project has been valued at around USD70 million. The Solomon Islands National Provident Fund and Our Telekom are bankrolling the initiative, with additional funding coming from the Asian Development Bank.

Australia’s Megaport has announced a demerger, spinning-off its fibre assets to launch a new dedicated infrastructure company called Superloop; its initial network is expected to go live in Australia in January 2015. Superloop says its mission is to drive innovation to the fibre infrastructure layer in key Asia-Pacific regions, with the company expecting to have a network of dark fibre options between Global Switch and Equinix facilities in Sydney and Melbourne, and the Australian network of NextDC data centres by January 2015. Singapore will also be a key focus, with Megaport securing 150km of duct throughout the city-state, and expects services to be available there by July. Company founder Bevan Slattery commented: ‘We are building the only independent, pan-Asian fibre infrastructure provider which is something rather special and unique, so much so that based upon early customer demand I expect Superloop to be break even in its first full year of operation.’

The World Bank-funded Central African Backbone (CAB) programme, may run out of money before it is completed, according to a government report originating from the Republic of Congo. The evaluation document states that 53 of the 66 planned CAB deployments have been completed satisfactorily, but a budget review is necessary to prevent funds from being exhausted before the overall programme is concluded. Around 25% of the budget has been spent on the mostly small-scale rollouts to date, and the Brazzaville authorities are unsure as to whether the remaining budget will be sufficient to cover the major work that is still outstanding.

Liquid Telecom Group has announced UGX2 billion (USD729,376) of investment in its Ugandan subsidiary Infocom Uganda, to extend its pan-African fibre cable infrastructure across Kampala’s Central Business District (CBD) and to multiple rural towns, including Mukono, Jinja, Masaka, and Mbarara.

The government of Malta is in the process of issuing a tender for a feasibility study into the deployment of a fibre-optic submarine cable linking the mainland to the Mediterranean archipelago of Gozo, the Times of Malta reports. The information was revealed by investment minister Chris Cardona during a parliamentary question time.

Pacnet has officially opened its new data centre in Tianjin, China (TJCS1) to address the growing demand for data centre and managed services in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. The facility is strategically located in the Gaocun Science & Technology Innovation Park of the Tianjin Wuqing District in China.

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