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

19 Dec 2014

Spark (formerly Telecom New Zealand), Telstra of Australia and UK-based Vodafone Group, which has operations in both New Zealand and Australia, are teaming up to construct a USD70 million trans-Tasman submarine cable. Spark has said it will invest USD32 million in the Tasman Global Access Cable, which will be deployed by Alcatel-Lucent and is due to go live in mid-2016. The cable will run from Raglan on New Zealand’s North Island to Telstra’s landing station at Oxford Falls in Sydney.

Meanwhile, Telstra has confirmed that it is in talks to acquire Hong Kong-based undersea cable operator Pacnet in a deal worth as much as USD1.04 billion. Earlier this week Telstra informed the Australian Stock Exchange that it is in negotiations to acquire the company, but said there was no certainty a transaction would be realised. Pacnet’s owners, which include Ashmore Investment Management, Spinnaker Capital and Clearwater Capital Partners, are said to be working with Credit Suisse Group on the sale. Pacnet was formed in January 2008 as a result of the merger of Asia Netcom and Pacific Internet. It owns around 46,500km of submarine cable between the US and Asia. The 9,620km EAC Pacific connects the US to Japan, and the 36,800km EAC-C2C links landing points across eight countries in Asia. Pacnet also boasts 110 points of presence globally.

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has successfully completed the first phase of its upgrade to the 15,000km Europe India Gateway (EIG) submarine cable system, which connects twelve countries between Bude, UK and Mumbai, India. The cable has been upgraded with 100Gbps technology and now has a designed capacity of 8TBps. According to STC, the EIG now incorporates Ciena’s GeoMesh solution, allowing optimal, flexible control over the flow of network traffic.

Chinese telecoms vendor Huawei Technologies has reportedly secured the contract to deploy a fibre-optic network between Gabon and the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville). BizTech Africa writes that the fibre link will extend from the submarine cable landing station in Matoumbi to Pointe-Noire, Congo’s second largest city, and on to Mbinda on the Gabon border. Construction on the USD26 million project is set to commence on 22 December this year, and is expected to last around 16 months. The news site notes that Huawei beat off competing bids from the likes of Bouygues Energies and Service Congo, China International Communications Service, CMEC, Infracom-Marais and Cofely IneoGde-Suez.

More than four years after an agreement was signed between Guyana and Brazil for a fibre-optic cable to link government facilities, the project appears to have collapsed because of technical issues, Kaieteur News Online reports.

Physical works for the deployment of 560km of cable began in April 2011, but progress was promptly delayed due to poor weather conditions and the sackings of a number of contractors. While the Brazilian segment of the network has been completed by Oi SA affiliate Globonet, the Guyana leg of the cable remains incomplete. The network was supposed to leverage infrastructure belonging to the Guyana Power and Light Inc utility firm.

Mexican utility provider Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) has granted permission for telecoms regulator Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Ifetel) to assume control of its Telecomunicaciones de Mexico (Telecomm) fibre-optic communications unit, including all rights of way, towers, poles, buildings and facilities. Telecomm’s infrastructure is expected to be used to deploy a robust backbone network, which will offer wholesale connectivity to domestic telcos.

Transmode, a global supplier of packet optical networking solutions, and local partner Nera Networks have announced that Fiberail, a regional carrier’s carrier in Malaysia, has upgraded its backbone network. Fiberail’s new 100Gbps optical network provides high-capacity communications to Tier 1 and Tier 2 service providers in Malaysia. The Transmode solution reportedly increases Fiberail’s capacity and service offerings substantially, especially in the northern half of Malaysia.

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