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

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23 Jan 2015

A deal to build the trans-Caspian Sea segment of Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM), linking Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, has been agreed upon by the two countries’ governments, Vestnik Kavkaza reports. Azerbaijan’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Ali Abbasov was cited as saying that the official signing of the contract is expected to take place in H1 2015, with construction work scheduled to begin by the end of the year. As noted by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding the implementation of the TASIM system was signed in Baku, Azerbaijan in December 2013, by China Telecom (China), KazTransCom (Kazakhstan), Rostelecom (Russia), Turk Telekom (Turkey) and Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. When finalised, the backbone network will connect 20 countries via two alternative routes – Southern and Northern – stretching from Frankfurt (Germany) to Hong Kong (China).

The deployment of a new submarine cable link between New Zealand and Australia, tentatively named the Tasman Global Access (TGA), is set to commence soon, following the inking of a construction deal between the TGA consortium – comprising Spark New Zealand (formerly Telecom New Zealand), Telstra and Vodafone – and Paris-based equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent. The 2,300km direct link between Raglan (New Zealand) and Narrabeen (Australia) will incorporate three fibre pairs with a current design capacity of at least 20Tbps. The new system will provide an alternative path for trans-Tasman traffic – currently routed via Tasman-2 and Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) – and will significantly improve New Zealand’s international connectivity.

Swedish telco Tele2 has inaugurated a new 3,000km fibre-optic data network linking Tallin (Estonia) and Frankfurt (Germany), with additional nodes in Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw and Berlin. The new network, known as the Baltic Highway, was built by Tele2’s Estonian subsidiary Tele2 Eesti on high-voltage transmission lines and gas pipelines. Tele2 claims that it offers ’the first encrypted direct connection from Estonia to Central Europe’ and has a maximum capacity of 9.6Tbps. Going forward, work is underway on network extensions to Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Helsinki, which will extend the pipeline to 4,500km. The Baltic Highway project was implemented by three partners – Data Logistics Center of Lithuania, Latvenergo (Latvia) and Tele 2 Este.

The State Grid Corporation of China, the world’s largest state-owned utility, is interested in acquiring TI Sparkle, Telecom Italia‘s international arm, according to unnamed sources cited by Italian daily La Repubblica. The sources suggested that the Chinese company is attracted by the strategic potential of TI Sparkle’s undersea cable network covering Europe, Latin America and the Mediterranean. Last year the State Grid Corp acquired a 35% stake in Italian energy-grid holding company Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Reti (CDP Reti) for EUR2.1 billion (USD2.4 billion).

The Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) consortium, led by Orange Group, and its main technology partner Alcatel-Lucent have completed a field trial based on 300Gbps/400Gbps technology over the ACE system, which connects France to the west coast of Africa. Based on Alca-Lu’s 1620 Light Manager submarine line terminal, which utilises optical coherent technology, the field trial demonstrated a more than five-fold increase in the system’s initial design capability, achieving transmission of 12.6Tbps per fibre-pair. Further, the capacity upgrade is optimised through different wavelength bitrate for regional (400G) and transoceanic (300G) distances. TeleGeography notes that the 17,000km ACE high-speed cable is currently in its second-phase rollout of connectivity to additional countries on Africa’s Atlantic coast. Alca-Lu deployed equipment in the transmission room of the Cotonou (Benin) cable landing station in late-December 2014, while the cable laying ship is scheduled to reach Cotonou on 24 February 2015, and Benin will be connected to ACE on 3 March 2015, according to Alcatel-Lucent projections.

Tata Communications of India has purchased ‘significant capacity’ on the Seabras-1, the first direct subsea fibre-optic cable between New York (US) and Sao Paulo (Brazil). According to Genius Wong, senior vice president of Global Network Services at Tata, the investment will enable the seamless extension of the company’s TGN network. Seabras-1, which is being developed by Seaborn Networks, is expected to cost around USD500 million; when completed in 2016, the six fibre-pair subsea system will extend 10,400km, with a maximum upgradeable capacity of 64Tbps. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in September 2014 Seaborn sold capacity on Seabras-1 to Microsoft Corp.

Verizon Communications has deployed 100Gbps technology on its network in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, connecting these three locations and further extending the availability of 100G technology on the Verizon global network. This deployment, which used the Fujitsu Flashwave 9500 ROADM and Ciena 5430 Reconfigurable Switching System, added approximately 11,681 terrestrial and submarine miles (18,800km) to the company’s 100Gbps network. These additional miles add to the more than 32,000 100G miles already deployed on Verizon’s US network and 8,500 100G miles on its European network.

Optical transport systems developer Infinera has installed its DTN-X platform across Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Submarine Cable System’s (MENA SCS’s) trans-Egypt terrestrial network, providing multi-terabit wholesale capacity to global networks via Asia and the Middle East. The Intelligent Transport Network features a single-card 500Gbps FlexCoherent super-channel solution; by integrating dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) optical transmission and up to 12Tbps of non-blocking optical transport network (OTN) switching into a single platform, the 500Gbps super-channels provide network operators the ability to easily scale to terabits of transmission capacity. According to TeleGeography’s Submarine Cable Map, MENA, a subsidiary of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT), owns five fibre pairs on the 8,800km MENA Cable, which lands in Italy, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt and India.

In a bid to deliver the connectivity and capacity needed to support market demand for larger bandwidth applications, Telstra of Australia has commissioned 100G wavelength connectivity across multiple ultra-long haul submarine cable routes linking Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and the US, namely Asia America Gateway, Reach North Asia Loop (RNAL), Telstra Endeavour, Australia-Japan Cable (AJC) and Unity.

The Trans-Pacific Express (TPE) Cable Network consortium – consisting of NTT Communications, AT&T, China Netcom, China Telecom, China Unicom, Chungwha Telecom, KT Corp and Verizon Business – has selected US-based vendor Ciena Corp to increase the capacity on its 17,968km international submarine cable system in order to address rising bandwidth demands driven by growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Ciena is providing TPE with a multi-terabit upgrade using its GeoMesh submarine system, including its 6500 Packet-Optical Platform powered by WaveLogic 8D-2QAM modulation and Flexible Grid photonic layer, to more than triple TPE’s original 5.12Tbps capacity. The TPE fibre-optic system links Japan with mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan and the US.

Equipment vendor Ciena Corp will expand the capacity of Japan-US Cable Network’s trans-Pacific submarine system, which was originally upgraded with Ciena’s 100Gbps coherent system in 2012. The Japan-US Cable Network consortium comprises of 35 members, including global service providers CenturyLink, KDDI, NTT Communications, Softbank Telecom and Verizon. The 22,000km undersea link, which provides connectivity from Japan to the US, will be equipped with Ciena’s multi-terabit GeoMesh submarine system and its WaveLogic coherent optical processors’ capabilities, thus increasing the design capacity of the longest trans-Pacific segment by 60%, while shorter segments will utilise Ciena’s 200G 16QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) to double the capacity per wavelength. The upgrade follows a successful trial of 200G technology in February 2014.

Airtel Gabon has announced the commercial launch of a fibre-optic submarine link between the capital city of Libreville and the economic hub of Port-Gentil. The 187km submarine link, which was activated on 16 January, includes an additional 21km of terrestrial fibre. The fibre link will leverage capacity on the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable, which lands in Libreville, and Port-Gentil further down the coast. Port-Gentil, the centre of Gabon’s oil and timber industries, is technically an island, with no bridge linking it to the mainland.

East African carrier Wananchi Telecom has partnered with Epsilon, a privately owned global communications service provider, for the delivery of outsourced network services to support the growth of its wholesale telecoms business. The partnership will enable Nairobi-based Wananchi Telecom to expand the reach of its network and benefit from Epsilon’s infrastructure, network intelligence and international expertise. Epsilon has deployed a virtual point of presence (vPoP) in Telehouse East London and SmartHub in Fujairah, UAE, to allow Wananchi Telecom access to more than 500 carriers and network service providers locally and internationally.

TeliaSonera International Carrier (TSIC) has confirmed that it is teaming up with US-based collocation provider 365 Data Centers to deliver 100Gbps connectivity and data centre services in tier-2 cities Buffalo, Tampa, Nashville, St Louis, Cleveland and Indianapolis. TSIC has already installed multiple-terabit capacity at six of 365 Data Centers’ US facilities. TSIC provides worldwide connectivity by linking roughly 240 points of presence (PoPs) across Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East. Elsewhere in the US, a new carrier-neutral data centre facility focused on providing direct connectivity to international submarine cable systems has been launched by collocation provider New Jersey Fiber Exchange (NJFX), in partnership with Tata Communications. The tier-3 data centre is scheduled to go live in 2016 and will provide carriers, enterprises, carrier-neutral operators and cable companies with access to Tata’s global connectivity.

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