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

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13 Feb 2015

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has given the green light to the proposed Tasman Global Access (TGA) submarine cable link between New Zealand and Australia, following an analysis of the ‘competition implications’, reports. The anti-trust regulator started its review of the proposed submarine link in December 2014, noting that one of the members of the TGA consortium – Spark New Zealand (formerly Telecom New Zealand) – is also a shareholder in the existing Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) subsea system. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, 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 SCCN – and will significantly improve New Zealand’s international connectivity.

Meanwhile, Auckland-based Hawaiki Cable Limited has conceded that it has taken longer than expected to secure the USD300 million needed for the deployment of its proposed trans-Pacific Hawaiki Submarine Cable System, which will link Oregon (US), Whangarei (New Zealand) and Sydney (Australia), writes. Hawaiki Cable’s chief financial officer Laurent Le Breton is understood to have relocated to Auckland to finalise funding negotiations. Last year, Wellington-based Todd Corporation, which has interests in oil, gas, energy and property, has been linked to a potential investment in the subsea system. In related news, American Samoa is said to be examining its options for connecting to the Hawaiki Cable, as the country is looking into ways to replace the territory’s ‘aging’ fibre-optic links, Radio New Zealand reports. Alternatively, American Samoa’s economic development task force – the American Samoa Economic Development Implementation Plan – has suggested that neighbouring Samoa should be approached ahead of the deployment of a new cable link between the two countries.

Agner N. Mark, chairman of TELE Greenland, has revealed that the incumbent operator is committed to expanding the country’s sole submarine cable link, Greenland Connect, to the north of the country in 2015-16. TELE has earmarked approximately DKK20 million (USD3.07 million) to fund the Greenland Connect Nord project, which will link Nuuk, Maniitsoq, Sisimiut, Aasiaat and Qasigiannguit. TeleGeography notes that TELE commissioned Canadian company IT Telecom to investigate the possibility of deploying a submarine cable link to the north of the country back in May 2014.

Talks between Reliance Communications (RCOM) of India and China’s CITIC Telecom International with regards to the latter’s acquisition of RCOM’s submarine unit, Global Cloud Xchange (GCX, previously known as Reliance Globalcom), have stalled, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Objections from CITIC’s new chief executive officer Lin Zhenhui have been cited as the main reason behind the change of heart, with the new executive said to be reluctant to pursue a deal so early in his tenure. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, RCOM has been looking to offload its cable arm since 2012 to help cut its debt, with an initial public offering (IPO) falling through in July 2012 due to unfavourable market conditions. In August 2014 it emerged that CITIC was looking into acquiring GCX’s submarine operations for up to USD500 million. Previously, negotiations with potential buyers such as Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) and a consortium of private equity firms led by Samena Capital amounted to nothing.

Nigeria’s National Broadband Council is reportedly mulling the potential expansion of the country’s submarine landing points beyond Lagos, local newspaper The Guardian writes. Close to USD3.5 billion has already been invested in landing a number of submarine systems on Nigeria’s shores, including SAT-3/WASC, Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), Main One and GLO-1. However, due to the assessed strategic importance of the facilities, the council is now said to be eyeing other coastal states, with Port Harcourt, Cross River and Ondo named as potential landing points.

Nepal Telecom is planning a second trans-border fibre connection with China to supplement the existing Tatopani fibre link, which was deployed in 2010/11. The Nepal-China trans-border connectivity project, which will connect Nepal’s northern neighbour via Rasuwagadhi, is reportedly in the final phase of rollout and will ultimately harness the benefits of the transit route service that is expected to be completed soon. The Nepal-China fibre-optic link will allow Nepal Telecom to interconnect with counterpart China Telecom, providing both parties with the ability to transfer or receive voice and data traffic to and from China and from other parts of the world.

Botswana’s state-owned communications infrastructure firm Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) is carrying out three fibre-optic expansion projects in 2015, according to the new Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo. BiztechAfrica writes that the projects involve the deployment of fibre networks between Maun and Ngoma, Sehithwa and Mohembo, and between Sekoma and Tsabong. The new rollouts are expected to increase the total length of the fibre-optic infrastructure managed and operated by BoFiNet from 6,000km to 7,000km.

Finally, Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) has announced plans to deploy a national fibre-optic backbone network connecting 180 district capitals. Local media reports have cited senior MTC official Juan Carlos Mejia as saying that the project will require investment of USD333 million and will be completed in six phases. The contract for the first phase of deployment will be awarded on 17 March this year, while the last one will be awarded in June 2016. Once completed, the network will revert to state ownership rather than being held by the company licensed for the actual deployment.

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