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

1 May 2015

Algeria’s Ministry of Posts, IT and Communications (MPTIC) and equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent have signed a turnkey agreement for the construction of a 560km fibre-optic undersea cable linking Oran in Algeria to Valencia in Spain. Dubbed Orval, the 100Gbps system, which is expected to be ready for service (RFS) in 2016, will deliver an ultimate design capacity of 20Tbps. Alca-Lu will be the lead contractor in charge of designing and manufacturing the system in association with IT Marine which will be responsible for marine operations. MPITC’s general secretary Abdelhak Benkrid commented: ‘Broadband access is a fundamental contributor to both businesses and consumers. The Orval network represents a strategic technology investment that will strengthen access to high-quality network services.’

Construction work on the Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS), which will stretch from Jacksonville, Florida to Manta in Ecuador, is reportedly close to completion, with the system set to be RFS next week, the Latin American Herald Tribune writes. Guillermo Canete, technological planning and transmission manager for consortium member Telefonica, was cited as saying that the PCCS system will be ‘one of longest ever laid in the Caribbean’, spanning some 6,000km with a design capacity of 80Tbps. He commented: ‘Offering this new cable means … greatly expanding connectivity guarantees, both in the immediate present and in the future, when much more transmission capacity than we can currently imagine may be required. Ultimately, it means more options, more competition, better quality and lower prices.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the PCCS cable consortium – including Telconet, Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), Setar of Aruba, Telefonica Global Solutions and United Telecommunication Services (UTS) of Curacao – signed a turnkey contract with Alcatel-Lucent to deploy the 100Gbps-per-wavelenth submarine system back in December 2012.

The state of Bangladesh is set to earn USD1.2 million annually by exporting unused internet bandwidth to India, following the inking of a deal between state-owned Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) and Indian telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for the supply of 10Gbps of bandwidth to India’s north-eastern states for three years, the Financial Express reports. Bangladesh’s cabinet secretary Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that the BSCCL currently has a total bandwidth capacity of 200Gbps on the SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable system, although just 20Gbps is used to address the country’s broadband needs. The country’s bandwidth will increase to 1,500Gbps when the construction of the proposed SEA-ME-WE-5 cable is completed in December 2016. The new deal with India meanwhile, will increase the country’s export capacity to 40Mbps, while 160Gbps of bandwidth will remain unutilised. The cable will stretch from Cox’s Bazar landing station (Bangladesh) to Agartala, located in India’s state of Tripura, via Akhaura (Brahmmanbaria District). The cabinet secretary disclosed that that the fibre link between Cox’s Bazar to Akhaura is already operational, while an as-yet-unnamed Indian company will be tasked with the construction of the cable link from Akhaura to Agartala.

The Lagos State government is reportedly working on the deployment of a metro backbone network to interconnect all submarine cables landing on its shores – including international subsea systems SAT-3/WASC, Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne and GLO-1 – with other states, according to Abdulahmed Mustapha, director-general of Lagos State Financial Systems Management Bureau. The Nigeria Guardian News cites the official as saying: ‘Today, there are about seven submarine cables on the shores of Lagos. The operators have had the challenge of distributing these capacities within and outside the state. What the current government is doing, which will be consolidated in the new regime, is to get the cable operators together and help them to build an efficient metro backbone facility, where everybody will plug in and be able to distribute capacities seamlessly.’ Further, Mr Mustapha disclosed that the state has already given MainOne free Right of Way (RoW) permission to deploy fibre-optic infrastructure along the Herbert Macaulay Road up to Jibowu Street.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Republic of Congo-based Congo Telecom and Societe Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications (SCPT) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will see the two countries’ respective capital cities – Brazzaville and Kinshasa – interconnected by a fibre-optic network, Agence Ecofin reports. ‘This fibre-optic link will interconnect the telecoms networks installed in our two countries, in order to exchange large streams of voice traffic and data under the supervision of our two incumbents,’ Congo Telecom’s general administrator, Akouala Akoula, disclosed. The new network will reportedly safeguard against prevent technical failures between the landing stations in Kinshasa (DRC) and Pointe Noire (Republic of Congo).

Russian national operator Rostelecom is considering deploying fibre-optic infrastructure to connect the country to the Kuril Islands, ComNews.ru reports. The 600km link is expected to reach the islands of Iturup, Kunashir and Shikotan. The project is likely to be carried out as a public-private partnership (PPP), given the lack of available state funding. The Kuril Islands, which are technically situated in Sakhalin Oblast, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately 1,300km north-east from Hokkaido, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean.

German-based Hetzner Online is planning to invest an undisclosed sum in a 1,100km submarine cable, aiming to connect Rostock in the north German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to Finland’s capital Helsinki. The fibre-optic link is expected to be RFS in the spring of 2016 and will provide total transmission capacity of 15Tbps when completed.

US fibre provider Lightower Fiber Networks has agreed to acquire Fibertech Networks in a USD1.9 billion deal, with the combined company set to own and operate fibre-optic networks throughout the North-east, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions of the US. The all-cash deal will be financed with debt and equity investments from several of Lightower’s financial backers, including Berkshire Partners, Pamlico Capital, and ABRY Partners, and is expected to close in Q3 2015. The acquisition will expand Lightower’s network to more than 30,000 miles of fibre-optic infrastructure and nearly 5,000 wireless towers, in addition to 13,000 on-net service locations, commercial buildings, data centres, financial exchanges and content hubs. TeleGeography notes that in recent years Lightower has taken over a number of smaller fibre-optic infrastructure providers, including Veroxity Technology Partners (May 2010) and ColocationZone (March 2015), though the service provider made its largest acquisition in 2013 when it purchased Sidera Networks for USD2 billion.

A new fracture of the Asia America Gateway (AAG) undersea cable, which connects south-east Asia and the United States, has been reported by the system’s management, VietnamNet.vn writes. The breakdown was located in the S1H component of the cable, which connects Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in early January, a fracture was reported in the same segment of the AAG cable, roughly 117km from the landing station in Vung Tau, Vietnam. The 20,000km AAG cable system has been repaired three times in the last year – in January, July and September 2014, with the cable’s poor technical design previously cited as a factor in its repeated breaks.

The Guyanese government has signed a cost-free deal for the repair and maintenance of its fibre-optic backbone network, Kaieteur News writes. The backbone network, which interconnects with Brazilian infrastructure at the two countries’ shared border, forms part of the state’s disastrous e-government project and, despite having cost the country an estimated USD40 million over the last four years, remains offline. In an effort to finally make use of the network, the government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a local contractor, Dax Engineering, under which Dax will be allocated a portion of the cable’s bandwidth in exchange for repairing and maintaining the cable for the next 25 years. It was estimated the amount of work required to make the system operational would cost in the region of USD28 million, suggesting that as much as 20% of the infrastructure was damaged. Work has already begun, and the repairs are expected to be completed within the next six months. Dax CEO, Faizal Mohamed, told the paper that several sections of the network extending to Brazil, which are currently strung on overhead poles, will be buried to minimise the threat of future damage. The official also noted that the firm is in talks with local and international partners regarding the use of its portion of the cable’s bandwidth.

Irish infrastructure operator Viatel has added two points of presence (PoPs) – Paris Equinix 4, located in Paris, and Telehouse Metro (London) – to its European fibre backbone network, in a bid to handle rising demand for bandwidth across its key markets, Silicon Republic reports. Viatel has over 150 PoPs in Western Europe, with direct reach into Dublin, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt and Zurich. Since announcing a EUR125 million European expansion plan in August 2014, the operator has boosted capacity between Milan and Marseille to carry up to 100Gbps worth of Ethernet connectivity.

In a bid to improve the data carrying capacity to its backbone networks and to submarine connections across Iceland, wholesale telecoms provider Mila has selected *Ekinops*’ 100Gbps optical transport equipment platform. Snorri Olgeirsson, chief network designer at Mila, said the ability to augment capacity quickly is essential to the operator’s continued growth, as data centre traffic increases rapidly.

Finally, TeliaSonera has announced that it is ‘the first in the Nordics and Baltics and one of three global carriers’ to achieve MEF Carrier Ethernet 2.0 accreditation for its Ethernet services portfolio offered on its national and international networks. Enterprise and service provider customers will benefit from faster deliveries and the assurance of consistent, high performance connectivity. A CE 2.0 certified compliant product enables faster and consistent rollout of MEF services through greater standardisation and use of common language.

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