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

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15 May 2015

Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) and GoTo Networks have signed a turnkey contract to build the first direct submarine link connecting Australia, the Middle East and Africa; the cable will be called Australia West Express (AWE). The AWE system will span the Indian Ocean, connecting Perth in Australia and Djibouti in north-east Africa, with onward connectivity to provide an entirely new lower latency route to Europe. The system is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) by the end of 2016, and will have an ultimate design capacity of 20Tbps. Commenting on the project, John Mariano, GoTo Networks Founder and CEO said: ‘AWE will support a wide variety of consumer and enterprise broadband services for Australasia economies and recognise Europe’s increasing importance as a destination for internet traffic. Leveraging ASN’s innovation and 200Gbps transmission technology, we are also positioning for further scalability to address future growth in ultra-broadband traffic and applications.’ ASN will deploy its new 1620 SOFTNODE solution, which enables the transmission of 240Tbps on multiple fibre pairs. The platform’s capabilities were demonstrated during a recent field trial conducted over the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) system, showcasing a breakthrough transmission of 12.6Tbps of data per fibre pair.

Construction work on the New Cross Pacific (NCP) submarine cable system, which will directly connect China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States, has begun. Spanning more than 13,000km, the fibre-optic system will have landing points in Hillsboro (US), Chongming, Nanhui and Lingang (China), Busan (South Korea), Toucheng (Taiwan) and Maruyama (Japan). The NCP, which is expected to cost ‘several hundred million US dollars’, will have a design capacity of up to 80Tbps and is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2017. As previously noted by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, a consortium of international telecoms operators – including Chunghwa Telecom of Taiwan, KT Corporation of South Korea, Japan’s SoftBank Mobile, US-based Microsoft Corporation and unnamed major carriers from China and the US – signed a Construction and Maintenance Agreement and the Supply Contract for the planned NCP system in October 2014. TE SubCom was selected to construct the fibre-optic cable link.

Microsoft Corporation is investing in the Hibernia Express submarine cable in order to interconnect several of its data centres via multiple metro and long haul fibres. The 4,600km cable, built by TE SubCom, will provide the lowest-latency fibre-optic path between New York and London, connecting Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) and Brean (UK), with terrestrial fibre deployed to extend connectivity to the major metro areas. The Hibernia Express, scheduled to be RFS in the summer of 2015, will initially launch with 100Gbps transmission capacity using TE SubCom’s C100 SLTE platform. It will be a six-fibre-pair submarine cable, with a portion of the fibre optimised for lowest latency and a portion optimised for 100Gbpsx100Gbps design capacity. The total cross-sectional design capacity of the cable will be more than 53Tbps. In addition, a UK-based regional telecoms firm – TrueSpeed Communications – has signed a deal with Hibernia Networks to deploy the terrestrial cable from the landing station across Somerset and Wiltshire counties – and use the bandwidth to support its own new network, the Bath Chronicle reports.

Meanwhile, Hibernia Networks has announced that it has inked a deal with Zayo Group, a global provider of Bandwidth Infrastructure services, to provide a 100G augmentation, via the Hibernia Express, to Zayo’s transatlantic network. The extension will provide Zayo customers with a fast, secure and diverse transatlantic route, while adding to Zayo’s existing network, which spans more than 82,000 route miles across the US and Europe.

The Asia America Gateway (AAG) undersea cable, which connects south-east Asia and the US, has been fully repaired since 12 May 2015, thus restoring internet services between Vietnam, Thailand and Hong Kong, Viet Nam News writes. The breakdown was located in the S1H component of the cable. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, the 20,000km AAG cable system has been repaired tour times in the last year – in January, July and September 2014, and January 2015, with the cable’s poor technical design previously cited as a factor in its repeated breaks.

Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd’s (BSCCL’s)proposal to sell off half of its SEA-ME-WE-4 capacity to Telekom Italia’s international arm TI Sparkle at a very low price has attracted some scrutiny, the Daily Star reports. In February 2015, the BSCCL board decided to sell four million MIU-km (minimum investment unit), which is equivalent to around 90Gbps of capacity, to TI Sparkle for BDT160.0 million (USD2.05 million) for the rest of the lifetime of the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable; in addition, TI Sparkle will pay BSCCL an annual fee of BDT480,000 for maintenance costs. The proposed tariff is much lower than the USD1.2 million annual fee agreed between BSCCL and Indian telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for the export of 10Gbps of bandwidth to India’s north-eastern states. Monowar Hossain, managing director of BSCCL, has defended the decision by saying: ‘It seems like a loss, but as a lot of our capacity is unused and we are wasting the opportunity, whatever we can earn through the deal will benefit us.’ At present, BSCCL has a total capacity of 8.9 million MIU-km, which is equivalent to 200Gbps, although just 20Gbps is used to address the country’s broadband needs.

Alaska Communications and Quintillion Holdings have agreed to acquire *ConocoPhillips*’ fibre-optic network in Alaska’s North Slope Borough. The two operators disclosed that the acquisition will enable them to target business service opportunities in the region’s growing oil and gas industry. Quintillion Holdings CEO Elizabeth Pierce meanwhile said that the company will expand its network over the next two years, thus ‘increasing the availability of services over fibre-optic cable in remote regions of Alaska by making access available to all telecom service providers.’ Part of Quintillion’s planned expansion includes a new fibre-based connection between Deadhorse, located in the North Slope, and Fairbanks, the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska, and the construction of a submarine fibre connection from Prudhoe Bay to Nome. Upon completion, this fibre network investment will increase connectivity to oil and gas fields including the Kuparuk River Unit, Colville River Unit, Milne Point Unit, Prudhoe Bay Unit and Oooguruk Unit.

Athens-based network backbone operator OTEGLOBE, which has recently signed an agreement to land the 25,000km Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) submarine cable system at Chania (Crete), is expanding its European backbone network with *Infinera*’s DTN-X platform. The upgrade will allow OTEGLOBE to deploy international services for its submarine and terrestrial network, which links Greece and Western Europe via Italy and the Balkans. The new platform will enable OTEGLOBE to deliver capacity of 100Gbps coherent transmission via 500Gbps super-channels, with a forward-scale design to support terabit super-channels in the future. The high capacity super-channels are enabled by 500Gbps photonic integrated circuits (PICs) developed by Infinera. PICs enable the DTN-X platform to integrate dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) super-channel transmission with up to 12Tbps of non-blocking optical transport network switching, providing seamless scaling as traffic requirements grow in the future.

Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) has extended the reach of unrepeatered cable systems at 100Gbps to more than 610km by using the same fibre link for both signal and amplifier transmission. By freeing up individual fibres normally combined in a cable system, this breakthrough is expected to lead to significant improvements to cable system efficiency, creating benefits for operators in terms of total cost of network ownership. When offered commercially, this technology could extend the reach of current unrepeatered systems without affecting the signal transmission. ASN has so far deployed more than 20,000km of unrepeatered cable systems in more than 40 projects for major telecom operators worldwide.

Ericsson and Australian telecoms giant Telstra have achieved what they claim to be ‘a new landmark for low latency, high capacity non-regenerated optical transmission’ on the 5,179km Melbourne-Sydney-Perth link, following the deployment of *Ciena*’s optical WaveLogic 3 technology. David Robertson, director of Transport and Routing Engineering at Telstra commented: ‘This new optical technology enables Telstra to provide Australia’s lowest latency link between Sydney and Perth – key access points critical for trans-Australian and international telecommunications. We are also pleased to receive a Guinness World Record for 10,358km un-regenerated terrestrial optical transport link between Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.’ In a demonstration, the 100Gbps optical link between Melbourne and Sydney was increased to 200Gbps per wavelength using Ciena’s WaveLogic Extreme technology. This will enable Telstra to quickly and efficiently increase capacity to support the growth of customer bandwidth demand, as and when required.

Meanwhile, Telstra, which finalised the acquisition of Pacnet Limited for USD697 million in April 2015, has revealed that its multinational customers can now benefit from more direct and low latency network connectivity in China, following the network integration of Telstra and Pacnet’s Chinese joint venture (JV) Pacnet Business Solutions (PBS). As reported by CommsUpdate, in November 2012 PBS received an enhanced service licence from the Chinese government, the first of its kind to be awarded by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to a Sino-foreign telecoms joint venture, and shortly after PBS’s IP VPN footprint was extended to cover 23 provinces across the mainland, including Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai.

In addition, Telstra has extended its global Software Defined Networking (SDN) Platform, Pacnet Enabled Network (PEN), and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) capabilities into the optical layer, enabling high-bandwidth provisioning up to 100G and automated fault restoration across its global Point of Presence (PoP) footprint. The PEN Platform is built on Telstra’s global network and is available in 25 PEN PoPs across eight countries – including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the US and the UK.

Alcatel-Lucent and Flextronics have signed a letter of intent for the proposed transfer of Alcatel-Lucent’s optical transport manufacturing plant and related assets in Trieste (Italy) for an undisclosed sum, subject to statutory regulatory approvals and a final binding agreement. The Trieste plant is a facility specialising in the industrialisation and manufacture of optical transport products for Alcatel-Lucent’s global supply chain; the proposed sale to Flextronics will enable it to expand into new markets and diversify its customer base, while retaining and building critical skills and expertise in the field of optical communications. Subject to the final agreement for the transfer, the Trieste site will continue to supply Alcatel-Lucent with optical transport products.

Internet exchange operator DE-CIX has announced that it will open an internet exchange point (IXP) in Istanbul (Turkey), in order to provide a neutral interconnection and peering point for internet service providers (ISPs) from Turkey, Iran, the Caucasus region and the Middle East. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in Q1 2015 DE-CIX announced new IXPs in Palermo (Italy) and Marseille (France); Istanbul will be its third exchange along the border of the Mediterranean Sea. All three new exchanges are expected to open in 3Q15.

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and TI Sparkle have announced the provisioning of what they claim is the first 2×100Gbps of IP transit connectivity in the Middle East. 2×100Gbps transit connectivity represents an unparalleled throughput capability and is expected to serve STC customers in the region with best in class performance. The 2×100Gbps IP Ports have been activated at TI Sparkle’s Sicily Hub in Palermo, which is located closer to the Middle East and Africa than any other European peering point.

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