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

22 May 2015

Ghana’s National Information Technology Agency (NITA) has revealed that the country’s USD38 million Eastern Corridor Fiber Optic Backbone project, which spans 775km and connects 27 districts and towns between Ho (Volta Region) and Bawku (Northern Region), has been completed, in co-operation with Paris-based equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent. The network, which serves major towns such as Kpando, Jasikan, Nkwanta, Bimbila, Yendi, Tamale, Gushiegu and Bawku, uses Alca-Lu’s optical networking platform based on the 1830 photonic service switch, and is capable of supporting 100G technology. Going forward, the government is reportedly planning to award the ‘Western Corridor Fiber Optic Backbone’ contract later this year.

End-to-end solutions supplier Coriant has been selected by Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) to enhance the flexibility, reliability and scalability of its fibre-optic backbone networks in Barbados and Jamaica. The new broadband infrastructure for Barbados and expanded optical backbone network in Jamaica will leverage Coriant’s hiT 7300 Multi-Haul Transport Platform, including photonic mesh resiliency, low latency coherent transmission, and seamless scalability to high-speed transmission rates of 100G, 200G, 400G and beyond. The hiT 7300 solution supports the transmission of 100G per channel for a total system capacity of up to 9.6Tbps per fibre pair. The new platform will allow CWC to maximise the utilisation of its fibre infrastructure and lower operational costs, while providing the resilient foundation for scalability of up to 13Tbps per fibre pair as demand for backbone capacity grows over time.

Monwar Hossain, the managing director of Bangladesh Submarine Cable Co Limited (BSCCL), has revealed that the deal with Indian telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for the supply of 10Gbps of bandwidth to India’s north-eastern states for three years will be formally signed on 6 June 2015, bdnews24.com writes. The agreement will be in force for four years, with an option to increase the supplied bandwidth to 40Gbps, depending on Indian requirements. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, the deal was approved by the cabinet last month; the proposed terrestrial cable will stretch from Cox’s Bazar landing station (Bangladesh) to Agartala, located in India’s state of Tripura, via Akhaura (Brahmmanbaria District). 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.

A fracture has been reported on a segment of the 30,000km Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) system, which connects Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, Stuff.co.nz reports. The fault was caused when a contractor working for the state’s transport department in the town of Klamath Falls cut through the land-based E2 segment of the cable with a digger. Due to the cable’s design though the fracture had limited effect on customers, as the network is configured as a ‘figure of eight’ centred on Hawaii, with one backup route available at all times. Ronnie Nathu, finance director at Southern Cross Cables Limited (SCCL), said the SCCN cable was repaired in a less than nine hours. The executive also revealed there had been another cut on the same link in February, when a boring machine cut through the fibre-optic cable near Sacramento. Meanwhile, Craig Young, CEO of Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ), commented: ‘While we recognise that the Southern Cross cable is well maintained and managed, there will always be the chance of incidents caused by third parties that remind us of our reliance on that single cable system … We continue to support the development of a second undersea cable system to the continental United States to ensure diversity of supply and to reduce the risk of events like this having major flow on impacts on our economy.’

A recently released report claims that millions of dollars were allegedly misused during the first phase of a USD221 million fibre-optic backbone project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). While the Reuters report does not provide an exact figure for the alleged ‘irregularities’, it says that a USD3.4 million loan provided by China’s Exim Bank for the construction of a landing station for the West Africa Cable System (WACS) cable appears to have been withdrawn from a bank account by beneficiaries ‘not directly linked to the project’. In addition, the report notes that the government paid more than double the standard rate for the cables connecting Muanda to Kinshasa, which it claims are widely defective and not suited for subterranean use. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC) commenced work on the rollout of the government’s fibre backbone in late-2012, with the first 1,500km phase of the project encompassing Muanda, Bas-Congo and Kinshasa for a cost of EUR70 million. The backbone was belatedly linked to the WACS submarine cable system in June 2013. Meanwhile, phase two of the initiative got underway in April 2013 with 3,500km of new infrastructure to be extended from Kinshasa to Katanga, through the provinces of Bandundu and Kasai; work on the project’s ten phases is expected to last 25 years.

Brazilian metro fibre and data centre services provider Ascenty is planning to launch its new data centre in Maracanau, which is located in the metropolitan region of Fortaleza in the state of Ceara, next month (June 2015). The company will also deploy 150km of fibre-optic infrastructure to connect the new data centre to telecoms networks in the region, and to submarine cables landing in Fortaleza; the company has invested a total of BRL120 million (USD39.5 million) in the project. Going forward, Ascenty is planning to build another data centre in Hortolandia (Sao Paulo), with two additional units – in Jundiai and Sao Paulo – set to be established in 2016. TeleGeography notes that Ascenty’s proprietary fibre network in Sao Paulo spans 3,500km.

US software and semiconductor provider Ikanos Communications has successfully demonstrated data rates in excess of 1Gbps at a distance of 100 metres over existing hybrid fibre-copper networks in original equipment manufacturer (OEM) lab trials in Japan and Korea. Following the demonstration, Ikanos claims to have become ‘the sole access-network technology provider to date that can enable carriers in both regions to provide millions of VDSL subscribers with ten times or greater increase in data rates’. Ikanos’ Gigabit technology is a variant of the recently ratified G.fast standard, optimised for the unique requirements of the carrier networks in the two regions.

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