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

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12 Jun 2015

The European Commission (EC) is planning to invest in a new submarine fibre-optic cable, tentatively dubbed eulaLink, which will link Lisbon (Portugal) with Fortaleza (Brazil). The project, which is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) by 2017, is being built by a consortium led by Brazilian state-owned telecoms infrastructure provider Telebras and Spanish cable operator IslaLink. The EC disclosed that it will invest around EUR25 million (USD28 million) in the new fibre-optic infrastructure via the Building Europe Link to Latin America (BELLA) project, which was put forward by European research network DANTE and its Latin American counterpart RedCLARA. The ultimate aim of the initiative is to boost education, research and innovation, as well as business exchanges, by reducing connection costs and ensuring a very high-capacity bandwidth. The EC added that Latin America currently relies on undersea cables going to the US to carry almost all (85%-90%) of its communications to Europe, as the existing cable between Latin America and Europe – the 8,500km Atlantis-2, which went into operation in February 2000 – is outdated and only used for voice transmissions.

Orange Cameroun has signed an agreement with the government for the operation of the African Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable, which is scheduled to land on Cameroonian shores by end-2015, Investir au Cameroun writes. Orange Cameroon’s CEO Elisabeth Medou Bandang said that the arrival of Cameroon’s third submarine cable – the country is already connected to the SAT3 and WACS cables – would enable the operator to manage growth in data usage and to improve connectivity in the country. No further details of the agreement were disclosed. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in March 2015 the government issued a call for expressions of interest (EoI) for the construction of a cable landing point in Kribi, situated in the South Region, and a 650km fibre-optic branch to the ACE connecting point. TeleGeography notes that the 17,000km ACE high-speed cable, which connects France to the west coast of Africa and has overall potential capacity of 5.12Tbps, is currently in its second-phase rollout of connectivity to additional countries on Africa’s Atlantic coast. The first launch phase of the system took place in December 2012 and saw the network segment covering 13 countries from Europe to Sao Tome and Principe go live.

Tanzania’s Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology (MCST) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC) for the implementation of Phase V of the National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB), which will commence in 2016, the Daily News reports. The NICTBB programme is being implemented in five phases; the first two stages of the fibre-optic backbone project have been completed with a total of 7,560km of fibre already in operation. The backbone network currently covers 24 regions of Tanzania’s mainland, and has connectivity to three submarine cables – Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy), SEACOM and Seychelles to East Africa System (SEAS) – and also cross-border connectivity to the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Burundi and Zambia. ‘ICT is the tool which can connect all African countries and if more efforts will be put our country will be the centre to connect them’, ICT minister Makame Mbarawa was cited as saying. Mbarawa added that the infrastructure will enhance the use of ICT applications for sustainable socio-economic development including implementation of e-government, e-learning, e-health and e-commerce.

*SEACOM*’s chief development officer Suveer Ramdhani has disclosed that less than 5% of the submarine cable’s maximum bandwidth is being used, MyBroadband reports. Ramdhani explained that the cable is capable of carrying 5Tbps of traffic, though the fibre-optics currently deployed support a maximum capacity of 300Gbps. Of this, only 240Gbps is lit, indicating that the available bandwidth is not making it through to end-users. The executive attributed this to several factors, including expensive last-mile fibre and Long Term Evolution (LTE) connections, the take-up of metro fibre deployments, prohibitively high long-haul expenses and selective local peering policies.

Luxembourg-based firm Murosa Development has increased its holding in Irish transatlantic cable provider Hibernia Networks, which owns six diverse routes connecting Ireland to North America and Europe, to 51% following an investment of EUR20 million (USD22 million), the Irish Independent reports. Murosa is a wholly-owned subsidiary of KCK-FHN Ltd, a Cayman Islands company, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of British Virgin Islands-registered KCK Ltd. The elaborate deal that has seen the investors take majority control of the Irish firm has been in progress since last year and involved three stages, including an initial phase which saw Murosa pay EUR53 million for its original stake in Hibernia. Columbia Ventures Corporation (CVC) meanwhile holds the remaining 49% of the Irish company.

European infrastructure provider euNetworks said it has delivered dark fibre connections to the DARZ data centre in Darmstadt, 30km outside of Frankfurt. DARZ is used by the financial services community as a backup and disaster recovery (BCDR) location. The new fibre-optics provided by euNetworks will enable both diversity and scalable bandwidth options for companies looking to take services in the facility.

US-based Hurricane Electric, which claims to ‘own the world’s largest IPv6-native internet backbone’, has connected to over 100 internet exchanges. The company, which offers 1, 10 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) connections, has also improved connectivity in each of its geographic regions of operation and, as a result, its customers have been able to experience increased throughput, reduced latency and improved reliability.

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