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

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17 Jul 2015

Work on the Solomon Islands’ planned new submarine cable project is said to be progressing, with confirmation from the CEO of Solomon Oceanic Cable Company (SOCC) Robin Russell that the tender for the main supply contract will close on 17 July 2015, which is the first major step towards its implementation. ‘Once the bids have been evaluated we will progress to finalise the financing and will then contract with the successful bidder to deliver the submarine cable and supporting terminal equipment,’ Mr Russell confirmed this week, adding that the total cost of the project will depend on the outcome of successful bids in the international competitive tender currently being undertaken. SOCC, which is co-owned by Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) and Solomon Telekom (Our Telekom), is managing the project, with Russell noting that the total cost, including financing cost, civil works, supporting studies, legal costs, project management costs and contingencies, is expected to be in the range of USD68 million. The CEO concedes that SOCC’s principal challenge will be ‘getting the money’ for the project, adding that the approach being adopted is a public/private partnership (PPP) model. ‘Funding is being provided in the form of equity by SINPF (51% shareholder) and Our Telekom (49%), Asian Development Bank via support in the form of grants and sovereign debt through the Solomon Islands Government, and private debt funding from the ANZ bank and the PSOD (the investment banking arm of the ADB),’ he added. Under SOCC’s supervision, an international cable will be developed landing in Honiara West, while a further two domestic cables will run from Honiara West to Noro, and to Auki. At each landing point, some new ducts will be required to carry the cable to where it can link to existing Telekom ducts. The project will include three landing stations, at Honiara West, Auki and Noro.

Alcatel-Lucent claims to have set a new undersea data transmission distance record, completing a 300Gbps transmission over a 10,000km submarine cable test-bed from Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN). In a statement, the vendor said: ‘This new modulation technology will help optimise the performance of submarine cable systems whose introduction in Africa has seen the costs of internet services slashed by almost half.’ The trial was carried out on ASN’s test bed combining the 300G 8QAM (8 quadrature amplitude modulation) technology of ASN’s 1620 Softnode platform and second generation coherent submarine fibre.

In a separate development, Apollo and Alcatel-Lucent’s ASN have successfully demonstrated a capacity of 8Tbps of data per fibre pair – equivalent to approximately 1.25 million HDTV channels simultaneously streamed – on the Apollo South System, which connects France to the United States. In a press release, Alca-Lu said that for the demonstration ASN used its current generation 1620 Light Manager submarine line terminal, equipped with the latest 100G technology and made use of innovative detection techniques and advanced error correction coding. In combination with proprietary modulation and pulse shaping schemes, this commercially available solution counteracts the signal distortions and noise that impact high speed, long-distance transmission performance.

Meanwhile, Telecom Italia Sparkle has expanded its Global IP Backbone reach in Europe with a new point of presence (PoP) in Stockholm to support rising IP transit service demand in the Nordic region and Russia. The new PoP, located at Telecity in Bromma, is being dubbed as ‘the first independent carrier neutral facility in the Swedish market’, and will address increasing demand in the region, which TI Sparkle – the wholly owned subsidiary of Telecom Italia (TIM) – says is currently experiencing double-digit growth in IP traffic.

Global packet-optical networking solutions provider Transmode has announced via its website that Japanese internet company Yahoo Japan has deployed Transmode’s 10G Metro WDM (wavelength division multiplexing) high speed optical interconnection solution, to handle increased capacity between key nodes that provide connection to both Yahoo Japan’s data centres and its service provider customer base. Yahoo Japan’s customers connect into the Yahoo Japan network at these nodes to gain access to services and data hosted within Yahoo Japan’s data centres, it vendor notes. Sweden-based Transmode is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Stockholm Exchange (TRMO) and since 2000 claims to have installed more than 50,000 systems for over 650 fixed and mobile network operators, service providers, large enterprises and public institutions in over 50 countries across the globe.

Work on the Central Africa Backbone Project (CAB) appears to be progressing smoothly, with the announcement that in one month, 76km of fibre-optic cable has already been installed out of the 520km planned to connect Congo with Gabon. The work, which is being carried out by Huawei Technologies and its sub-contractors, started on 18 June at Pointe-Noire and will be completed between March and April 2016. The link will traverse a number of localities including Pointe-Noire, Bilinga, Dolisie, Mont Mbelo, Makabana, Mossendjo and finally Mbinda, where it will interconnect with the optical fibre link from Gabon.

Bangladesh’s Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) has approved ten projects in the country, including one to install the country’s second submarine cable connection. At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Ecnec agreed an allocation of BDT6.606 billion (USD86.6 million) for the new submarine link which, when completed, will add bandwidth of more than 1,300Gbps to the country’s existing total of 200Gbps. Previously, Cable Compendium reported that in May this year, Monwar Hossain, the managing director of Bangladesh Submarine Cable Co Limited (BSCCL), 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 was inked in June this year. The terrestrial cable involved stretches from Cox’s Bazar landing station (Bangladesh) to Agartala, located in India’s state of Tripura, via Akhaura (Brahmmanbaria District).

Nigeria-based MainOne, which describes itself as a leading provider of innovative telecom services and network solutions for business users in West Africa, plans to double its investment on broadband infrastructure in the next five years, Communications Week reports. According to MainOne CEO Ms Funke Opeke, the new funding may be generated from additional shareholder equity, loans or through a bond sale within the next five years. Since 2010, the company has invested around USD300 million in the region, and is targeting the expansion of its data centres and submarine cable infrastructure in Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria as more companies move ‘their business model online,’ Opeke is quoted as saying. As previously reported by TeleGeography, in January this year MainOne opened a Tier III Data Centre to address the growing demand for colocation, cloud and disaster recovery services in the region. The purpose built facility will be managed by a new subsidiary, called MDX-i. MDX-i’s Tier III Lekki Data Center is the first of a number of planned data centres being considered by MainOne. It is a NGN7 billion (USD37.8 million) investment and has capacity for 600 racks.

International connectivity to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI’s) has been restored one week after its sole submarine fibre-optic cable broke, albeit that internet services in Saipan ‘remain slow. Main telecoms provider and undersea cable operator IT&E reports that it ‘successfully installed an additional temporary link, between Saipan and Tinian, which has increased capacity tenfold compared to (Monday’s) restoration speeds’. As reported in last week’s Cable Compendium, Pacific Telecom, the parent company of IT&E, has reported a fault in the Mariana-Guam Cable, saying that whilst it had not identified the exact cause of the cable cut, ‘indications are that this failure is a result of the recent passing of Typhoon Chan-Hom through the Mariana Islands’. The USD14 million fibre-optic cable, which stretches 240km between Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan, replaced an overloaded inter-island microwave system in 1997. While IT&E is attempting to fix the undersea cable, it has partially restored service by reviving the old microwave link.

And finally, Ghana is set to receive a boost in terms of broadband infrastructure, with the news that pan African telecommunications provider Internet Solutions is investing USD15 million over three years, with the first phase set to take place in Accra, followed by future phases in Kumasi, Takoradi, Cape Coast and a number of other commercial hubs. In a release, Internet Solutions confirmed that ‘as the demand for more bandwidth increases, this state-of-the-art fibre-optic network will have the required capacity to accommodate this growth’. It plans to partner Tejas Networks and Infratele Solutions Ghana Limited to build the Metro-Fibre Network, which is fully compliant with the International Telecommunications Union standard (ITU-T SG15) for fibre-optics build, and the Metro Ethernet Network Forum standards (MEF 2.0) compliance for Metro and Carrier Grade Ethernet networks. The network will have initial capacity of 400Gbps – expandable to 3.2Tbps – and will complement the existing undersea cable systems by providing an access network equal to the task of disseminating the international capacity.

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