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

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14 Aug 2015

Huawei Marine Networks (Huawei Marine) has completed an upgrade of the West Africa Cable System (WACS) submarine cable, following the deployment of its 100G transmission solution on the Digital Line Segments (DLS) between South Africa to Portugal and between Portugal and the UK. With the stretch between South Africa and Portugal exceeding 11,450km, the vendor claims that the deployment represents one of the longest 100G submarine links in the industry. The 14,900km cable – which was commissioned in May 2012 with an initial design capacity of 5.12Tbps – spans the west coast of Africa, linking South Africa to the UK, with landings in Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands and Portugal. The submarine cable is owned by a consortium comprising telecoms operators from 17 countries.

Hibernia Networks is close to completing its 4,600km submarine cable route connecting Halifax in Nova Scotia (Canada) to Cork (Ireland), and has announced that the cable has ‘come ashore’ in Ireland. Hibernia Express – which represents the first transatlantic submarine cable build in over twelve years – will comprise six fibre-pairs, with a portion of the fibre optimised for the lowest latency, and a portion optimised for 100Gbpsx100Gbps capacity. The total cross-sectional design capacity of the cable will be more than 53Tbps. The new system will be ready for service (RFS) in September 2015.

Work commenced last week to lay fibre between Saint Croix and Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, according to a statement issued by the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network (viNGN). The press release notes: ‘To ensure network capacity and redundancy, two cables with the capacity for 10Gbps and higher broadband speeds will be laid on the sea floor and will connect the islands of Saint Thomas and Saint Croix. Currently, the network leases 2.5Gbps inter-island capacity from AT&T’. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the viNGN is primarily funded by a grant from the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) as part of an extensive federal programme designed to improve broadband capacity in the US and its unincorporated territories. The network, which incorporates a twelve-part 183km submarine cable link between the territory’s islands, will eventually pass every home in the USVI with Gigabit technology.

A state-backed project to connect India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands, situated in the Bay of Bengal, with Port Blair in Chennai (the capital of Tamil Nadu state), via a fibre-optic submarine cable link is expected to receive final approval by December this year, the Economic Times reports. The project also proposes to connect the Lakshadweep islands – which presently rely on satellite broadband connectivity – with a fibre link. Telecoms Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was cited as saying: ‘While accepting the need to provide robust and reliable telecoms connectivity to Lakshadweep islands, the Telecom Commission [the highest decision-making body of the Ministry of Communications … has accorded an ‘in principle’ approval to undertake a cost benefit analysis and feasibility study for laying submarine cable in Lakshadweep, along with a validation of the estimated cost, before proceeding.’ The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended an initial budget of roughly INR24 billion (USD368.6 million) for the project; for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the regulator has suggested connecting 22 out of 29 inhabited islands, while in Lakshadweep, the regulator seeks to connect ten of eleven inhabited islands.

Australian dark fibre provider Superloop has secured a Unified Carrier Licence (UCL) from Hong Kong’s Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA), which will allow its subsidiary Superloop (Hong Kong) Limited to build, operate and provide telecom networks and services in the country. Superloop CEO Daniel Abrahams said the licence award was ‘a significant milestone for the company’, adding that Superloop company will continue to evaluate potential investment and explore expansion opportunities in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, based on underlying market dynamics and customer demand for high speed data services. Superloop currently provides carrier-neutral fibre-optic network access to network providers and enterprises in Australia and Singapore. The operator has a 15-year exclusive right to a 130km core fibre network in Brisbane and Melbourne (Australia), and recently acquired a 120km underground duct network in Singapore.

UK-based data centre provider Global Switch has announced that customers at its Sydney data centre are now able to connect directly to *FirstPath*’s new high-capacity fibre-optic submarine cables, which were laid across Sydney Harbour in June 2015. One of the newly deployed sections links Dawes Point and Blue Point, while the other runs beneath the Harbour Bridge. The cable network is described by manufacturer Prysmian as ‘the densest underwater cable in Australia at 720 fibre cores’ and provides a total capacity of 1,440 fibre cores. Elsewhere, Global Switch has begun work on the second stage of the Sydney East data centre; the first stage of the project was launched last year and is now nearing full occupancy. Damon Reid, managing director at GlobalSwitch in Sydney, said: ‘We facilitate one of the region’s most important connectivity hubs, spanning 50,000 square metres of operational data centre space on a single high availability campus. Combined with our continually expanding community of cloud service providers, Global Switch Sydney has an unrivalled business ecosystem.’

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