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

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21 Aug 2015

Global data centre firm Equinix has announced that it is working with US-based undersea capacity-based network solutions provider AquaComms on the deployment of the America-Europe Connect (AEConnect) submarine cable system, which will stretch from the US to Ireland. The 5,400km fibre-optic link, which has design capacity of 130Gbps x 100Gbps per fibre pair, will land in Shirley (New York) and Killala on the West Coast of Ireland, with stubbed branching units for future deployments. It will also interconnect with CeltixConnect – a 131km Irish Sea subsea cable wholly owned by AquaComms’ subsidiary Sea Fibre Networks (SFN) – to provide extended connectivity to London (UK) and continental Europe. The USD300 million cable landed in County Mayo (Ireland) last week, with Aqua Comms chief financial officer Martin Roche commenting: ‘Following the successful completion of the landing of the cable in Killala we will now seek to lay the remaining sections of the cable over the coming months, completing the project by December 2015.’

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has accepted an application for a ‘streamlined submarine cable landing licence’, which was filed by China Mobile International Limited (CMI), China Telecom Global Limited (CTG), Global Transit 2 Limited (GT2L), KDDI Corporation, Singapore Telecom USA (Singtel USA) and GU Holdings. The consortium is planning to build a non-common carrier fibre-optic submarine cable – dubbed FASTER – which will connect the west coast of the US to major Asian cities including Chikura and Shima in Japan and Tanshui (Taiwan). The cable will be owned, operated and maintained by CMI, CTG, GT2L, KDDI and Singtel USA, while GU Holdings will own and operate the US cable landing station in Bandon (Oregon). The 11,629km FASTER system – which will be built by NEC Corporation – will consist of the following branches: Segment 1 will connect the existing cable landing station at Bandon to branching unit 1 (BU1), located off the coast of Chikura (Japan); Segment 2 will connect Chikura to BU1; Segment 3 will connect BU1 to BU2, which will be located off the coast of Shima; Segment 4 will connect the cable landing station located at Shima to BU2; and Segments 5 and 6 will connect the Tanshui cable landing station to BU2. The submarine system will consist of six fibre-optic pairs with an initial design capacity of 60Tbps on the principal portion (Segments 1-4); Segments 5 and 6 will consist of two fibre pairs with 20Tbps initial design capacity. Construction of the cable will begin in August 2015.

Talks between Reliance Communications (RCOM) of India and China’s CITIC Telecom International with regards to the latter’s acquisition of RCOM’s submarine unit, Global Cloud Xchange (GCX, previously known as Reliance Globalcom), have been revived, writes. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, RCOM has been looking to offload its cable arm since 2012 to help cut its debt, with an initial public offering (IPO) falling through in July 2012 due to unfavourable market conditions. In August 2014 it emerged that CITIC was looking into acquiring GCX’s submarine operations for up to USD500 million. However, in February 2015 CITIC pulled out of the race on valuation concerns. Previously, negotiations with potential buyers such as Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) and a consortium of private equity firms led by Samena Capital amounted to nothing.

A number of Myanmar telecoms operators have reported disruptions to their services which have been caused by faults in their respective terrestrial links to Thailand, the Myanmar Times reports. Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT) and Ooredoo Myanmar disclosed early last week that a cut on the Kengtung-Myawaddy fibre-optic network has impacted their operations, while* Telenor Myanmar* revealed on 14 August that it also had issues with two of its independent international links with Thailand. TeleGeography notes that Myanmar’s sole international submarine cable to date is SeaMeWe-3, so the country relies heavily on terrestrial links to Thailand for access to the global internet.

*Guyana*’s new government has scrapped a controversial deal with a local firm for the repair and maintenance of the fibre-optic infrastructure connecting the nation to Brazil, Demerara Waves reports. The Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, informed the head of Dax Construction that the contract would be cancelled and that the company should immediately cease all work on the cable. Work on the cable began in 2011 as part of the state’s e-government project, but the rollout has encountered a host of problems, from contractors lacking the equipment and expertise to install the cable, to deployed sections being damaged by other construction work and vandalism. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in April this year the government signed a 40-year deal with Dax Construction, under which the company was given exclusive use of a portion of the cable’s capacity and tax exemptions on the import of certain vehicles and equipment in exchange for repairing and maintaining the cable. The government claimed that the agreement provided a ‘cost-free’ means of making the long-delayed system operational, but the pact was criticised for being vague and open to abuse.

US-based Integra has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire opticAccess, a provider of high-capacity fibre-based connectivity solutions for large enterprises and domestic and international carrier customers. opticAccess presides over a 3,500 route mile network, which stretches from Seattle to San Diego, with the majority of its metro fibre route miles in the Bay Area and Los Angeles metro areas. Following the acquisition, Integra expects to increase its addressable near-net network reach – which it defines as buildings within 2,500 feet of its fibre network – by nearly 40%. The transaction is expected to close in Q4 2015, subject to applicable regulatory approvals.

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