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

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20 Nov 2015

Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks is set to commence work on the second phase of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable deployment, which will comprise the rollout of a 5,000km extension from Sao Tome and Principe to South Africa. The second stage of the project will link Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) and South Africa, with an additional extension to Cameroon. Alca-Lu will deploy its 100Gbps submarine fibre-optic wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology for the project, thus increasing the overall design capacity of the ACE cable to 12.8Tbps. TeleGeography notes that the ACE consortium has invested around USD700 million in the construction of the cable, which was lit in December 2012. The ACE cable (which currently stretches 12,000km) serves 18 countries, with landing stations in France, Portugal, the Canary Islands, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. Two landlocked countries, Mali and Niger, are connected via a terrestrial extension.

Newly established Hong Kong-based company Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) – a subsidiary of investment fund China Soft Power Technology Holding Limited (CSPTHL) – has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with TE SubCom for the construction of a new submarine cable system, dubbed*Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN)*, which will directly connect Hong Kong with the US. AAStocks Financial News reports that the fibre-optic network is expected to cost roughly USD400 million, and will be wholly-owned and operated by PLDC. CSPTHL’s major shareholder Wei Zhenyu disclosed that construction work is expected to commence between June and July 2016, with a scheduled commercial launch of May 2018.

Nigeria-based MainOne Cable Company has completed a 100G upgrade of its submarine cable network MainOne, which stretches between Lagos in Nigeria, Accra (Ghana) and Seixal (Portugal), with planned branching units to Morocco, the Canary Islands, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire. Leveraging Xtera’s Nu-wave Optima optical networking platform, the 100G wavelength upgrade is expected to provide additional capacity support for MainOne’s delivery of high-bandwidth services, pending the integration of the Nigeria Cameroon Submarine Cable System (NCSCS). The 7,000km MainOne cable system – which went live in July 2010 – now has an upgradable capacity of over 10Tbps.

California-based Infinera has announced that submarine cable operator SEACOM has deployed the Infinera TM-Series platform – which is optimised for 10Gbps and 100Gbps WDM – across its metro core networks in South Africa and East Africa, as well as its East African regional backbone network. SEACOM owns and operates a high-capacity international network consisting of multiple submarine cable systems connecting Africa to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and 17,000km of terrestrial networks.

Sudan and Chad have signed an agreement to interconnect their respective fibre-optic backbone networks. According to Journal du Chad, work on the USD38.6 million fibre-optic link from N’Djamena via Abeche and Adre (all Chad) to Al Junaynah (Sudan) reportedly started in June 2014, in cooperation with Huawei. From Al Junaynah, Sudatel’s national fibre backbone runs to Port Sudan via Khartoum, thus enabling landlocked Chad to benefit from a connection to the Port Sudan Cables Station, which hosts several international submarine cables, such as EASSy, FALCON, SAS-1 and SAS-2. TeleGeography notes that Chad was first connected to international submarine cable systems in 2012 via Cameroon, following the signing of an interconnection agreement between Societe d’Infrastructures des Communications Electroniques du Tchad (SITCOM-Tchad) and CamTel.

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Alcatel-Lucent, CamTel (Blue), Infinera, MainOne Cable, SEACOM, SubCom

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