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

5 Feb 2016

Sri Lanka Telecom (STL) has unveiled the local landing station for the in-deployment SeaMeWe-5 submarine cable, which will link the Middle East with South East Asia and Western Europe when completed. The facility has been constructed in Matara, a major city on the southern coast of the Southern Province. The new 20,000km international link will have design capacity of 24Tbps and is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) in November 2016. The SeaMeWe-5 cable will ultimately link a total of 17 countries, namely: Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Italy and France. Elsewhere, Telecom Italia Sparkle has revealed that the SeaMeWe-5 cable link to the landing station in Catania (Sicily) – which will act as the main hub of the Mediterranean – has been completed. The infrastructure, which is scheduled to be RFS by the end of this year, will enhance existing routes, allowing the diversification of traffic between Europe and Asia. TI Sparkle’s connectivity solutions on the SeaMeWe-5 out of Sicily will be available through its carrier-neutral data centre – Sicily Hub – located in Palermo.

The Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) consortium – comprising telecoms operators such as China Unicom, Etisalat, Mobily, Ooredoo, PCCW Global, TOT and Viettel – has contracted Xtera Communications to supply equipment for three terrestrial segments of the AAE-1 network. The 25,000km AAE-1 submarine cable system connecting Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe is scheduled to be RFS in Q4 2016. Xtera will upgrade the AAE-1 terrestrial networks in Egypt, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore with its Wise Raman optical amplification and flex-rate channel card technologies, thus enabling 200G channels over long distances. The Malaysia-Singapore terrestrial segment will terminate directly in two separate data centres in Singapore.

Talks between Auckland-based Hawaiki Cable and New York private equity firm Stonepeak International Partners with regards to USD150 million of additional funding for the construction of a trans-Pacific fibre-optic submarine link have reportedly stalled, Stuff.co.nz reports. Work on the 13,127km fibre-optic cable – which will link Australia, New Zealand and the US with a number of South Pacific Islands and Hawaii – was initially scheduled to commence in 2013, but the lack of capital has led to several delays, with the most recent RFS date announced as Q3 2017. Hawaiki’s CEO Remi Galasso revealed that Hawaiki signed up a new ‘tier-1’ US telecoms company as a customer last month, thus reducing the required equity funding for the deployment. Other customers which have agreed to pre-buy capacity on the cable include Vodafone and Crown-owned research network operator REANNZ. TeleGeography notes that a similar project, the USD400 million Pacific Fibre venture, collapsed in 2012 after failing to secure the required funding.

America Movil’s (AM’s) subsidiary Latam Telecommunications, the licensed operator of the America Movil Submarine Cable System-1 (AMX-1), said in an ex parte filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the rules proposed to mandate undersea cable line outage reporting risk imposing significant burdens on submarine operators. The company said: ‘Any real-time reporting obligations will force operators to expend considerable resources on reporting and divert their attention away from crucial diagnostic and restoration efforts.’ Latam said it agrees with AT&T that the cost to implement the reporting proposals could be hundreds of times more than the estimated USD8,000. The filing follows similar complaints in December by the Submarine Cable Coalition. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in September 2015 the FCC proposed that submarine cable outages which affect more than 50% of traffic for 30 minutes or more must be reported. The FCC outlined that operators would have to provide details on the nature and impact of any damage and disruption to communications, help mitigate any impact on emergency services and consumers, and assist in service restoration.

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan are planning to roll out a regional fibre-optic network under a joint Digital CASA project, to be partly-funded by the World Bank, Tazabek reports. Taalay Bayterekov, director of the Kyrgyzstan Centre of Electronic Services, said that the Kyrgyzstani section of the network – which will be deployed with initial budget of USD15 million provided by the World Bank – will see parts of Naryn, Issuk-Kul and Chui regions covered by fibre-optic infrastructure within three years of the project’s commencement.

Chile and China have signed a collaboration agreement which includes, among other things, to carry out a study on the feasibility of deploying a 35,000km fibre-optic cable connecting the two countries, TeleSemana reports. Further, China has reportedly expressed an interest in the Austral Fiber Optic Project, which aims to connect Puerto Montt (in southern Chile) to Puerto Williams via 3,000km of terrestrial cabling. Nianxiu Lin, vice president of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, was cited as saying that Chinese companies could participate in the project, which is valued at USD100 million.

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