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

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1 Apr 2016

Algeria’s telecoms minister Iman Houda Feraoun has revealed that the 560km Orval submarine cable linking Oran in Algeria to Valcencia (Spain) will enter commercial services in February 2017. In an interview with the Algerie Presse Service (APS), the minister said: ‘The submarine cable linking Oran to Valencia (Spain) … will be operational in February 2017 under the agreement concluded for the purpose.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in May 2015 the Ministry of Posts, IT and Communications (MPTIC) and equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent signed a turnkey agreement for the construction of the Orval fibre-optic network. The 100Gbps system will deliver an ultimate design capacity of 20Tbps when completed.

Nigeria’s link to the SAT-3 submarine cable system, which was operated by Nigeria Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), has now been repaired and activated, according to NITEL’s new owner NATCOM. The repair reportedly included the cable’s physical diversion away from shipping lanes in the approach to the Port of Lagos. In addition, the company commenced Upgrade IV of the system, which will see its capacity more than double from 420Gbps to 920Gbps in the northern segments and from 340Gbps to 800Gbps in the southern branches. Going forward, the system will surpass the 1,000 STM-1 mark with Upgrade V, which is scheduled for completion by 4Q16. The 14,350km SAT-3/WASC cable – which stretches from Sesimbra (Portugal) to Melkbosstrand (South Africa) – was built by a consortium of 32 operators, including telecoms giants AT&T, Verizon, Orange Group, Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom, and entered commercial services in April 2002. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, the submarine cable link to Nigeria was cut in June 2013 during a land reclamation project, with NITEL said to have lost around USD6 million in revenues during the period in which the infrastructure was inactive.

India’s northeastern states are currently importing only 3Gbps of the 10Gbps of bandwidth from Bangladesh due to ‘infrastructural constraints’, The Financial Express writes. Monwar Hossain, Managing Director of Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL), said: ‘Though India is importing 3Gbps now, they have not yet built network to use the bandwidth. They said the full network setup will take more six months at least.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in early February 2016 BSCCL began exporting 10Gbps of unused bandwidth on a trial basis to the northeastern Indian state of Tripura, in line with a deal signed with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in June 2015. The terrestrial cable link between the two countries – which stretches from Cox’s Bazar landing station (Bangladesh) to Agartala, located in Tripura, via Akhaura (Brahmmanbaria District) – was completed in November 2015, though the import of the bandwidth was delayed on several occasions. TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium notes that the agreement will be in force for four years, with an option to increase the supplied bandwidth to 40Gbps, depending on Indian requirements; BSCCL will receive BDT96.0 million (USD1.2 million) per year under the deal.

Basslink Group CEO Malcolm Eccles has disclosed that his company has located the fault on the Basslink submarine cable linking mainland Australia to the island state of Tasmania, ABC News reports. The executive said: ‘[We’re talking] about a 300km section of submarine cable and a fault that’s the size of a human thumb, it’s like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.’ Despite locating the fault, Basslink said that the repair process will be further delayed due to damaged cable insulation, with a new repair deadline of mid-June 2016.

OFS has expanded its ultra-long haul product line with the introduction of TeraWave SCUBA Optical Fiber – offering a combination of large effective area, cabling performance in the C-band and L-band and low attenuation – which enables reliable coherent transmission at 100Gbps and beyond over trans-oceanic distances.

Telecoms infrastructure project developer SubPartners has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Singaporean operator Singtel Group and Aussie counterpart Telstra to build out a new international submarine cable linking Perth and Singapore. Construction on the new system, APX-West, will begin by 31 July 2016 with a scheduled completion date of 2018. Once completed, APX-West will span over 4,500km carrying traffic between the two locations via two fibre pairs providing two-way data transmission, with each pair having a minimum design capacity of 10Tbps, terminating in facilities operated by the consortium members in Singapore and Australia. Commenting on the MoU signing, Bevan Slattery, SubPartners founder and CEO, said: ‘The MoU is a major milestone for the project, with the foundation parties including Singtel, SubPartners and Telstra committing to purchase the entire available capacity on the system.’

Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) and Finnish intelligent connectivity solutions provider Cinia this week demonstrated a record data capacity of 144Tbps on the C-Lion1 submarine cable system, using ASN’s 1620 SOFTNODE 8QAM technology over eight fibre pairs (i.e. 18Tbps per fibre pair). The two firms note that the test highlighted C-Lion1’s ability to handle increased connectivity and data centre requirements in a market being driven by cloud computing, big data and increased digitisation. Linking Germany and Finland, C-Lion1 connects data centres in Northern and Central Europe, and offers a low-latency route between Europe and Asia.

The Algerian Minister of Post and Information and Communication Technologies, Iman Houda Feraoun, this week confirmed that the African Development Bank (AfDB) has agreed, in principle, to finance the Niger-Chad fibre-optic link – the remaining unbuilt section of the in deployment Algiers-Abuja project. According to the minister, AfDB’s decision will enable all parties involved to complete the project ‘to which Algeria adhered to as part of [the New Partnership for Africa’s Development] NEPAD to open up many African countries that do not have sufficient means to ensure an internet connection as they do not have maritime boundaries.’

In a press release, Hawaiki Submarine Cable and TE SubCom have announced that the contract for the Hawaiki submarine cable system has ‘come into force and the construction phase has commenced’. The statement confirms that the Hawaiki submarine link is designed to be a new trans-Pacific cable connecting Australia and New Zealand to mainland United States, as well as Hawaii, with options to expand to several South Pacific islands. Permitting and initial route planning began in June 2015 and the system is expected to be completed by mid-2018. Once completed, the new roughly 14,000km cable will deliver more than 30Tbps of capacity via TE SubCom’s C100U+ Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE) and will allow for optional connectivity to islands along the route utilising TE SubCom’s optical add/drop multiplexing (OADM) nodes.

And finally, the Development Bank of Angola has signed USD109.7 million loan agreements with Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) to finance the construction of the Angola Cables-led South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) linking Luanda in Angola with Fortaleza in Brazil. The loan agreement is backed by a sovereign guarantee from the Angolan government. The Angola Cables consortium – including Angola Telecom, Unitel and other Angolan cellcos and ISPs – previously selected Japan’s NEC Corp to manufacture and lay the 6,200km SACS submarine system, with an estimated ready-for-service date of end-2017, while the USD300 million project also involves building a link to a US-bound submarine cable under construction at the Brazilian landing station.

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