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

22 Apr 2016

Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica has awarded a turnkey contract to Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) for the deployment of the BRUSA submarine cable. The 11,000km fibre-optic network – which aims to link Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza (both in Brazil) with San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Virginia Beach (Virginia, US) – is expected to be ready for service (RFS) by early 2018. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in March 2016 wholesale provider Internexa, a subsidiary of Colombia’s power utility Interconexion Electrica SA (ISA), inked a deal with Telefonica to acquire rights to use dark fibre on the cable.

Five telecoms operators – MTN Group, PCCW Global, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Telecom Egypt (TE) and Telkom South Africa – have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to construct a new submarine cable connecting Africa with the Middle East and South East Asia, with onward connectivity to Europe. The new system – tentatively called Africa-1 – will utilise 100G technology and will be equipped to accommodate ‘several Terabits of capacity’ from launch. The system will have at least a three-fibre pair core extending more than 12,000km along Africa’s east coast towards Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, with an additional 5,000km worth of branches. Africa-1’s Construction and Maintenance Agreement (CMA) is expected to be signed by June 2016, with the cable scheduled to be RFS in Q3 2017. While the participating telcos have remained tight-lipped on the cost of the project, Telkom’s spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan was cited by IT Web as saying: ‘The Africa-1 Group has been conducting preliminary talks with industry players to establish interest in a new undersea cable along the east coast. Telkom has participated in these talks, but has not committed to any investment in the initiative.’ For its part, MTN claimed that it made a ‘minimal financial commitment’ to the proposed system.

Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN), now part of Nokia, will implement major upgrades on two submarine cables, which will add terabits of capacity on each route bringing more scalability and redundancy. ASN will upgrade an unnamed transpacific cable network, which is believed to be the new FASTER submarine cable system, which connects the West Coast of the US to two locations in Japan (Chikura and Shima) and Tanshui in Taiwan. On the transatlantic route, ASN will upgrade an unnamed submarine cable system linking the UK to the US over a distance of 6,500km. Both systems will be upgraded with ASN’s 1620 SOFTNODE, which offers improved spectral efficiency on both new and legacy systems with third generation coherent technology at bit rates of up to 400Gbps.

The Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) Consortium – comprising telecoms operators Dialog Axiata of Sri Lanka, Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman’s Omantel, Reliance Jio Infocomm (India), Telekom Malaysia and UK-based Vodafone – has revealed the launch of the 8,100km BBG submarine cable linking Malaysia and Singapore to Oman and the UAE, with additional branches to India and Sri Lanka. The new fibre-optic submarine cable – which is claimed to be the ‘first dark fibre system to be lit at 100G’ – uses dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology and boasts a design capacity of 55Tbps, with initial equipped capacity of 9Tbps.

Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) – one of the members of the AAE-1 consortium – has announced the successful landing of the Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) cable system in the French city of Marseille. The 25,000km submarine network – which has a design capacity of 40Tbps – will connect Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe, and is scheduled to be RFS by Q4 2016.

Negotiations between the Tasmanian government and SubPartners in regards to the deployment of a third fibre-optic cable connecting mainland Australia to the island state of Tasmania have reportedly stalled, ABC reports. The company previously announced plans to lay a 5,300km submarine cable from Perth to Sydney – dubbed APC-Central – and reportedly suggested an additional spur to connect Tasmania at either Hobart or George Town. In April 2015 technology minister Michael Ferguson hired WorleyParsons’ global advisory arm Advisian to assess whether the state should connect to the cable, though this week the official told the media outlet that SubPartners had never followed through with a firm proposition. As reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium earlier this month, SubPartners inked an MoU with Telstra and SingTel Group for the construction of the APX-West submarine cable linking Perth with Singapore; work on the system is expected to commence in July with a scheduled completion date of 2018.

Ciena has been selected by KDDI Corporation for an upgrade to the Japan Information Highway (JIH) submarine cable. Following the deployment of Ciena’s GeoMesh submarine solutions, KDDI will be able to provide 100G services on its 3,000km link from Miyazaki-to-Okinawa and Shima-to-Okinawa. Further, the vendor is also upgrading Tampnet’s North Sea submarine fibre-optic network linking UK and Norway to a number of offshore platforms with its 6500 Packet-Optical Platform. The expansion of the 2,500km multi-terabit network will create an alternative gateway between PoPs in London, Leeds and Aberdeen (all UK) to Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger and Bergen (Norway) and Stockholm (Sweden). Lambda Networks, a Ciena BizConnect partner, has coordinated the design and delivery of Tampnet’s network upgrade.

Lastly, Xtera Communications has expanded its portfolio of products for submarine cable networks with a subsea branching unit (BU). The system will enable complex and reconfigurable network architecture for more flexible capacity configurations and simpler fault recovery, Xtera says.

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