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

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20 May 2016

Finland-based Cinia Group has launched commercial operations over its newly build C-Lion submarine cable, which links Finland and Germany across the Baltic Sea. The 1,200km fibre-optic system has landing stations in Rostock in the north German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Finland’s capital Helsinki and consists of eight optical fibre pairs, with a total capacity of 144Tbps. The new system offers a low-latency route between Europe and Asia via the so-called northern Silk Road route, connecting Europe to China via Finland and Russia.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation will upgrade the IMEWE cable system with 100Gbps DWDM technology, thus increasing the transmission capacity to 5.6Tbps, under a contract signed in October 2015. The upgrade, which will involve the installation of submarine line terminal equipment (SLTE) and terrestrial line terminal equipment (TLTE) in eight countries, is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2016. In addition to an increase in the ultimate capacity, Mitsubishi Electric will also double the data capacity per rack and improve the total power consumption per cable station. The 12,000km IMEWE has ten terminal stations in India, Pakistan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Italy and France and is owned by a consortium of nine telecom operators. Previously, in 2012 Mitsubishi Electric upgraded the system with 40Gbps DWDM technology.

Russian national operator Rostelecom has revealed that it completed the upgrade of its backbone network in the Magadan region, in addition to announcing the commercial launch of the first section of a fibre-optic cable aiming to connect the Kamchatka, Sakhalin and Magadan regions across the Okhotsk Sea. The first stage of the project – handled by Chinese equipment vendor Huawei – was completed in September 2015 and involved the deployment of 930km of fibre-optic cabling between Ola in Magadan and Okha (Sakhalin). The operator will now commence work on the Okha-Ust-Bolsheretsk stretch, which is due for completion by October this year. The whole system – which is now scheduled to enter commercial operation in Q1 2017 – will span 2,000km and have a total capacity of 400Gbps, with the option to expand this to up to 8Tbps in the future.

Algerian fixed line incumbent operator Algerie Telecom has revealed that the Marseilles-Annaba section of the SeaMeWe-4 submarine cable system experienced a ‘technical problem’ on Thursday 19 May, causing the complete failure of the Oran Link network. The Algerian section of the cable was said to be back in service shortly after, following the repair of defective equipment at the Marseille station.

State-owned Nepal Telecom (NT) has completed the deployment of a fibre-optic network linking Nepal with China, Xinhua reports. The newly constructed link stretches from the capital Kathmandu to the Nepal-China border point of Rasuwagadi via Galchhi (Dhading District) and Dhunche (Rasuwa District). NT is now planning to trial a direct traffic exchange between Nepal, China and India this month. NT official Dilliram Adhikari said: ‘Nepal can now establish global connectivity through Hong Kong via China, or Singapore via India. Service will become cheaper and faster from June after connecting with both the hubs in Hong Kong and Singapore. Internet sharing can also be done along with that.’

Pakistan’s Special Communication Organisation has launched a new USD44 million project aiming to link Pakistan with China, with plans to complete the fibre-optic link within two years, the Economic Times reports. The 820km Pakistan-China Optical Fibre Cable Project, which is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), will link Rawalpindi in Pakistan’s Punjab region with Khunjerab – located in the Gilgit-Baltistan region on the China-Pakistan border – thus providing an alternative route between Pakistan and China. India has reportedly expressed its objection to the proposed corridor as it seeks to establish a passage through Pakistan-administered Kashmir region, which is disputed between the two south Asian neighbours.

Asian dark fibre and Ethernet provider Superloop has reportedly confirmed an end-2016 target completion date for its submarine cable TKO Express running across Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, linking the data centre campuses of Chai Wan and Tseung Kwan O (TKO); Superloop claims it will deliver the shortest diverse, low-latency route in Hong Kong. Superloop, which already operates dark fibre networks in Singapore and Australia, finalised its Hong Kong network rollout plans in December 2015; its website gives a December 2016 target date for completing a 110km fibre ring backbone system linking 38 data centres and enterprise buildings in Hong Kong. Whilst the full completion of the Hong Kong infrastructure is pending, Superloop’s Ethernet services will go live between certain key data centres in Hong Kong from July 2016.

Anchorage-based Quintillion Subsea Holdings has confirmed that it has acquired the assets of Canadian telecoms firm Arctic Fibre, as part of a plan to build a fibre-optic submarine cable from Asia to Europe via Alaska. The founding shareholders of Arctic Fibre hold an ownership stake in Quintillion, which is majority owned by New York-based private investment firm Cooper Investment Partners; Oppenheimer & Co acted as exclusive financial advisor to Arctic Fibre. Construction work on the Alaskan portion of the project is scheduled to be completed in early 2017. It will comprise a terrestrial link from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks, where it will connect to existing networks reaching Anchorage and the Pacific Northwest, providing a fibre link between the continental US and the Arctic. A 1,850km subsea section meanwhile will stretch from Prudhoe Bay along the North Slope and the Bering Strait coast to Nome with landing stations at Barrow, Wainwright, Point Hope and Kotzebue. Under the Pacific Section of the project (stage two), the system will be extended from the branching unit offshore of Nome to Japan, with options for additional spurs into Alaska. Phase three will extend the subsea system from Prudhoe Bay via the Northwest Passage, Greenland, across the Atlantic Ocean to the UK, with spurs into select communities in the Canadian Arctic.

Finally, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica is planning to buy a site in Corporate Landing, Virginia Beach (Virginia) with a view to building a 20,000 square foot data centre, in order to accommodate its planned submarine cable system dubbed BRUSA. 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 (US) – is expected to be ready for service (RFS) by early 2018. The Virginia Beach Development Authority approved the property sale for USD735,000. ‘These companies cluster, and we plan to leverage the Telefonica announcement to bring more data centres to the city,’ Virginia Beach Economic Development Director Warren Harris said in a news release.

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