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

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3 Jun 2016

A consortium of seven telecoms providers representing Africa and the Middle East have signed a construction and maintenance agreement (C&MA) to build a new 5,500km submarine cable system known as the Djibouti Africa Regional Express (DARE). The carriers that make up the DARE consortium have been confirmed as Djibouti Telecom, Africa Marine Express, TeleYemen, Telesom Company, Hormuud Telecom Somalia, Golis Telecom and Somtel, while TE Subcom has been awarded the supplier contract. The cable, which will connect Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Mombasa (Kenya), Mogadishu (Somalia), Bosaso (part of Somalia’s autonomous Puntland region), Berbera (Somaliland), Mocha (Yemen) and Djibouti City (Djibouti), is expected to be completed by May 2018. The 100G cable system will deliver more than 60Tbps of capacity and each branch will be implemented with optical add/drop multiplexing nodes (OADM).

Australia’s Trident Subsea Cable has renewed its strategic partnership with Singapore-based Matrix Networks and PT. NAP Info Lintas Nusa (Napinfo) of Indonesia (together known as ‘Matrix’), the operators of the Matrix Cable System. The new partnership is expected to allow for even greater collaboration as Trident progresses towards the development phase for its high capacity fibre-optic subsea cable linking Perth, Jakarta and Singapore. The Matrix Cable System is a neutral international subsea cable carrier servicing the Jakarta to Singapore route. Under the extended partnership, Trident will collaborate with Matrix through the shared use of network operations and Matrix’s landing facilities in Singapore, Batam (a small island in Indonesia’s Riau archipelago) and Jakarta. This will allow Trident to connect four fibre pairs from Perth to the Matrix branching unit near Jakarta, with two fibre pairs each then linking to Jakarta and Singapore. Last month it was reported that Trident was working with Perth-based corporate adviser Azure Capital to raise about USD70 million and fill the equity portion of its USD200 million cable.

Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata has announced that the country has been connected to the Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) fibre-optic submarine cable via its landing station (CLS) at Mount Lavinia (South Colombo). The initial equipped capacity of the system is a 6.4Tbps, on the back of a design capacity of 55Tbps. The cable link was launched on 30 May by the president of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, while Dialog says its investment in the BBG cable project exceeds USD34.5 million.

Digicel Group is investing in a new submarine cable from Samoa to Fiji as part of its regional connectivity drive. Digicel chairman Denis O’Brien made the announcement last month, during a press conference in Suva. The Fiji Sun quotes him as saying: ‘It’s a very advanced project at the moment and it should be here by August 2017 … We want to play a full role in terms of connecting of the islands, investing in submarine cables, investing in the most modern technology available and achieve greater broadband penetration’. While Mr O’Brien did not disclose the identity of the cable in question, TeleGeography surmises that it is likely to be the Tui-Samoa cable, which is scheduled to land at Fagali’i, Samoa; Laucala Bay, Fiji; and Tuasivi, Samoa. The cable is expected to be ready for service (RFS) from the third quarter of 2017.

On 31 May Telefonica International Wholesale Services USA (TIWS USA), TI Wholesale Services Puerto Rico (TIWS Puerto Rico) and Telefonica International Wholesale Services America (TIWS America) submitted an application with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a licence to land and operate the 11,200km BRUSA submarine cable system, which will connect Virginia Beach, Virginia; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The applicants intend to commence commercial operation of the BRUSA cable system in the second quarter of 2018.

Elsewhere, the FCC has granted a cable landing licence to GU Holdings to construct, land and operate a non-common carrier submarine cable system, i.e. the FASTER cable linking the continental US, Japan and Taiwan. GU Holdings is an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Google Inc. Its partners in the venture are China Mobile International (CMI), China Telecom Global (CTG), Malaysia-based Global Transit 2 Limited (GT2L), KDDI Corporation and Singapore Telecom USA (Singtel USA). Google Cable Bermuda (GCB), which is not a licensee, owns all of Google’s capacity outside of the US. The 11,629km FASTER cable is expected to enter into service in the second quarter of 2016.

Orange Group has opened a large-capacity IP point of presence (PoP) in Amman, Jordan, in a move designed to enhance internet connectivity in the region. The telecoms group claims that the PoP will allow it to offer its wholesale customers faster connection speeds and improved reliability.

Finally, the dark fibre assets of Allied Fiber’s south-east network subsidiary will be auctioned off in July, reflecting the next step in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection process. Fierce Telecom reports that the subsidiary filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following a number of attempts to sell dark fibre on its Atlanta-to-Miami fibre route in April this year. PMCM, a Phoenix Capital Resources affiliate, has been retained by the bankruptcy court to take the south-eastern assets of Allied Fiber to market. Bidders have until 7 July to make a play for the assets, with the final auction to be held on 12 July.

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