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

1 Jul 2016

A new trans-Pacific non-common carrier fibre-optic submarine cable – named FASTER – is now live, following the successful completion of end-to-end testing earlier this week. The 9,000km cable – which was built by NEC Corporation of Japan – connects Brandon, Oregon (US) to a number of major Asian cities, including Chikura and Shima in Japan and Tanshui (Taiwan). FASTER consists of six fibre-optic pairs with an initial design capacity of 60Tbps on the principal portion (Segments 1-4), while Segments 5 and 6 consist of two fibre pairs with 20Tbps initial design capacity. The FASTER consortium comprises Google, China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI and Singtel.

Maintenance work on the Asia-American Gateway (AAG) submarine cable has been completed as planned, with the network returning to full service speed on 28 June. TeleGeography notes that the 20,000km AAG connects south-east Asia with the US mainland, across the Pacific Ocean via Guam and Hawaii. The 314km-long Vietnam segment – which is operated by FPT Telecom, Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), Viettel Telecom and Saigon Post and Telecommunications (SPT) – is one of the main international submarine cable links serving the country.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted new rules that require submarine cable licensees to report cable outages which affect more than 50% of traffic for 30 minutes or more to its Network Outage Reporting System (NORS). As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in September 2015 the FCC proposed that all significant submarine cable outages 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.

Paraguay’s telecom regulator the National Telecommunications Council (Consejo Nacional de Telecomunicaciones, Conatel) has partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to explore the possibility of tapping into the fibre-optic networks used by the Itaipu and Yacyreta hydroelectric plants in order to connect with regional submarine cables, reports local daily ABC. While landlocked Paraguay launched its first IXP last month, it still relies on the networks of neighbouring Argentina and Brazil for its international backbone connectivity.

Germany-based network solutions supplier Coriant has been selected by Lithuanian operator Bite to deploy 100G services in Lithuania as part of a nationwide upgrade to its fibre-optic network infrastructure. Delivered in collaboration with local partner Telekomservisas, the 100G service milestone and state-of-the-art network upgrade will enable Bite to meet current and future capacity demands. With the ability to scale up to 25.6Tbps of system capacity when deployed in conjunction with Coriant’s CloudWave Optics technology, the vendor’s hiT 7300 platform provides Bite with a cost-efficient path to higher data transmission rates, including 400G.

Australian operator Vocus Communications is planning to buy smaller rival Nextgen Networks from Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Spanish-controlled infrastructure giant CIMIC Group (formerly called Leighton Holdings) in a deal worth approximately AUD807 million (USD600 million). The acquisition will see Vocus acquire all of Nextgen’s backhaul assets in addition to two in-development projects, the North West Cable System (NWCS)and the Australia-Singapore Cable (ASC). The proposed deal does not include Nextgen’s data centre business Metronode, which operates as a separate entity. When completed in 2016, the NWCS system will stretch 2,000km and will connect Darwin to Port Hedland (both in Australia). For its part, the 4,600km ASC – which is estimated to cost USD120 million – will directly connect Perth (Australia) to Singapore via Jakarta (Indonesia), providing a 100Gbps connection from Western Australia to south-east Asia. The infrastructure is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) in 2017.

Pan-African fibre-optic provider Liquid Telecom – majority-owned by Econet Wireless – has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in South African telecoms operator Neotel from controlling shareholder Tata Communications and Nexus Connexion-led minority shareholders for ZAR6.55 billion (USD430.8 million). ‘The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is transformative and will create the largest pan-African broadband network … Through a single access point, businesses across Africa will be able to access 40,000km of cross-border, metro and access fibre networks. These currently span twelve countries from South Africa to Kenya, with further expansion planned,’ Liquid said in a press release.

US-based network provider Electric Lightwave has deployed Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform to deliver 200G wavelengths on a 225 route mile fibre-optic network between Hillsboro, Oregon and Seattle. This new technology will enable Electric Lightwave to double WAN connectivity speeds and efficiently deliver on increasing bandwidth demands.

Finally, Sweden’s Hexatronic has finalised the acquisition of Ericsson’s fibre and duct operations in Wellington, New Zealand for SEK30 million (USD3.6 million). The deal was agreed on 24 May. Hexatronic intends to continue operating the business under the Hexatronic New Zealand banner.

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