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

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19 Aug 2016

The government of Malaysia has announced that the in-deployment fibre-optic submarine cable linking Peninsula Malaysia (West Malaysia) with the states of Sabah and Sarawak is scheduled for completion in June 2017. The Rakyat Post reports Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Jailani Johari as saying that the 3,800km fibre-optic cable system will involve investments of MYR619 million (USD155 million), with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) contributing MYR412 million to the project, while the remaining MYR207 million will be provided by Telekom Malaysia, via a public-private partnership agreement. The new Sistem Kabel Rakyat 1Malaysia (SKR1M) network – designed to have an initial capacity of 4Tbps – will land in Mersing (Johor), Kuching, Bintulu and Miri (all Sarawak), Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) and Cherating (Pahang). The SKR1M system will comprise five segments: S1 connecting Mersing and Kuching; S2 (Kuching-Bintulu); S3 (Bintulu-Miri); S4 (Miri-Kota Kinabalu); and S5 (Kota Kinabalu-Cherating). Once fully completed, the SKR1M system capacity could be upgraded in stages up to 12Tbps depending on demand, Mr Johari said.

Infinera has announced the successful deployment of the Infinera DTN-X XTC Series across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Submarine Cable System. The undersea network, which connects Europe to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, is owned and operated by MENA, a subsidiary of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT). The newly deployed platform integrates the submarine network connecting the Mediterranean and Middle East regions with MENA’s existing Infinera terrestrial network. It allows MENA to deliver 100Gbps of coherent transmission capacity via 500Gbps super-channels and supports a forward scale design to provide terabit super-channels in the future.

Chinese equipment vendor Huawei and its submarine network division Huawei Marine Networks have teamed up with Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) to build a submarine cable system connecting the Belize mainland with San Pedro Island, Belize’s largest and fastest growing tourist area. The Strategic Evolution Underwater Link (SEUL) cable will span 24km, delivering a design capacity featuring 40 channels at 100G per fibre over eight fibre pairs, which will result in overall capacity of up to 32Tbps. The project is scheduled to start this summer, with an expected completion date in Q3 2017.

Elsewhere in Latin America, the World Bank and the government of Nicaragua have signed an agreement to implement a project aimed at increasing broadband access in the country’s Caribbean region. The Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP) was approved by the World Bank board of executive directors earlier this month, and the USD20.1 million credit line is expected to aid the development of interconnected broadband infrastructure. The broadband network financed by CARCIP will provide connectivity to some 48 locations, including schools, health care centres and universities, as well as micro, small and medium sized enterprises. By way of public-private partnerships, the idea is to expand coverage to close to 180,000 people in Nicaragua’s Caribbean region, including indigenous and Afro-descendent populations. Areas of focus will include Alto Coco Bocay on the Wangki River, as well as other municipalities in the Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region and the Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region. The network will also link interconnection points with backbone lines, which will strengthen those networks connecting Nicaragua with other Caribbean countries.

Mexico’s state power utility the Federal Electricity Commission (Comision Federal de Electricidad, CFE) has said that it will provide the country’s telecom operators with access to its infrastructure, which includes eleven million utility poles and 800,000km worth of fibre-optic cabling. According to local press sources the regulatory authorities will be in charge of setting the access prices, and terms could be agreed as early as December 2016.

UbuntuNet Alliance has awarded a 15-year contract to pan-African telecom enabler SEACOM to provide point-to-point connectivity services to National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) across Eastern and Southern Africa, through the European Union co-funded AfricaConnect2 project, which is valued at EUR26.6 million (USD30.1 million). SEACOM will provide capacity between Kampala (Uganda) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania); and from there to Amsterdam (Netherlands) where the UbuntuNet network peers with the European Research and Education Network (aka GEANT).

In other SEACOM news, the company can now offer its business customers Ethernet links between their own IT infrastructures and Microsoft’s Azure and Office365 data centres around the world. This is expected to help African organisations that are migrating business applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud, to benefit from faster and more reliable connectivity with Microsoft’s Azure platform.

As per a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing dated 18 August, the US watchdog has approved the transfer of a submarine cable landing licence for the Asia America Gateway (AAG) from PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom Indonesia) to PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (TII). Telkom Indonesia holds, on a direct basis, 99.99% of the equity interest of TII. In parallel, the transfer of another AAG landing licence has also been approved, with the permit switching from Brunei’s Datastream Technology (DST) to the Brunei International Gateway (BIG). According to the FCC document, the applications were first filed in November and December 2010, respectively, although no reason for the delay has been provided.

US telco Windstream announced a major expansion of its advanced metropolitan fibre network in the Chicago area. The deployment means that the carrier’s advanced metro fibre network now connects its national fibre network to major data centre complexes and commercial buildings in Chicago, including Downtown, the Loop and Northwest suburbs such as Downers Grove, Elk Grove Village, Lisle and Naperville. Additional fibre expansions in markets such as Atlanta, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Philadelphia are planned throughout 2016, the telco notes.

Finally, Lightower, a regional US fibre provider serving the North-east and Chicago, is reportedly in the process of finding a buyer. Citing two unnamed sources, a CTFN report said that Level 3 and Zayo are rumoured to be interested in purchasing the fibre provider. Lightower is co-owned by three private equity firms, namely: Berkshire, Pamlico and ABRY. The last named company recently agreed to sell off its cableco units RCN and Grande Communications for nearly USD2.25 billion, adding credibility to the exit reports.

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