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

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23 Sep 2016

The Indian government has approved a USD150 million project to deploy a fibre-optic submarine cable across the Bay of Bengal, linking the city of Chennai – the capital of the Tamil Nadu state – and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (ANI), a union territory of India situated 200km east of the mainland. The Hindu reports that the Optical Fibre Cable (OFC), which is expected to be completed by December 2018, will connect Chennai with Port Blair and five other islands – Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Havelock, Kamorta and Great Nicobar. Currently, the ANI archipelago relies solely on expensive satellite connections, which are capped at 1Gbps of bandwidth.

The Tasman Global Access (TGA) undersea cable is now in the final stages of construction, and is expected to be ready for service (RFS) by the end of January 2017. The 2,300km direct link between Raglan (New Zealand) and Narrabeen Beach (Australia) will incorporate two fibre pairs with a current design capacity of 20Tbps; to date, the Ile de Re ship has deployed nine out of a total of 20 repeaters on the cable, while the shore landing at Narrabeen Beach was completed last month. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, the TGA consortium – comprising Spark New Zealand (formerly Telecom New Zealand), Telstra and Vodafone – awarded the TGA deployment contract to Paris-based equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent (now part of Nokia) in January 2015. The new system will provide an alternative path for trans-Tasman traffic – currently routed via Tasman-2 and Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) – and is expected to significantly improve New Zealand’s international connectivity options.

Irish businessman Denis O’Brien, founder and chairman of Digicel Group’s board of directors, has revealed an ambitious plan to invest up to USD450 million in a fibre-optic submarine cable linking a number of countries in the Caribbean region. Bloomberg quoted the executive as saying: ‘We are going to lay submarine cable to about 30 countries. That project is about USD350 million, but we’re thinking about upscaling it to about USD450 million to go up to about 40 countries in the Caribbean region, putting high capacity, modern submarine networks into those countries.’ Further, Mr O’Brien revealed that the investment would be a ‘personal project’ and would be kept separate from Digicel Group activities. Digicel currently operates in 31 markets across the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific regions.

C&W Networks, a division of Latin American telecoms provider Cable & Wireless Communications (C&W), has selected long-standing partner TE SubCom to complete an upgrade to the ECLink submarine cable linking Chaguaramas in Trinidad and Tobago with Willemstad (Curacao). The 938km regional system will be upgraded to support five 100 Gigabit plug-and-play wavelengths and will have two wavelengths activated. The deployment follows similar upgrades to C&W’s 2,500km CFX-1 system linking the US and Colombia with an onward branch to Jamaica, and the 8,600km ARCOS network; TE SubCom has increased C&W’s capacity across the three regional systems by 2Tbps.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has issued a USD50 million loan to Turk Telekom Group for its share of the SeaMeWe-5 submarine cable deployment project, which will link the Middle East with South East Asia and Western Europe when completed in November this year. The in-deployment 20,000km international link, with a design capacity of 24Tbps, will ultimately link a total of 17 countries – Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Italy and France. In Turkey, the fibre-optic system will land at Marmaris, which is situated in the Mugla Province.

Construction works on the SeaMeWe-5 submarine cable in the Bay of Bengal has halted for a few months due to high tides, with the postponement set to delay Bangladesh’s connection to the submarine system by a year (H1 2017), the Daily Star writes. Monwar Hossain, CEO of state-owned Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL), was cited as saying that the installation works – which were fully suspended in May – will not resume until November. At present, the cable is 9km away from the landing station at Kuakata (situated in the Patuakhali district). BSCCL officially joined the SeaMeWe-5 consortium in March 2014.

Hibernia Networks has expanded its global network platform to deliver the lowest latency connectivity from Chicago (US) to Moscow (Russia) and Mumbai (India), in addition to improving latency on the Chicago-Dubai route via the transatlantic Hibernia Express submarine cable. The fibre-optic network comprises six fibre-pairs, with a portion of the fibre optimised for the lowest latency, and a portion optimised for 100Gbpsx100Gbps capacity, while the total cross-sectional design capacity of the cable is more than 53Tbps.

Spain’s Telefonica has revealed that it plans to float a minority stake of at least 36.4% of its infrastructure unit, Telxius, Bloomberg reports. It has been suggested that the shares could start trading on 3 October 2016, with Telefonica aiming to raise EUR1.48 billion (USD1.65 billion) from the initial public offering (IPO). Telxius operates Telefonica Group´s international network of 65,000km of submarine fibre-optic cables (31,000km of which are Telefonica-owned), including SAM-1, a submarine cable that connects the United States with Central and South America.

Lastly, Network Rail of the UK is no longer planning to sell its telecoms infrastructure, with the company now said to be looking at spinning off other assets to raise much needed cash for improvements to the UK’s rail network, writes. It had been reported earlier this year that Network Rail was exploring the possibility of either selling off the track-side fibre-optic network, setting up a joint-venture or providing access on a wholesale basis to telecoms firms. A spokesperson said: ‘We are not selling our telecoms network … However, we do have unused capacity in our fibre-optic network. It is commercially sensible to see if we can sell this capacity to telecoms companies – we don’t need it and they do.’

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