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

14 Oct 2016

Internet giants Facebook and Google have confirmed their participation in the deployment of the planned Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), which will directly connect Hong Kong with Los Angeles. Scheduled for commercial launch in the summer of 2018, the 12,800km PLCN will feature TE SubCom ‘C+L’ technology, which effectively doubles the available bandwidth and capacity per fibre pair over a traditional C-band-only design system. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, newly established Hong Kong-based firm Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) – a subsidiary of investment fund China Soft Power Technology Holding Limited (CSPTHL) – selected TE SubCom for the construction of the PLCN system in November 2015. The fibre-optic network is expected to cost roughly USD400 million. Mr Wei Junkang, the chairman of PLDC, commented: ‘PLCN will be among the lowest-latency fibre-optic routes between Hong Kong and the US and the first to connect directly using ultra-high-capacity transmission … We envision this deployment as the initial step in PLDC’s construction of a global network.’ Note: for further reading on PLCN see the TeleGeography blog link at the foot of this article, whilst further background can be found in other TeleGeography blog entries (e.g. blog.telegeography.com/rising-tide-content-providers-investment-in-submarine-cables-continues). For additional reference see also TeleGeography’s Submarine Cable Map website e.g. www.submarinecablemap.com/#/submarine-cable/pacific-light-cable-network-plcn.

Huawei Marine has announced that it will deploy a national submarine cable system for Papua New Guinea’s wholly-state owned provider PNG DataCo Limited. The 5,457km submarine cable network will provide domestic connectivity across 14 of PNG’s largest population centres, with international connectivity delivered via a link to Jayapura in Indonesia. When completed, the network – with design capacity of 8Tbps – will cover 55% of the population and will provide more than 70% of Papua New Guinea’s domestic bandwidth requirements. Paul Komboi, managing director of DataCo, said: ‘This new system is very important to Papua New Guinea as it not only includes a new submarine cable network but also provides internet gateways and data centres. This will improve the whole ICT infrastructure in the country and greatly increase network coverage, capacity and the availability of Internet and broadband services to end users.’

The Hawaiki trans-Pacific cable, linking Australia and New Zealand to the US, remains on schedule for a mid-2018 completion, vendor TE SubCom has confirmed, noting that it has now commenced manufacturing of the system at its facilities in Newington, New Hampshire. Further, as part of its commitment to the connectivity of Pacific Islands, Hawaiki has added three additional branching units to enable the future connection of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. Among Hawaiki’s achievements thus far, it says that 1,000km of lightweight cable has been manufactured to date; the deep-sea survey between Oregon and Hawaii has been completed, including the branch to American Samoa; and detailed landing surveys have been completed for sites in Pacific City, Oregon and Kapolei, Hawaii.

In a related development, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed that an application for a Submarine Cable Landing Licence has now been filed by Hawaiki Submarine Cable USA, Tillamook Lightwave, ACS Cable Systems, DRFortress and the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA). According to the document, HSC has entered into a contractual agreement with Tillamook Lightwave to lease space in its existing landing station in Pacific City, while ASTCA, the government-owned incumbent local exchange carrier in American Samoa, will own, construct and operate the spur connecting American Samoa to a branching unit. ASCTA will also will own, construct and operate the cable landing station in Tafuna.

One Pacific island that still lacks the required funding for an additional branch to the Hawaiki cable, however, is Norfolk Island, which is located between Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia, 1,412km directly east of mainland Australia’s Evans Head. Triworlds, a group representing the territory’s interests, has submitted a report to the Australian government, entitled: ‘Pacific Jewel or Welfare State? Australian Government actions needed now to secure Norfolk Island’s telecommunications future’. The Australian government’s current approach to Internet on Norfolk Island is for each home to have a satellite dish, while the group desires access to the cable, ahead of a planned fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) launch in the towns of Burnt Pine and Kingston. The report notes that the Southern Cross NEXT Cable is expected to be deployed within the next 18 months, but it is understood that the distance from Norfolk Island would be considerably further than Hawaiki. The Anson Bay Cable Station – which hosted the ANZCAN submarine cable from 1983-2001 – can be updated for approximately USD750,000, Triworlds notes.

Algeria’s telecoms minister Iman Houda Feraoun has revealed that the 560km *Oran-Valencia (Orval)* submarine cable linking Oran in Algeria to Valencia (Spain) – which was scheduled to land on Algerian shores in October 2016 – will be delayed ‘by three months’, Huff Post Maghreb reports. The setback is caused by a ‘poor’ feasibility study of the cable landing station at Trouville, with a second study increasing the costs of the project by 17.5% (nearly USD1 million). As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in May 2015 Algeria’s Ministry of Posts, IT and Communications signed a turnkey agreement for the construction of the Orval fibre-optic network with Alcatel-Lucenet, which is now part of Nokia. The 100Gbps system will deliver an ultimate design capacity of 20Tbps when completed.

In Quebec (Canada), the Kativik Regional Government has awarded a contract to WFN Strategies for the undertaking of a feasibility study on the proposed Eastern Arctic Undersea Fibre Optic Network (EAUFON), which seeks to connect 24 communities in the Nunavik region (comprising the northern third of the Quebec province). The study will be focused on the feasibility of the installation of a submarine cable with landings in each of the 24 communities, with connections to pre-existing network end-points in Chisasibi (Quebec) and Charlottetown (Newfoundland). In addition, the study will look into the feasibility of installing a fibre-optic cable between the communities of Kuujjuaq and Schefferville, to connect with network end-points located in Schefferville.

In Alaska, meanwhile, the FCC has confirmed that it has received an application regarding the transfer of control of the cable landing licence for the Kodiak-Kenai Fiber Link Cable System (KKFL System), held by Kodiak Kenai Fiber Link (KKFL), from Old Harbor Native Corporation to GCI Communications Corp (GCIC). The KKFL System is a non-common carrier cable system connecting Anchorage, Homer, Kenai, Kodiak Island, and Seward, Alaska. KKFL is owned, on an indirect basis, by Old Harbor and Ouzinkie Native Corporation (Ouzinkie), Alaska entities incorporated under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Old Harbor holds 90% of the member interests of KKFL and Ouzinkie holds the remaining 10% member interests. Old Harbor, GCIC, and Ouzinkie entered into an agreement dated 29 July 2016, by which GCIC will acquire all of the outstanding member interests of KKFL’s parent company, Kodiak Kenai Cable Company (KKCC), and thereby acquire control of the KKFL System. Following consummation, KKCC and KKFL will be direct and indirect subsidiaries, respectively, of GCIC, and GCIC will operate and maintain the KKFL System.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) will invest USD25 million in equity capital in Dublin-based network solutions provider Aqua Communications (AquaComms) ‘to further accelerate customer growth on its existing networks as well as exploratory works on planned new routes’. In addition, ISIF has advised of its conditional interest in providing additional USD25 million of equity capital alongside a similar amount from co-investment partner Cartesian Capital Group to accelerate the expansion of AquaComms’ planned new routes. Cartesian has previously invested USD50 million in equity capital in AquaComms. AquaComms currently operates a number of subsea fibre-optic networks, including the 6,300km America-Europe Connect (AEConnect) and the CeltixConnect, a subsea link connecting Ireland to the UK across the Irish Sea.

Finally, Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) and Nokia Bell Labs have achieved a total transmission capacity of 65Tbps over a 6,600km single mode fibre. The lab trial used submarine grade dual band erbium doped fibre amplifiers, which will help extend the capability of transoceanic cable systems to meet increasing data traffic demand. The trial leveraged Bell Labs’ new Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS) technology, a new modulation technique that maximises the distance and capacity of high speed transmission in optical networks.

We welcome your feedback about the Cable Compendium. If you have any questions, topic suggestions, or corrections, please email editors@commsupdate.com.

http://blog.telegeography.com/google-and-facebook-have-joined-the-pacific-light-cable-project