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

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10 Mar 2017

An international intergovernmental treaty for the deployment of a submarine cable – called Manatua – linking the Pacific Islands of Niue, Samoa, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia has been signed, Megazap writes. The proposed cable will complement the existing 4,805km Honotua cable between French Polynesia and Hawaii, which is operated by OPT French Polynesia. Going forward, the governments of the four countries will now designate the telecoms companies to implement the project, with an international call for a cable construction and maintenance contract expected to be awarded this year. TeleGeography notes that another submarine cable project – developed by Auckland-based Hawaiki – is currently ongoing in the area, with the submarine route survey for the system completed in January 2017. The 13,127km Hawaiki Cable will link Australia, New Zealand and the US with a number of South Pacific Islands and Hawaii, with a ready for service (RFS) date of June 2018.

Hong Kong-based EGS has commenced the marine survey for the USD350 million NEXT submarine cable aiming to connect Clovelly (Australia) with Los Angeles (US). EGS’ survey vessel Geo Resolution is expected to complete the project – comprising the tracking of 12,500km of ocean floor from Clovelly to Los Angeles – in four months. The NEXT project, which is developed by Southern Cross Cables – owned by Telecom NZ (50%), Singtel-Optus (40%) and Verizon (10%) – will interconnect with existing Southern Cross systems, as well as 15 cable station and data-centre locations currently accessible by Southern Cross Cables across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii and the US. The NEXT cable is expected to provide an additional 60Tbps of capacity for customers when completed in 2019, adding to the existing 20Tbps of capacity of the current Southern Cross systems.

Mauritius Telecom (MT) has won the government’s public tender to supply the island of Rodrigues with additional bandwidth capacity over the next 20 years, writes. MT – which was revealed as the sole bidder in the tender – proposed a total of USD97.9 million for the project. Under the terms of the contract, the successful bidder must provide 10Gbps of additional international bandwidth for the first five years of the contract duration, reaching 100Gbps by the end of the fifteenth year. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in November 2016 MT and Indian Ocean Exchange Limited (IOX) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build an open access cable system, called IOX Cable. The USD150 million cable system will connect Rodrigues and Mauritius to ‘the rest of the world’, with potential branches to Reunion and Madagascar. The IOX Cable is expected to be ready for commercial service by the first quarter of 2019. TeleGeography notes that Mauritius is currently served by the SAFE and Lower Indian Ocean Network (LION) cables, while another in-development project – Africa-1 – is scheduled to be RFS in Q4 2018.

The TIGER consortium, which was formed to build and operate an international terrestrial cable system from the Arabian Gulf to Europe via Iraq, Kurdistan and Turkey, has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Bahraini telecom and information services company Rapid Telecom. The TIGER cable system topology is based on utilising existing networks of operators in the region, in order to reduce total cost of the network and the system’s deployment time. Further, Rapid Telecom is in the process of acquiring Middle Eastern terrestrial fibre-optic cable system GCCIX, connecting Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. Shaikh Hamad bin Khalid Al Khalifa, chairman of Rapid Telecom, said the decision to acquire the GCCIX cable system was prompted by his company’s efforts to enhance its international reach.

Infrastructure and data services provider Retelit and global international communications enabler BICS have developed a new backhaul product by combining their respective infrastructures across Italy and Europe via Retelit’s AAE-1 landing in Bari (Italy). The new joint connectivity solution enables AAE-1 submarine cable users to be connected through Bari to Milan, Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris and other key European locations, with an end-to-end solution with premium Service Level Agreements (SLAs). BICS relies on 19 submarine cables to support its global connectivity network.

Ireland’s open-access network operator enet has entered the UK market via a strategic network partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms. Under the deal, enet will utilise SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ full range of dark fibre, carrier Ethernet and optical networking services across 13,700km of national network. Additionally, enet also gained access to over 265 PoPs, with further expansion planned over the next twelve months, as well as over 76 UK on-net commercial data centres and over 2,000 PoPs from other key players in the market.

Deloitte’s Telecom Engineering EMEA Centre of Excellence and Subsea Networks have announced a cooperation agreement to bring a new and specialised offer to the submarine telecoms industry. The combined team will offer end-to-end business consultancy and engineering support through the full submarine cable and data centre connectivity life cycle, from initial concept to operations and upgrades. Jol Paling, Managing Director of Subsea Networks, commented: ‘With the convergence of subsea and terrestrial networks and the ever-expanding demand for data transport and internet connectivity, together we have all the skills and resources required to support those key industry entrepreneurs and established telecoms companies looking to build and connect data centres with terrestrial and subsea networks.’

Zimbabwean telecoms regulator POTRAZ has reportedly resumed discussions for the establishment of the country’s second Internet Exchange Point (IXP), domestic news source TechZim writes. Zimbabwe’s sole IXP is currently managed by the Zimbabwe Internet Services Providers Association (ZISPA), though it has reportedly been plagued by a plethora of routing problems.

North-eastern US fibre provider FirstLight Fiber has agreed to acquire Finger Lakes Technologies Group (FLTG), a subsidiary of Trumansburg Telephone Company (TTC), for an undisclosed sum. FLTG provides data, internet and voice solutions to business customers in New York and Pennsylvania via its fibre-optic network spanning 2,500 route miles. Following the acquisition, FirstLight will offer increased fibre density in Upstate New York and expand its services in the Northern Pennsylvania region. TeleGeography notes that in early 2017 FirstLight Fiber’s parent Oak Hill Capital Partners merged the operations of FirstLight with Oxford Networks, a leading fibre-optic bandwidth infrastructure services provider operating in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts (acquired by Oak Hill in January 2017), while another deal – completed in August 2017 – will see FirstLight absorb US-based fibre provider Sovernet Communications, thus extending FirstLight Fiber’s reach further west into Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester (New York).

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