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

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17 Mar 2017

Ezecom’s wholly owned fibre-optic subsidiary Telcotech has revealed that it has completed the construction phase of the 1,300km Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) Cable system, with the network expected to enter commercial services in April this year, The Phnom Penh Post reports. The 1,300km system – with design capacity of at least 30Tbps using 100Gbps technology – will provide connectivity between Cherating (Malaysia) and Rayong (Thailand) with a branching unit to Sihanoukville (Cambodia). Further, onward connectivity to the US will be provided via interconnection to the existing Asia-America Gateway (AAG) Cable System. The MCT project was developed in cooperation with Telekom Malaysia and Symphony Communications of Thailand, and was built by Chinese submarine network provider Huawei Marine Networks. TeleGeography notes that another cable project – led by Cambodia Fibre Optic Cable Network (CFOCN) – is aiming to link Cambodia to the high-capacity Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) subsea cable system, which is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) this month. The 25,000km network will connect Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe.

Telecoms infrastructure specialist Flexenclosure has been awarded a contract by Belau Submarine Cable Corporation (BSCC) to build a submarine cable landing station in the Republic of Palau. The landing station will serve the trans-Pacific Southeast Asia-US (SEA-US) submarine cable. Flexenclosure says the eCenter for BSSC has already been constructed at the company’s factory in Sweden and is set to be installed this spring. The SEA-US cable – currently scheduled to be RFS in Q3 2017 – will connect Indonesia to California (US) via the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii; the branch to Palau will provide the Pacific nation with its first direct submarine fibre-optic connection.

Five international companies – including Huawei, Ericsson, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), General Cable and Silica – and nine regional operators are reportedly interested in Chile’s dormant fibre-optic project Fibra Optica Austral (shelved in October 2016), under which the government aims to deploy 3,000km of fibre-optic infrastructure in the southern Patagonia region, TeleSemana writes. The project fell flat last year after Conexiones y Telefonia Austral was named as the sole company to have submitted a bid for one of the four sections of the network. The Sub-Secretariat for Telecommunications (Subtel) subsequently held a number of meetings with interested parties and modified some of the terms and conditions of the tender document. Under the government’s new timeframe, a new call for bids will be launched by the regulator in April, while the deployment contract is expected to be awarded in July. The Fibra Optica Austral project is estimated to require an investment of USD100 million.

Alaska-based provider of advanced broadband and IT services Alaska Communications has entered into a deal with Anchorage-based Quintillion Subsea Holdings, under which it aims to provide fibre-optic access to rural Northwest Alaska communities. The two companies first partnered in April 2015 by acquiring a fibre-optic network from ConocoPhillips in Alaska’s North Slope Borough. The new deal allows Alaska Communications to connect the original fibre to its existing network via Quintillion’s new terrestrial network, called Quintillion Cable System, which stretches from Prudence Bay to Fairbanks. In exchange, Quintillion will purchase capacity for its terrestrial system on Alaska’s fibre-optic network from Fairbanks to Lower 48. TeleGeography notes that Quintillion is currently deploying Phase 1 of its multi-stage submarine project aiming to connect Europe and Asia via the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic. The first phase comprises the deployment of the Prudence-Fairbanks terrestrial link (which is scheduled to enter operations in Q1 2017), in addition to a 1,850km segment (RFS in late 2017) linking the Alaskan communities of Nome and Prudhoe Bay with four branches into Kotzebue, Wainwright, Point Hope and Barrow, which will provide for future extensions to Asia and Europe. For its part, Alaska Communications currently operates the ACS Alaska-Oregon Network (AKORN) submarine cable, which connects Alaska to Oregon.

Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and Facebook have completed a successful trial of 100G and 200G technologies using Voyager – Facebook’s ‘white box’ transponder and routing solution – on Telia Carrier’s 1,089km Stockholm to Hamburg route, leveraging technology developed by Coriant. The trial, carried out in early March, demonstrated that 16QAM signalling works effectively over long distances, while also showing that decoupled DWDM transponder systems are a low cost, low power option, with sufficient flexibility and accessibility for service providers to leverage within their existing networks.

US-based network service providers CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications have announced that their respective shareholders have approved a definitive merger agreement under which CenturyLink will acquire Level 3 in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately USD34 billion, including the assumption of debt. Under the deal’s terms, CenturyLink shareholders will own approximately 51% of the combined company, and Level 3 shareholders will hold a roughly 49% stake in the enlarged entity. The deal has gained state regulatory approvals and clearances in Ohio, Utah, Nevada, Georgia and West Virginia in addition to clearances in Connecticut, Indiana and Louisiana. The two sides expect to secure the remaining state, federal and international approvals by 30 September 2017.

Oak Hill Capital Partners, the parent company of North-eastern US fibre provider FirstLight Fiber, has finalised the acquisition of Sovernet Communications, which it agreed to acquire in August 2016. Following the completion of the deal, Oak combined the operations of the two units, thus extending FirstLight Fiber’s network by approximately 3,300 fibre route miles across New York and 1,300 fibre route miles throughout Vermont, in addition to taking over Sovernet’s Tier III data unit in Burlington (Vermont). TeleGeography notes that FirstLight is currently in the process of acquiring another regional fibre operator, Finer Lakes Technologies. Once the deal is completed, FirstLight will operate a regional network consisting of approximately 12,000 route miles of high-capacity fibre in six US states and Canada, with more than 7,000 on-net locations and twelve data centres.

Lastly, South African independent data centre company Teraco Data Environments has raised a medium-term funding facility from Barclays Africa Group (formerly known as ABSA) amounting to ZAR1.2 billion (USD91.7 million). Teraco’s CFO Jan Hnizdo said that the money is earmarked for investment into the company’s data centre infrastructure, namely the Teraco campus in the town of Isando (Gauteng Province). A portion of the funding has also been set aside for the construction of Teraco’s new data centre in Bredell (Gauteng). TeleGeography notes that Teraco currently operates three neutral data-centres in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

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