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

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24 Mar 2017

Nokia and Facebook have claimed to more than double the capacity of existing fibre on a 5,500km trans-Atlantic subsea cable in tests with Nokia Bell Labs’ new probabilistic constellation shaping (PCS) technology. According to Nokia, the field trials of new optical digital signal processing technologies (which used shaped 64QAM) over the AEConnect (AEC) subsea link between New York and Ireland increased the stated capacity of the system by almost 2.5 times, indicating the potential to upgrade the cable to 32Tbps per fibre in the future. The test also included a successful 11,000km round trip submarine transmission using shaped 64QAM achieving a first demonstration of 200Gbps and 250Gbps wavelengths and 16QAM modulation over a trans-Atlantic submarine route using a real-time coherent digital signal processing (DSP). Stephen Grubb, global optical network architect at Facebook, said: ‘This field trial with Nokia demonstrates that the scalable optical technology of PCS together with narrow linewidth laser sources can achieve capacities extremely close to the Shannon limit. This ensures that we are both maximising our investment in submarine cable systems, as well as continuing to drive the cost per bit of submarine transport lower.’

Prysmian Group has delivered what it claimed is ‘the densest and highest fibre count underwater optical cable ever made’, following the successful deployment of the TKO Express system connecting Hong Kong’s data centre campuses of Chai Wan and Tseung Kwan O (TKO). The construction of the cable system – which features 1,728 fibre cores – was completed last month, with full end-to-end testing of the system commencing on 20 February. TKO Express is owned and operated by Asian dark fibre and Ethernet provider Superloop. Prysmian revealed that the cable was manufactured in its Calais (France) factory and was airlifted to Sydney (Australia) for the application of additional layers of moisture barriers and aluminium tape, with final sheath applied in the group’s Liverpool (Australia) plant. The whole manufacturing process took a total of six months.

The Pacific island of Samoa has approached the government of the nearby island of American Samoa regarding a partnership for the deployment of a new submarine cable between the two territories. In a letter, Samoa’s prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has invited governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga to take advantage of the 1,470km Tui-Samoa and the 30,500km Southern Cross Cable Network systems. The two in-deployment cables would connect Samoa to Fiji, and then on to the United States and Australia to provide high speed, cheaper internet. Samoa recently signed a similar deal with Wallis and Futuna to connect the French overseas territory (departement d’outre-mer, DOM) to the submarine cables. American Samoa has developed a business case to build a cable to Hawaii, but Tuilaepa said the territory should also consider the newly proposed partnership.

The Tata TGN-Intra Asia (TGN-IA) submarine cable connecting Vietnam to the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong is expected to be back to full capacity by 25 March, VietnamPlus writes citing cable owner Tata Communications of India. The submarine system has been down multiple times this year – it was first damaged on 10 January and was fixed the same day, though the problem returned the following day and the operator estimated it would not be back up to full speed before 25 February. The most recent breakdown occurred on 4 March.

The Madras High Court has refused to grant an interim measure to block the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) from setting up the charges collectable by owners of cable landing stations (CLSs) for granting access to the facility to the domestic telecoms operators. Noting that the issue required exhaustive hearing and considering the financial implications and ramifications on consumers, the court decided not to grant the interim orders – requested by telecoms operators Tata and Airtel – and to proceed with the hearing of the main case on 17 April. Tata and Airtel argued that TRAI had fixed the access charges arbitrarily, without appreciating the economic and financial dimension involved. Currently, there are 15 CLSs in the country, facilitating access to a total of twelve international submarine fibre-optic cables. Those CLSs are operated by four companies, namely Tata, Airtel, Reliance Communications (RCOM), and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

Argentinian president Mauricio Macri and his Paraguayan counterpart Horacio Cartes have signed a bilateral agreement, under which landlocked Paraguay will gain access to submarine cables landing in Argentina, TeleSemana reports. Paraguayan ICT minister David Campos was cited as saying that under the terms of the interconnection agreement, Paraguayan operators will be allowed to directly access the submarine cable systems, with the country’s prohibitively high broadband prices expected to drop significantly once the connection is established. He added that the project will involve the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) and state-owned operator Paraguayan Communications Company (Compania Paraguaya de Comunicaciones, or Copaco), which will allow internet connection from Posadas (Argentina). TeleGeography notes that in June 2011 Copaco signed a similar deal with its Bolivian counterpart Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Entel), with work on the project beginning soon after; the border link reportedly went live in 2013. The two nations’ fibre-optics interconnect in Puerto Sucre (Bolivia) and Mayor Infante Rivarola (Paraguay).

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT Corp) has demonstrated ultra-large capacity inline optical amplified transmission of 1Pbps over a 205.6km length of 32-core (light paths) optical fibre in collaboration with Coriant and a number of universities.

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