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

21 Apr 2017

Chile’s Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has signed a technical pre-feasibility agreement with Chinese vendor Huawei for the development of a fibre-optic submarine cable connecting China and Chile. Under the agreement, the two groups will analyse the possible routes and likely cost of a trans-Pacific Sino-Chile Cable. Building on the deal, Undersecretary of Telecommunications Rodrigo Ramirez is set to visit China this week to meet other parties interested in participating in the project.

NEC Corporation and RTI Connectivity have announced that construction of the Hong Kong-Guam Cable (HK-G) system has officially commenced. The 3,900km undersea cable, which will feature 100Gbps optical transmission capabilities, will deliver design capacity of more than 48Tbps, and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019. In Hong Kong, the cable is slated to land in Tseung Kwan O (TKO), and will land in Piti, Guam at the recently completed GTA cable landing station. HK-G will land in the same facility as the Southeast Asia-United States (SEA-US) cable system. According to NEC, the HK-G will be built utilising capital from the Japan ICT Fund, along with syndicated loans from Japanese institutions including NEC Capital Solutions, among others.

The 21st Pacific Telecommunications Association (PITA) annual general meeting in Rarotonga (Cook Islands) earlier this month saw the signing of an agreement for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the planned Polynesian Manatua submarine cable. The final signing process for the cable agreement involved the French government – on behalf of French Polynesia – and the governments of Niue, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Samoa’s Minister of Communications & ICT, Afamasaga Lepuia’i Rico Tupai, commented: ‘The Manatua cable project is a historic and tangible example of Polynesian cooperation’.

In a further Pacific development of note, the Samoa Observer has reported that the aforementioned minister staged negotiations with representatives from Tokelau and Tuvalu at the PITA meeting over the possibility of the three nations being connected by a new submarine cable. He told the newspaper: ‘It is expected that a standalone Tokelau-Tuvalu Submarine Cable will connect to Samoa, whereby international connectivity will be provided via the Tui-Samoa cable system linking Samoa to Suva (Fiji) then onwards to the US or New Zealand/Australia.’

Angola Cables has announced the completion of the marine survey for the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS), as well as the start of cable loading on the Angolan side of SACS. Angola Cables commissioned NEC Japan and contracted Ocean Specialists Inc (OSI) to oversee the construction process. SACS is a 40Tbps cable – 6,165km in length – with four fibre pairs that will connect Angola to Brazil, linking Africa and the Americas; the cable is expected to be ready for service (RFS) by mid-2018.

SEACOM has confirmed that it has been able to activate additional diverse capacity to its network, and as a result is ‘starting to provide linear transmission customers with restoration capacity on a first come first served basis’. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, the SEACOM Subsea Cable System experienced a service-affecting fault slightly west of Djibouti in the Red Sea on 8 April. SEACOM notes that the repair vessel is currently in port loading spares and acquiring the necessary permits to implement repair work. A more formal repair date will be confirmed once permits have been received. The expected down time is three to six weeks.

Global telecoms provider Level 3 Communications has confirmed that it expanded its Latin American IP and metro network to 26,000km in 2016. The main expansions took place in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Peru, while the company also upgraded its existing nodes and data centres throughout the region. In Argentina, Level 3 completed various expansions of its metropolitan network in Buenos Aires and long-haul network with an extension of its San Luis to Cordoba route. In Brazil meanwhile, Level 3 carried out expansion work on its global IP and metropolitan network in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and also expanded its long-distance networks between Cotia-Curitiba, Cotia-Belo Horizonte, Cotia-Campinas, Campinas-Hortolandia and Belo Horizonte-Rio de Janeiro. In Colombia, a network expansion was completed on the Bogota metropolitan network and its long-haul network in the Cali-Bogota-Medellin-Cali ring, while in Mexico Level 3’s long distance network was expanded in the cities of Monterrey, Mexico City and Guadalajara, in addition to the international long-haul network linking Monterrey to McAllen, Texas (US).

Elsewhere in the region, Argentina’s in-deployment Federal Fibre-Optic Network (Red Federal de Fibra Optica, REFEFO) is now 60% complete, with a total of 22,500km of fibre now said to be lit. The backbone network currently serves 207 localities, a figure which should rise to 450 by July this year. The progress was revealed to La Nacion by Rodrigo de Loredo, president of state-owned telecoms infrastructure firm ARSAT.

Also in Latin America, Colombian fibre-optic provider Media Commerce has enlisted ECI, a global provider of ELASTIC Network solutions, to deploy packet-optical metro and aggregation networks on a nationwide basis. The infrastructure is comprised of a combination of ECI’s Apollo (OPT) and Neptune (NPT) family of products. Media Commerce was founded a little more than a decade ago in Colombia. Since its inception it has grown consistently by acquiring local operations and building networks for operators.

Finally, Crown Castle has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Wilcon Holdings for approximately USD600 million (subject to certain limited adjustments) from Pamlico Capital and other ‘unit holders’. Wilcon owns approximately 1,900 route miles of fibre, primarily in Los Angeles and San Diego. Pro forma for the proposed acquisition, Crown Castle will own or have rights to over 28,000 route miles of fibre. Crown Castle expects the acquisition to close in the third quarter of 2017.

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Angola, Argentina, Chile, China, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Hong Kong, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Angola Cables, ARSAT, Crown Castle International, Department of Telecommunications (Subtel), ECI Telecom, GTA, Huawei Technologies, Level 3 Communications, Media Commerce, NEC, RAM Telecom International (RTI), SEACOM, Wilcon