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

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5 May 2017

Japan’s NEC Corporation has commenced the construction of three submarine cable links, which will connect the Pacific island of Palau and the Yap and Chuuk islands (part of the Federated States of Micronesia [FSM]) with the rest of the world. The branch to Palau will provide the Pacific nation with its first direct submarine fibre-optic connection. The link was commissioned by the Belau Submarine Cable Corporation (BSCC), and will be financed by a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The government of FMS, meanwhile, has secured the World Bank’s financial backing for the nation’s new connection, and signed a supply contract with NEC to construct the spur to Yap, with an additional agreement inked earlier this year for an extension from Pohnpei to Chuuk. The spurs to Palau and Yap will both interconnect with the trans-Pacific Southeast Asia-US (SEA-US) submarine cable, which is aiming to link the Philippines and Indonesia to the west coast of the United States via Guam and Hawaii; the SEA-US system is currently under construction by NEC and is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) in Q3 2017. The Pohnpei-Chuuk branch, meanwhile, will interconnect with the existing HANTRU1 Cable System, a 2,917km network connecting FSM, the Marshall Islands and Guam. All three routes will feature transmission speeds of 100Gbps per channel, NEC said.

State-owned firm Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL) and Singapore-based Blueberry Telecom are planning to establish a separate regional submarine cable company – named BSCCL-Blueberry Bangladesh – to operate a submarine link between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The proposed 250km cable, which is expected to take six months to construct, will connect Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh) with Myanmar’s coastal city of Sittwe. BSCCL will own 10% of the cable, which will have a lifespan of around 20 years. BSCCL’s managing director Monwar Hossain commented on the plans: ‘The cable will help [BSCCL] to export bandwidth to its neighbouring countries, and also to countries like Indonesia and Cambodia … We can initially export around 100Gbps of bandwidth through the link. We have been trying to enter the market in Myanmar for the last couple of years.’

Elsewhere, equipment vendor Nokia is reportedly planning to divest its submarine cable division Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), according to Reuters, which cites sources familiar with the matter. The unit, valued at roughly EUR800 million (USD870 million), was acquired by the Finnish equipment vendor last year as part of its EUR15.6 billion acquisition of French rival Alcatel-Lucent. ‘Nokia’s intention to eventually sell ASN was expressed by Nokia on various occasions in talks with the [French] state and relevant stakeholders, including the staff,’ one of the sources said, adding that ‘ASN isn’t indeed a core business, according to Nokia.’

The government of Malawi has launched its USD23 million National Fibre Backbone Project, which aims to connect the country’s 28 districts, ITWeb writes. The project seeks to integrate government operating systems and increase internet access, particularly in rural areas. The fibre-optic cables will be deployed by equipment vendor Huawei on power transmission lines owned by the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM). As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in November 2016 the Chinese government agreed to provide Malawi with a USD21.7 million loan for its fibre-optic backbone project, following the inking of a framework agreement.

Search engine giant Google has installed its Google Global Cache (GGC) servers in Cuba, the Telegraph writes. Users already connected to the internet can expect to see an improvement in terms of quality of service (QoS) and reduced times for cached latency.

Lastly, Zayo Group Holdings has completed the USD12 million acquisition of two data centres in San Diego (California, US) from KIO Networks. The San Diego facilities will provide extensive interconnection and access to Zayo’s fibre backbone in California, which now encompasses more than 8,000 route miles.

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Bangladesh, Cuba, Federated States of Micronesia, Malawi, Myanmar, Palau, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Alcatel-Lucent, Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL), Google (Alphabet), Huawei Technologies, NEC, Nokia Networks (formerly NSN), Zayo Group