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

9 Jun 2017

Chile’s Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has revealed that the development of a fibre-optic submarine cable connecting China and Chile will commence in the coming months, following the completion of a technical pre-feasibility study conducted by Chinese vendor Huawei. Undersecretary of Telecommunications Rodrigo Ramirez said: ‘We have received this study from Huawei and what is left is to analyse how we are moving towards a stage where, given the complexity of projects of this magnitude, we are in a position to see what feasibility exists.’ The initiative will see the deployment of between 20,000km and 24,000km of fibre-optic infrastructure at a cost of close to USD650 million. According to the study, the infrastructure could traverse three possible routes: Valparaiso (Chile) to Shanghai (China) via Juan Fernandez, Easter Island, Auckland (New Zealand) and Sydney (Australia); Valparaiso to Shanghai, via Juan Fernandez, Easter Island and Tahiti (French Polynesia); and Punta Arenas (Chile) to Shanghai via Auckland.

US-based hybrid IT solutions provider ViaWest, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shaw Communications, has announced that it will begin offering access to the New Cross Pacific (NCP) Cable System later this year. Directly terminating in ViaWest’s Brookwood Data Centre in Hillsboro (Oregon, US), the 13,618km NCP network – which has design capacity of 80Tbps – is owned by a consortium of seven member companies – including China Telecom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, KT, China Mobile, Microsoft and Softbank Telecom. The system will significantly reduce the latency between the US and Asia, when completed in 2018; it will use optical amplifier technology to achieve high performance and reliability in the transmission of multiple wavelength channel signals, on multiple fibre pairs, to mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Tim Parker, Vice President of Network Services at ViaWest, said: ‘The NCP cable is expected to serve as the foundation for new bandwidth-intensive services that businesses require today … As a member of the Hillsboro Data Centre Ring, ViaWest will offer metro cross-connects to the NCP cable from four other data centres on the Ring.’

TE SubCom has been awarded the South Pacific Marine Maintenance Agreement (SPMMA), a five-year service agreement between SubCom and 14 cable operators in the region. Under the terms of the agreement, SubCom will maintain more than 51,000km of cable that comprise 19 disparate telecommunications and power cable systems. The SPMMA area covers the South Pacific region from Singapore in the west to Tahiti in the east and from the southernmost point of New Zealand to Hawaii in the north.

Ooredoo Maldives has warned its customers that some may temporarily face disruptions to their internet services due to an unforeseen technical issue on one of the routes of its international submarine cable. As a redundancy measure, the operator says its international submarine cable has two routes and the team is working to re-route internet traffic to the alternative path as soon as possible.

Reliance Communications’ (RCOM’s) chairman Anil Ambani has said the company may pursue options including the sale of a stake in its undersea cable unit Global Cloud Exchange to cut its accumulated debts. Earlier this week, lenders granted the wireless provider a ‘standstill’ until the end of December 2017, during which it will not have to service debts, and its loans will not accrue interest.

Spanish communications and competition regulator, the National Commission for Markets and Competition (Comision Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia, CNMC), has opened a public consultation into its proposal to deregulate the submarine cable route between the Spanish peninsula and the Canary Islands. The CNMC said that Canalink – the only cable operator providing an alternative to the incumbent Telefonica – has become the operator with the largest share of the wholesale market. With this situation said to have led to considerable price reductions of the capacity handled over the route, the CNMC has proposed eliminating existing obligations within a period of two months after it receives market approval.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is reportedly planning to revive a dormant USD30 million regional connectivity project, reports ITWeb. Baptiste Matabazi, COMESA’s director of infrastructure, said that the authority is now reviewing its business model, in order to make it more financially viable. Matabazi said the project will use existing and new fibre backbone, mobile and fixed backhaul networks to provide a variety of NGN services. The broadband project was organised to interconnect the networks of respective member states and thereby enhance affordability of communication in the broader region. It was supposed to be operational almost ten years ago, though progress was halted after the equity partner, the Enderberg-Ericsson consortium, withdrew from the project in 2005. The project has since been unable to secure a new equity partner.

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