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

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6 Oct 2017

The government of Equatorial Guinea has reportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China-based operator China Unicom and Cameroonian state-owned telecoms provider CamTel to join a consortium aiming to connect Kribi (Cameroon) and Fortaleza (Brazil) via the South Atlantic Inter Link (SAIL) system, Agence Ecofin writes. Adopting Huawei Marine’s advanced 100G technology, the 5,900km system will feature four fibre pairs with a design capacity of 32Tbps. When completed in 2018, the network – which is aiming to be the ‘first direct access cable connecting Africa and South America’ – will provide reliable, high-quality telecoms infrastructure to support growth in the two developing regions. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in December 2016 French cable manufacturer Nexans disclosed that it will supply the required submarine repeatered optical cables (ROC) for the SAIL system. The cables will be manufactured and tested at Nexans’ Rognan factory in Norway, with contract delivery scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

Elsewhere, Nexans will supply 250km of fibre-optic cabling to Huawei Marine Networks for the construction of the SEA Cable Exchange-1 (SeaX-1) submarine cable, which will connect Mersing in Malaysia with Changi (Singapore) and Batam (Indonesia). Nexans will provide 24-fibre pair unrepeated (URC-1) cable and a section of terrestrial cable for the project, with work on constructing the cable currently underway at Nexans’ facility in Rognan (Norway). As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in May 2017 Huawei completed the offshore and inshore marine surveys for the full route of the system. The cable – scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) in Q1 2018 – will be wholly-owned by Singapore-based Super Sea Cable Networks, which has a licence for facilities-based operations (FBO) in Singapore; the landing in Malaysia will be supported by telecoms infrastructure provider SACOFA, while its Indonesian affiliate Super Sistem Ultima will oversee the Indonesian portion of the project. The rollout will comprise three stages, scheduled to be in development until 2021. The first phase will connect Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, while the second stage will connect Singapore to the US via Guam.

Vogel Telecom, the telecoms service provider of Patria Investimentos, has selected an integrated OTN switching and coherent optical transport solution from Coriant to scale its nationwide backbone network, which covers over 4,000km of fibre and connects the Brazilian States of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Parana, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro. The fibre-optic network – which expands Vogel’s business in Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte and adds Rio de Janeiro as a new location under Vogel’s coverage – includes metro and long-haul network infrastructure with design capacity of 5Tbps (upgradable to 10Tbps in the future). TeleGeography notes that Vogel Telecom was established in April 2015, by the merger of five regional fibre-optic operators – Avvio Telecom, Smart Brasil, SouthTech Telecom and Rede Otica Bahia – acquired by Patria Investimentos in 2014-15, with the most recent acquisition (of mining company Telbrax) finalised in 2016. The company operates more than 21,000km of fibre-optics in 13 states.

Hawaiki Submarine Cable has selected Peak 10 + ViaWest’s Brookwood data centre in Hillsboro (Oregon, US) as its US PoP. The Hawaiki Cable – with design capacity of 43Tbps – will connect Australia, New Zealand and the US with a number of South Pacific Islands and Hawaii, with a RFS date of June 2018. In related news, American Samoa’s bandwidth capacity is set to increase to 200Gbps in 2018, Radio Times New Zealand writes, following an amendment to the agreement between the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority and Hawaii Submarine Cable for the installation of a cable connecting American Samoa to the Hawaiki cable, and the provision of international capacity to the mainland.

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has inaugurated the landing station for the SeaMeWe-5 submarine cable in Browns Hill (Matara), while construction work on a submarine cable depot in Galle port is scheduled to begin soon, Daily News writes. The depot, which will be operated and managed by SLT, will provide submarine cable maintenance services – within an area spanning from Djibouti in the west to Perth in the south – from 1 January 2018. Further, construction of a tier 3 data centre in Pannipitiya will commence in November this year, according to a company official.

North Korea’s internet connection has reportedly been reinforced by Russian telecoms firm TransTeleCom (TTK), The Register writes. TTK is a subsidiary of Russian national railway operator Russian Railways and typically builds its fibre-optic networks alongside the railway lines operated by its parent company. TeleGeography notes that North Korea’s internet traffic was previously routed only via the northern border through an interconnection agreement between China Unicom and North Korean ISP Star JV (in effect since 2010). Star JV is a joint venture between Korean Post & Telecoms Corporation (KPTC) and Thailand-based Loxley Pacific. According to US-based internet monitoring firm Dyn, an additional route was understood to have been opened in April 2012 through Washington-based international satellite operator Intelsat (although since reportedly discontinued). In May 2006 TTK and North Korea’s Ministry of Post and Communications signed an agreement for the construction and joint operation of a fibre-optic transmission line along a section of the Khasan-Tumangang railway (where the ‘Friendship Bridge’ railway crossing forms the sole Russia-North Korea border link). Following the latest development, the US-Korea Institute website cites a brief statement from TTK, referring to a subsequent arrangement with KPTC, although not denying nor confirming the ‘new’ internet connectivity: ‘TransTeleCom (TTK) has historically had a connection to the communication network of North Korea under the agreement with Korea Posts and Telecommunications Corp, which was signed in 2009.’

Vietnam’s international internet connections have been restored to full capacity after repairs on the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) and TGN Intra-Asia (IA) cable systems were completed on 30 September. According to the VietNamNet Bridge, three faults were found on the AAG system – including two on the Vietnam-Hong Kong segment and one on the Hong Kong-Philippines segment – while the break on the IA system was found at a point approximately 54km from Hong Kong.

Colt Technology has deployed Ciena’s 6500 Converged Packet Optical Platform, which is capable of delivering 100Gbps and 200Gbps services. The Asia-Pacific-wide deployment on the Colt IQ Network began in September 2017 and will support Colt’s growth across key Asia Pacific markets, including Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as help strengthen intercontinental connections into Europe.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has agreed to clear CenturyLink’s pending acquisition of Level 3 Communications, subject to the divestment of certain metro network and dark fibre assets. Under the consent decree, the combined company is required to divest Level 3 network assets in three metropolitan areas: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boise, Idaho; and Tucson, Arizona. The consent decree also stipulates that the combined company must divest 24 strands of dark fibre connecting 30 specified city-pairs across the country in the form of an Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU), a customary structure for such transactions. The acquisition remains subject to regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), along with other customary closing conditions. CenturyLink expects to close the deal in mid-to-late October.

Lastly, South Africa’s Moya Networks has launched a pre-sale initial coin offering (ICO) to finance the purchase of capacity on the ACE Submarine Cable (ACE) and the West Africa Cable System (WACS). The company says it already has existing contracts with ACE and WACS and it is looking to raise approximately USD25.7 million to fund its plans. Speaking to iAfrikan, Moya Network’s CEO Carrington Phillip explained that they chose the ICO route for raising funds, as opposed to an IPO or any other traditional financing methods, because of timing: ‘An IPO takes too long and requires a lot of work. Given the timing as well we decided to go the ICO route.’ ACE is expected to reach South Africa by mid-2018.

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American Samoa, Brazil, Equatorial Guinea, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, American Samoa Telecommunications Authority (ASTCA), CamTel, China Unicom, Ciena Corporation, Colt Group (formerly Colt Telecom), Coriant, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), HMN Tech (formerly Huawei Marine), Korean Post & Telecoms Corporation (KPTC), Level 3 Communications, Lumen Technologies (incl. CenturyLink), Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, SACOFA, Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT-Mobitel), Star JV (Byol), TransTeleCom (TTK), Vogel Telecom