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

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3 Nov 2017

A consortium of telecom carriers and content providers –*PCCW Global*, Facebook, Amazon, NTT Communications, PLDT and SoftBank – have announced plans to construct the JUPITER submarine cable system aiming to connect Maruyama and Shima in Japan with Los Angeles in the US and Daet in the Philippines. The 14,000km JUPITER network will deliver capacity of more than 60Tbps utilising ROADM which employs wavelength selective switch (WSS) technology, providing a greater diversity of connections and enhanced reliability for customers as well as optimised connectivity to data centres on the West Coast of the USA. The system will be supplied by TE SubCom and is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) in early 2020.

The island government of St Helena has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SAEx International Ltd, which will construct and operate the South Atlantic Express cable (SAEx) linking South Africa to the US and Brazil. The route of the submarine fibre-optic cable – which will span the South Atlantic Ocean over a distance of more than 13,000km – passes close to St Helena, allowing a subsea branching unit with an initial capacity of 200Gbps to be deployed to the island. Rosalind Thomas, CEO of SAEx Ltd, said: ‘The lion’s share of funding for the St Helena branch worth a low two-digit million amount of pounds will be provided by the EU which under the Eleventh European Development Fund has granted an indicative amount of EUR21.5 million [USD25 million] for the period 2014-2020 to St Helena.’ Construction works for the SAEx cable is expected to be completed in early 2020, shortly after which the cable will be classified as RFS. Currently, the entire island population shares a satellite link of 20Mbps.

TE SubCom’s Responder ship, which is currently berthed in Sydney (Australia), will soon begin laying 6,500km of cable it has onboard for the Hawaiki network, with the system scheduled to land shortly at Equinix’s SY4 facility in Alexandria (Australia). The 15,000km trans-Pacific cable will link Australia and New Zealand to the continental US, as well as Hawaii and American Samoa, with options to expand to additional South Pacific islands. Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP CEO Remi Galasso said: ‘The system includes some branching units – American Samoa is already in, and we expect a few more coming in the next few months … We have included in the system a branching unit for Fiji, another one for Tonga, and another one for the French territory of New Caledonia.’ The cable, which is scheduled to be RFS in June 2018, will comprise three fibre pairs – two between Sydney and the US, and one from New Zealand to the US. TeleGeography notes that another ship began laying the cable from Oregon on 10 October.

The Samoa Submarine Cable Company Limited (SSCC) and Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) have revealed that construction work on the 1,693km Tui-Samoa cable system has commenced in the Samoan capital Apia and is scheduled to land shortly in Savai’i, The Samoa Observer writes. The 8Tbps Tui-Samoa network will connect Samoa to Wallis and Futuna, Vanua Levu (the second largest island of Fiji) and on to Suva on the Fiji mainland by December 2017.

TransTeleCom (ТТК) and China Telecom have successfully completed a joint project to construct a terrestrial 100G route connecting Manchuria in China and Zabaikalsk (Russia), with a new gateway interface built on the border between the countries. TeleGeography notes that earlier this year TransTeleCom completed the changeover of its international backbone traffic to Long Haul DWDM technology. The 20,000km LH DWDM network offers as many as 80 100G optical data transmission channels.

Infinera has announced that Sweden-based regional operator Norrsken has deployed the Infinera XTM II and 400G Flexponder, delivering 100Gbps services to ISPs and carriers. With the XTM II platform and 400G Flexponder, network operators can activate multiple 200Gbps wavelengths on a fibre, providing up to an eightfold density increase and a reduction in power per gigabit of three and a half times over the previous generation of 100Gbps technology.

US network service provider CenturyLink has completed its previously announced USD34 billion acquisition of Level 3 Communications. CenturyLink shareholders now own approximately 51% of the combined company, with former Level 3 stockholders now owning approximately 49%. CenturyLink remains headquartered in Monroe, Louisiana, with a key operational presence in Colorado and the Denver metropolitan area. CenturyLink’s network now connects more than 350 metropolitan areas with more than 100,000 fibre-enabled, on-net buildings, including 10,000 buildings in EMEA and Latin America.

Lastly, beleaguered cellco Reliance Communication (RCOM) has presented a new ‘zero write-off’ plan to its lenders, under which the creditors would convert around INR70 billion (USD1.1 billion) of the company’s INR450 billion debt into equity, taking a majority 51% stake in the operator. If accepted, the deal would see RCOM’s promoters reduce their stake in the firm from around 65% to roughly 25%, with the join lenders forums (JLF) then left to decide on the future management structure of the company. The telco would continue to operate a ‘non-mobile B2B business’ covering its internet data centres, global submarine cable network and its global and Indian enterprise services.

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