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

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17 Nov 2017

The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) have launched the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure project, aiming to provide a terrestrial bypass route for international submarine cable owners seeking diversity from the Luzon Strait, with Facebook slated as the first party to utilise the grid, The Inquirer reports. The new infrastructure – consisting of two cable landing stations connected by a 250km long cable network corridor – is expected to go live by the end of 2019. It will be operated by the DICT, which will also maintain the related facilities and provide last mile connectivity in the Philippines. For its part, Facebook will construct and operate the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) that will land at the cable stations, providing the company with direct connections from the island of Luzon to El Segundo (California, US), Deep Water Bay (Hong Kong) and Toucheng (Taiwan). In exchange for using the bypass infrastructure, Facebook will provide the government with 2Tbps of bandwidth on the PLCN network.

The new Solomon Islands government is set to review a construction contract awarded to Chinese equipment vendor Huawei in July 2017 for the rollout of the planned submarine cable linking the Solomon Islands to the rest of the world. The incumbent Minister of Communications, Peter Shanel, was cited as saying earlier this week that the Australian government had extended a cable offer to the Solomon Islands’ caretaker regime: ‘When we settle down next week after the portfolios are announced and ministers are sworn into office, I’ll probably bring a cabinet paper to review our agreement and our commitment with Huawei, and look at the Australia offer.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in July 2017 the government of the Solomon Islands and the Solomon Islands Submarine Cable (SISC) awarded the turnkey contract to Huawei, though it emerged shortly after that the Australian government was mulling an option to withhold issuing a landing permit for the system over security concerns. The 3,400km fibre-optic cable will stretch from Sydney to Honiara, comprising two optical fibre pairs with potential capacity of 2.5Tbps. The planned system – expected to be ready for service (RFS) in early 2019 – also includes a 600km domestic network linking Noro in the Western Province and Auki (Malaita Province) with Honiara and a Branching Unit for a possible use by another regional operator.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, the Australian government is in discussions with an unnamed domestic telecoms infrastructure specialist regarding the deployment of a submarine cable linking Australia and Papua New Guinea, Radio New Zealand (RNZ) writes. The project is set to be completed before the 2018 APEC summit, scheduled to be hosted by the Pacific island in November 2018. TeleGeography notes that Papua New Guinea is currently connected to the Australia-Papua New Guinea-2 (APNG-2) system, which was certified RFS back in 2006, but only has around two years of service left, and the 6,900km PIPE Pacific Cable-1 (PPC-1) linking Madang in Papua New Guinea to Sydney (Australia).

Tata Communications has expanded to Brazil by interlinking the new Seabras-1 cable system, which connects New York (US) and Sao Paulo (Brazil), with its global network. Seabras-1 lands at Tata Communications’ Wall (New Jersey) subsea cable landing station, avoiding the heavily-congested routes around Miami (Florida). Tata Communications’ Head of Americas Bob Laskey commented: ‘Our expansion to Brazil is part of our commitment of continually building our capabilities and reach to meet our customers’ increasing data demands worldwide.’ Tata Communications owns and operates a network consisting of 210,000km of terrestrial fibre and 500,000km of subsea fibre.

Burkina Faso and Benin have agreed on a fibre-optic interconnection between the two countries through the disputed area of Kourou/Koalou (located on the eastern border of Burkina Faso and north-west of Benin), as part of the World Bank-backed WARCIP programme. According to the Sidwaya Daily, a total of 180km of fibre-optic cabling will be deployed along the national road between Fada N’Gourma and Porga in Benin, via Pama and the disputed area of Kourou/Koalou.

Telkom Kenya has completed the first phase of its KES600 million (USD4.7 million) upgrade project on its national backbone and metropolitan transmission networks. The backbone improvement has created triple redundancy on the route through the use of Telkom’s own fibre, the state-owned National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) network managed by Telkom, and via Kenya Power’s overhead cables. Telkom Kenya said that it is already working on the second phase of the infrastructure improvement project which will involve increasing capacity and redundancy to other metro cities and an extension of the backbone network into key strategic markets.

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) is upgrading its transatlantic submarine network connections to four 100Gbps links. First deployed by ESnet in December 2014, the submarine system consisted of three 100Gbps links and one 40Gbps link. The upgrade will bring the total transatlantic capacity for R&E networks to 800Gbps, maintaining the close collaboration between the seven partners that deliver transatlantic connectivity under the Global Network Architecture Initiative (GNA) umbrella.

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