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

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9 Mar 2018

PCCW Global and Mauritius Telecom have agreed to build a new submarine cable linking the islands of Rodrigues and Mauritius, dubbed the Mauritius and Rodrigues Submarine Cable System (MARS). The new 700km system will offer a bandwidth design capacity of 16Tbps and will be built in partnership with Huawei Marine Networks. The MARS cable is due to be ready for service (RFS) in 2019, with PCCW Global in charge of the cable operation. Frederick Chui, senior vice president of global data sales at PCCW Global, said: ‘This project is very exciting for us because we are using our experience gained in designing, building, and maintaining submarine cables around the world to assist another service provider, in this case Mauritius Telecom, to commission their own fully-maintained cable investment. This completely eliminates any risk in the development, maintenance and operation of what might otherwise have been a technically daunting project.’

Timor-Leste operator Telin Timor-Leste (Telkomcel), a subsidiary of Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), is deploying a submarine cable branching unit linking Timor-Leste with Indonesia, Tempo reports. The Telcomcel cable will have landing stations in Larantuka, Atambua, and Kalabahi (Indonesia) and Dili (Timor Leste). Telkomcel CEO Yogi Rizkian Bahar said that the company is expecting to be granted an authorisation from the Timor-Leste government this month.

Discussions for the rollout of a USD2.2 million cable connecting Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to Australia are progressing, The Solomon Star writes. The project is being partly funded by Australia and will see the construction of a 4,000km high-speed fibre-optic cable connecting the two Melanesian countries with Australia. The Australian company Vocus has been contracted for the new cable deal.

India’s Bharti Airtel and Gulf Bridge International (GBI) have announced a strategic agreement, under which Airtel will acquire the ownership of the Indian portion of GBI’s India-Middle East-Europe submarine cable system and pick up a significant capacity on the Middle East-Europe section of the system. GBI’s submarine cable asset will complement Airtel’s existing global cable network, including IMEWE, Europe India Gateway (EIG), SeaMeWe-4 and Middle East North Africa (MENA) Cable System. Ajay Chitkara, Director and CEO for Global Voice and Data Business, Bharti Airtel said: ‘The agreement offers great synergies to Airtel and GBI as both partners will able to build on each other’s strengths in their respective markets. This will also complement Airtel’s existing global network spanning 250,000 route kilometres with presence in 50 countries and contribute to our vision of serving customers with a future ready network that is built on cutting-edge technology.’

Internet services in the French overseas territory of French Guiana are severely disrupted, following a break in the Americas-II submarine cable, Megazap writes. Local telecoms operator Digicel said that it has implemented a ‘workaround’ solution to minimise disruptions, while the system is being repaired by the cable operator.

Submarine cable operator SEACOM has deployed 100Gbps ethernet technology at its data centre core PoPs in Teraco Johannesburg and Teraco Cape Town. By upgrading its core routers and switches at these Teraco PoPs to 100Gbps ethernet technology, SEACOM has activated up to 400Gbps of routing and switching bandwidth at each facility. The upgrade enables SEACOM to scale up the capacity it has acquired on the West Africa Cable System to provide alternate traffic paths in case of a SEACOM subsea cable system outage.

Chile’s telecoms regulator the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has relaunched two tenders for the deployment of terrestrial networks in Los Lagos and Aysen, as part of the USD100 million ‘Fibra Optica Austral’ project aiming to deploy nearly 4,000km of fibre-optic infrastructure in the southern Patagonia region. As reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium in August 2017, four companies submitted bids for the submarine section of the contract, with three operators expressing an interest in the terrestrial section of the project. In October Chilean rural telecoms services provider CTR, in association with Huawei Marine, won the tender for the submarine section – comprising the deployment of a 3,000km submarine cable from Puerto Montt to Puerto Williams with landings at Caleta Tortel and Punta Arenas – while Conectividad Austral secured the contract for one of the three land-based links from Puerto Natales to Porvenir in Magallanes. None of the bidders qualified for the Los Lagos and Aysen sections of the project.

Infinera and RETN have announced the deployment of the Infinera XT-3300 and FlexILS platforms to scale network capacity for RETN’s international wholesale and enterprise customers. RETN operates a backbone network which spans 33,000km of fibre and connects 34 countries across Europe, Asia and North America. RETN previously deployed the Infinera DTN-X, XT-500 and Cloud Xpress throughout Europe and Russia. The deployment of the Infinera XT-3300 and FLexILS connects Scandinavian countries to Russia across one of RETN’s main backbone routes. Additional deployment of Infinera’s Intelligent Transport Network solutions will be completed in 2018 to extend the capacity of the densest routes across RETN’s network in Europe.

Italian telecommunications infrastructure provider Retelit has announced a major expansion of its international network, adding 160Gbps of new capacity in Asia and Europe. The new routes support those already operative on the Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) submarine cable. Specifically, Retelit is strengthening its presence in Asia with a new direct connection between Singapore and Hong Kong, between Sicily and Greece, and diversifying the end-to-end section from Italy to the Far East with an additional direct connection between Palermo and Singapore.

Lastly, US TelePacific Corp and its subsidiaries and affiliates (TPx) have entered into a sale and lease back agreement with Uniti Group that includes approximately 650 route miles of TPx’s metro fibre assets in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Texas. The proceeds from the USD95 million sale will enable TPx to pay down existing debt and invest in new managed services. TPx will lease back these metro fibre miles for the next 15 years, with options to extend the lease up to an additional 25 years. TPx will continue to operate and maintain the network after the sale. TPx expects that the transaction will close in the third quarter of this year, following customary regulatory approvals.

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