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

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23 Mar 2018

The Tasmanian government has threatened to take legal action against the operators of the Basslink submarine cable linking mainland Australia to the island state of Tasmania, with Energy Minister Guy Barnett saying that the government believes it is entitled to damages over the December 2015 outage. The official was cited by ZDNet as saying: ‘The state proposes to initiate the dispute next week unless Basslink agrees to compensate it for its losses.’ For its part, cable operator Basslink (BPL) strongly denied the allegations set out in the state’s letter, saying that it will ‘vigorously defend any legal action.’ In January 2018 BPL refuted claims that the fault was caused by BPL exceeding its design limit, which then degraded the cable. Basslink CEO Malcolm Eccles said the report – provided by two experts from international engineering consultancy DNV GL – did not provide any ‘conclusive and definitive proof’: ‘Hydro Tasmania’s experts did no actual testing on the Basslink cable or any similar HVDC [high-voltage direct current] cables. They used a theoretical model based on certain assumptions to come to a set of conclusions … These assumptions make the experts’ conclusions speculative and not based on actual facts.’ Eccles also said that neither Basslink, nor cable manufacturers Siemens and Prysmian were consulted during the creation of the Hydro Tasmania report. TeleGeography notes that the cable was damaged on 20 December 2015, and Basslink said in April 2016 that the fault was located around 98km from the Tasmanian coast, though due to the ‘lack of visible damage’ the cable needed to be cut in order to be fixed. The submarine link went back into operation in June 2017.

Africa’s carrier of carriers West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) has engaged facilities-based telecom consulting and service company APTelecom as its International Sales partner for new client markets in Asia and the United States. WIOCC has a network which interconnects over 500 locations across more than 30 African countries by linking a 55,000km pan-African terrestrial fibre-optic network with more than 40,000km of submarine cable assets, including EASSy, EIG and WACS. WIOCC’s CEO Chris Wood said: ‘Africa is in the spotlight in the context of global growth as a key region of opportunity for the telecoms industry. APTelecom will assist us in promoting our capabilities in the key markets of Asia and the United States.’

Financial infrastructure services provider Pico has selected Zayo Group Holdings for a low-latency global backbone network, which includes two diverse rings connecting major financial markets in the US, Europe and Asia with fully diverse subsea, terrestrial systems and cable landing stations. The primary ring provides Pico with a low-latency solution, while the secondary ring provides 100% physical diversity. The solution leverages Zayo’s owned network in North America and Europe along with its Global Reach relationships with international network providers. In addition to the global rings for the backbone, Zayo is facilitating diverse connectivity to South Africa for Pico, which will link the region back to the main European financial hubs.

Elsewhere, Zayo Group Holdings has been selected by an unnamed ‘global webscale customer’ for dark fibre services on its Reno (Nevada, US) to Umatilla (Oregon, US) route, which is currently under development. The deal further supports Zayo’s investment in the high-fibre count route spanning more than 600 route miles. The path will also be available for 100G wavelengths in addition to dark fibre, once completed.

US-based OFS has expanded its ocean product portfolio with the introduction of TeraWave SCUBA 125 Optical Fiber, optimally designed to deliver excellent performance for coherent transport submarine systems. The effective area is matched to terrestrial G.654.E fibres for improved performance from the ocean landing site to terrestrial networks. Robert Lingle Jr., Director of Systems & Technology Strategy at OFS, commented: ‘The low noise and low non-linearity provided by TeraWave SCUBA 125 fibre could be used to engineer a trans-Atlantic link with 8QAM modulation, or alternatively a lower cost QPSK modulation system with fewer repeaters … Then you could extend the SCUBA 125 fibre in standard terrestrial cable all the way into the inland data centre.’

Optical transport equipment developer PacketLight Networks has upgraded its PL-2000DC transponder to offer 2.4Tbps in a 1RU device using dual drawers of 1.2Tbps each. The platform supports 600G per wavelength for data centre interconnect (DCI) and related applications. Providing carriers and enterprises 400G and 200G over a single wavelength for metro and long-haul networks, the PL-2000DC reduces cost and footprint for transporting up to 24×100G LAN and OTU4. According to PacketLight, it features innovative modularity that supports 600G transmission in 1.2Tbps pluggable drawers for pay-as-you-grow architectures. The upgraded PL-2000DC will be commercially available in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Lastly, India’s Reliance Communications (RCOM) is reportedly in talks to sell its enterprise telecoms assets, including its international submarine cable network, a fixed line telecoms network and data centres in India. Two sources familiar with the matter told the Financial Times that five companies had expressed interest in buying RCOM’s remaining telecoms assets in a sale that could raise about USD1.2 billion. Potential bidders include New York-based private equity firm I Squared Capital, Hong Kong telecoms firm PCCW, and Russian conglomerate Sistema.

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Basslink Telecoms, PCCW Group, Prysmian Group, Reliance Communications (RCOM), Siemens AG, Sistema, West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC), Zayo Group

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