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

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17 Aug 2018

The Export-Import Bank of China is financing the construction of a domestic submarine cable project aiming to connect 15 coastal provincial capitals of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The National cited Investment Minister William Duma as saying that the Kumul Domestic Cable project will be rolled out by Chinese company Huawei in preparation for the Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS). The network will run between Port Moresby, Alotau, Popondetta, Lae and Madang and is expected to be completed by February 2019. PNG DataCo Limited, the state-owned enterprise responsible for the provision of wholesale ICT transmission services under the newly-restructured business of Kumul Telikom Holdings Limited (KTHL), will own, manage and operate the cable system after its commissioning. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in July 2018 Australia’s Vocus Group enlisted Nokia’s Alcatel Submarine Networks unit to build the 4,000km CSCS cable, which will link Australia to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. The AUD137 million (USD101 million) cable project – awarded to Vocus by the Australian government in June – is expected to be completed by late-2019. Vocus is also set to deploy a domestic submarine cable network in the Solomon Islands to link Auki in Malaita Province, Noro (Western Province) and Taro (Choiseul Province) with the Honiara landing point, which will be jointly funded by Australia and the Solomon Islands.

I Squared Capital and a consortium comprising TPG, Blackstone and Varde have submitted bids for the Reliance Communications’ (RCOM’s) assets, which include its international submarine cable network, data centres and fixed line infrastructure, The Financial Times reports. Both bids reportedly valued the assets at around USD1.1 billion. I Squared Capital purchased Hong Kong fixed line business HGC last year from CK Hutchison Holdings and intends to use the former Hutch assets along with RCOM’s systems to create a new India and China-focused data centre company, one source was quoted as saying. The TPG/Blackstone/Varde consortium, meanwhile, is primarily interested in RCOM’s subsea networks – currently operating under the Global Cloud Xchange brand.

Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) has been given a deadline until 31 December 2018 by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) to establish a new wholesale division in charge of its infrastructure assets – including copper and fibre-optic networks, active equipment and exchange buildings and cabinets, international landing stations at Salmaniya and Hidd, and international submarine and terrestrial cables. Batelco is one of the four operators that own and operate the Fiber Optic Gulf (FOG) system linking Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain, and acts as a landing party for the FALCON cable (at its landing station at Salmaniya) and the GBI cable branch (in Hidd). Batelco also manages a terrestrial fibre-optic cable system, dubbed Batelco Gulf Network (BGN), spanning 1,400km and running over the GCCIA electricity power grid, and the Saudi Fibre Optic (SFO) system, which runs across the King Fahd Causeway between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Zayo Group Holdings has completed its long-haul dark fibre route between Los Angeles and Dallas. Zayo secured an anchor tenant and began development of the 2,000-mile route in 2015, which included upgrades and new construction. The new wavelengths route will be diverse from other existing carrier networks and from Zayo’s existing routes, and will enable unique options between Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Fort Worth and Dallas.

Elsewhere, Zayo Group Holdings has closed the sale of Minnesota-based incumbent local exchange carrier Scott-Rice Telephone to Nuvera (formerly New Ulm Telecom) for USD42 million. Zayo acquired Scott-Rice Telephone as part of its March 2017 purchase of Electric Lightwave. Since the acquisition, the company has been managed separately but within Zayo’s Allstream business segment. Scott-Rice Telephone serves residential and business customers in areas of Scott and Rice counties southwest of Minneapolis. Zayo’s CFO Matt Steinfort said: ‘The completion of this sale is an important step toward the separation of the Allstream assets. It better positions us to focus and execute on our core communications infrastructure business.’

Lastly, ICT provider Vox said it will shut its Waverley (Johannesburg) data centre in favour of an outsourced arrangement with Teraco. Vox said it will use Teraco’s new Riverfields data centre in Bredell (Johannesburg), with the Waverley facility scheduled to close by November. Keith Laaks, executive head of core networks at Vox, said: ‘Migration of co-location customers from our Waverley data centre to Riverfields is progressing well. We are shutting down the Vox-operated Waverley data centre in November, having opted to outsource a non-core activity, such as data centre facilities management, to a competent provider.’

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