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

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31 Aug 2018

Vocus has announced that it is in the process of finalising the testing phase of its USD170 million Australia-Singapore Cable (ASC), with the submarine cable system scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) on 14 September. The 4,600km ASC cable will link Perth (Australia) to Singapore via Jakarta in Indonesia, with an onward spur to the Christmas Islands; the cable will boast a minimum of four fibre pairs with a design capacity of 40Tbps. Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) began the cable construction in late March, with 1,600km deployed by the Ile de Re cable laying ship (in charge of the Singapore-Christmas Island section), while the remaining 3,000km were laid by the Ile de Batz ship (Christmas Island-Perth). Vocus CEO Kevin Russell said: ‘The Australia-Singapore Cable will provide the newest, quickest, and most direct route into Asia with the largest increase of international connectivity for Australia into the fastest growing data region in the world. The technology deployed on the ASC has been selected to easily integrate with the intelligent network management platform Vocus is currently rolling out, offering superior latency over comparable systems.’ The cable has additionally been integrated into Equinix’s International Interconnection system across the globe, the CEO said.

PEACE Cable International Network has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and landing party agreements with Pakistani network service provider Cybernet and Djibouti Telecom for the deployment of the Pakistan East Africa Cable Express (PEACE) cable. The remaining landing party agreements will be signed within the next two weeks, representing a key milestone in the cable delivery plan, which includes the permit application work in each country. The first phase of the project – spanning approximately 6,800km – will link Pakistan (Gwadar and Karachi), Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya, while the second phase will provide an extended option to South Africa and Europe, with a total length of roughly 13,000km. The project’s backers assert the PEACE submarine network will offer the shortest submarine fibre cable route from China to Africa, with links to Europe via terrestrial fibres. The project financing will be wholly provided by the China Construction Bank. Work on the cable will begin in November, with a RFS date of Q3 2019. The submarine cable system, based on 200G DWDM technology, will boast up to 60Tbps of design capacity. Sun Xiaohua, COO of PEACE Cable, said: ‘After nearly two months of consultation, the cooperation and negotiation between the PEACE Cable and landing partners has been completed. Thanks to all the partners for their support, and I hope that PEACE Cable will bring added economic value to the region in the near future.’

Hawaiki Submarine Cable and TE SubCom have signed a contract for the provision of backup Network Operations Center (B-NOC) services for the Hawaiki cable system from TE SubCom’s Eatontown headquarters. Offered as part of the SubCom Global Services (SGS) portfolio, the B-NOC will provide an extra layer of operational security for the Hawaiki Cable System, which is primarily controlled via facilities located in Australia and New Zealand. The Hawaiki Cable System is a 15,000km fibre-optic cable linking Australia, New Zealand and the US with a number of South Pacific Islands and Hawaii. The cable has a design capacity of 43.8Tbps, with Hawaiki director Malcolm Dick saying that there is room to expand the capacity in the future, as faster technology is built onto the endpoints of the network.

ATN Undersea Cable Corporation (ATN Cable), a wholly-owned subsidiary of ATN International, has filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a licence to operate a non-common carrier fibre-optic submarine cable extending between the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). The VILink System will land in Nazareth, St. Thomas and Christiansted, St. Croix and will have one non-repeatered segment composed of 24 fibre strands. The cable’s initial deployment will use 10Gbps wavelengths on a single fibre pair and may be upgraded to 40Gbps and/or 100Gbps technology in the future. ATN Cable is the only proposed owner of the VILink System and will be the landing party in both St. Thomas and St. Croix; ATN will exclusively control and operate all aspects of the VILink System.

The disaster-prone Asia-America Gateway (AAG) system, which links Vietnam to Hong Kong and the US, has experienced a fault on 30 August, the Vietnam News Agency reported citing an unnamed source. The exact location of the disruption has not been revealed, and the timeline for the repair of the cable is not yet known. This is the fourth time the AAG cable has encountered a technical problem this year, following disruptions in January, May and June, on the back of at least five incidents in 2017.

South Korea’s KT Corp has signed a deal with Chile’s Comunicacion y Telefonia Rural (CTR) to oversee its USD90 million project to deploy a 3,000km submarine cable in the Latin American country. The Fibra Optica Austral (FOA) submarine cable system will connect the Chilean cities of Puerto Montt and Puerto Williams, with landings at Caleta Tortel and Punta Arenas. The FOA cable is part of the Chilean Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications’ (Miniseterio de Transportes y Telecomunicaciones’, MTT’s) project aiming to deploy nearly 4,000km of fibre-optic infrastructure in the southern Patagonia region. In October 2017 the ministry revealed that CTR, in association with Huawei Marine, won the tender for the submarine section and one of three land-based sections of the project. Contracts for the deployment of the remaining two land-based sections in Los Lagos and Aysen were subject to an auction, though earlier this month the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) declared the tender void despite receiving four bids. The regulator said that the submitted proposals did not fully comply with the legal, administrative, technical, economic and financial requirements set forth in the rules.

Lastly, South African submarine cable operator SEACOM has addressed the mounting speculation that it was in talks to acquire South African fibre provider FibreCo Telecommunications, with a spokesman for the company saying: ‘SEACOM cannot comment at this stage. We are committed to keeping the market abreast of developments within our business and will provide information as soon as it becomes available.’ Earlier this week TechCentral reported that SEACOM was in ‘advanced discussions’ to acquire FibreCo, which owns a 4,000km open-access network. FibreCo’s infrastructure consists of underground fibre routes and carrier-grade equipment hosting facilities interconnecting over 59 PoPs in South Africa, including major data centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and East London.

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