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

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28 Sep 2018

Equatorial Guinea’s Gestor de Infraestructura de Telecomunicaciones (GITGE) and Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) have landed the Ultramar GE submarine cable system linking Sao Tome, in Sao Tome and Principe, to the island of Annobon in Equatorial Guinea with the Ile de Sein cable ship. This unrepeatered system will boost connectivity and high-speed telecoms capacity in the African continent, relieving the island’s dependence on satellite technologies. Oscar Ondo Ngomo Nchama, General Director of GITGE, said: ‘Our efforts are focused on expanding connectivity and increasing the adoption of modern technologies in Equatorial Guinea. The completion of this system, an example of regional cooperation in development, will bring benefits in greater speeds and bandwidth that will contribute to the digital inclusion of the island of Annobon.’

Hawaiki Submarine Cable has selected Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme solution to upgrade the Hawaiki Cable system connecting Australia, New Zealand and the US with American Samoa and Hawaii. The 14,000km Hawaiki cable entered commercial operations in July 2018, delivering an initial 43.8Tbps capacity to the market. The upgrade will evolve the system to a cumulative 67Tbps in transmission speeds. Leveraging Ciena’s 6500 Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE) as well as the Waveserver Ai platform, both powered by WaveLogic Ai, Hawaiki can now scale from 1GbE, 10GbE, and 100GbE services over 200G and 250G wavelengths.

Australia, US and Japan are planning to table a counter-offer to the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) for the deployment of a domestic submarine cable project aiming to connect 15 coastal provincial capitals. The Register cited US charge d’affaires James Carouso as saying that the negotiations with the PNG government are ongoing, adding that the ‘whole idea is to give alternatives.’ The Kumul Domestic Cable is currently scheduled to be funded by the Export-Import Bank of China and 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 (ASN) 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.

SAEx International, which is planning to deploy a submarine cable from South Africa to the US, has signed an agreement with Telecom Italia’s Sparkle unit to expand its reach on the Seabras-1 cable to the US. TechCentral writes that the company has secured access on the Seabras-1 cable, on which Sparkle owns three of the six available fibre pairs. Sparkle bought that capacity in 2016 as part of a USD300 million investment. The Seabras-1 cable is also going to be used by another prospective cable, the SABR – to be built by Seaborn Networks between Cape Town and Fortaleza in Brazil – for onward connectivity between South America and the US. SAEx said in a press release: ‘Under the terms of the agreement, Sparkle will provide interconnection facilities in Brazil as well as technical and sales support in Brazil and North America.’ The SAEx cable has been in development since 2012, though MD Rosalind Thomas said that the business underwent a major restructuring in 2014 with new shareholders introduced. Phase 1 of the revised project, which will extend from Mtunzini (South Africa) to Virginia Beach in the US, will offer a branch to Saint Helena island and cost an estimated USD480 million. Under stage 1A, the company will deploy a cable from Mtunzini via Cape Town to a point adjacent to Fortaleza (Brazil) and leave a stubbed branching unit facing the US; under stage 1B, SAEx will roll out the branching unit to the US (Virginia Beach). Phase 2, which could cost up to a further USD300 million, will extend the system from Mtunzini to the Malaysian peninsula via a four-fibre pair system with minimum design capacity of 48Tbps. SAEx expects Phase 1 to be ready for service (RFS) in the second half of 2020. The company expects to sign a contract with the selected vendor shortly, and once financial close has been achieved, the chosen vendor will begin implementation of the project, including a marine survey.

TE Connectivity reached a deal to sell its submarine business TE SubCom for USD325 million in cash to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. TE expects the deal to close by 31 December 2018, subject to the usual closing conditions. The company expects to repurchase shares using funds from the transaction. TE Connectivity CEO Terrence Curtin said: ‘The SubCom business is a leader in the undersea telecommunications market, and distinctly different from the rest of TE’s connectivity and sensor portfolio. We are pleased that with this transaction we increase our focus as a leading industrial technology company. It strengthens our business model; resulting in a stronger growth profile, reduced cyclicality, higher margins, and a greater return on investment.’

Debt-laden Reliance Communications (RCOM), which is planning to exit the telecoms market, has received interests from two strategic investors for its residual infrastructure assets, which include B2B enterprise and data centre businesses and its international submarine cable arm, Global Cloud Xchange (GCX). The Hindu Times cited Bill Barney, CEO at RCom and GCX, as saying: ‘These are foreign companies with presence in India. It will take a little longer (for conclusion of the deals), but these companies are looking at acquiring 100% or taking a controlling stake.’ One of the interested investors is reportedly a consortium comprising four funds. RCom’s enterprise business currently owns 9,000-route kilometres of terrestrial fibre and nine data centres, while GCX owns and operates about 69,000-route km of submarine cables. GCX is also developing the EAGLE submarine cable system, which will link Italy to Hong Kong when complete in 2020. Based on 100G technology, the new cable network will comprise four/six fibre pair systems with initial design capacity of 12Tbps-24Tbps per fibre pair. The first section of the cable, spanning 7,750km, will connect Mumbai (India) with Hong Kong via Thailand, with branching units to a number of locations, including Singapore. The second section with a length of 8,900km will route from Mumbai via the Middle East to Italy, with landing points within the Mediterranean.

Infinera has revealed the successful completion of a series of submarine field trials over the MAREA submarine cable stretching 6,600km across the Atlantic Ocean from Bilbao (Spain) to Virginia (US). The trials used Infinera’s fourth-generation Infinite Capacity Engine (ICE4) advanced coherent technology to achieve new records for trans-Atlantic real-time spectral efficiency of 6.21bps/Hz over 6,644km, translating to a fibre capacity of 26.2Tbps and 4.46bps/Hz over 13,210km for 18.6Tbps fibre capacity.

HKCOLO.NET has announced that the South-East Asia Japan Cable System (SJC) submarine cable is available from the Telehouse Hong Kong CCC data centre. The 8,986km SJC System – which links Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the Philippines, and includes the option to connect with Thailand – began service in June 2013 and is owned by a consortium comprising Brunei International Gateway (BIG), China Mobile International (CMI), China Telecom, China Telecom Global (CTG), Donghwa Telecom (DHT, a subsidiary of Chunghwa Telecom), Globe Telecom, Google, KDDI Corporation, Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel), PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin, a subsidiary of Telekomunikasi Indonesia) and Thai state-owned telco TOT. TeleGeography notes that TE SubCom added additional capacity to the SJC system in May 2014 (6.5Tbps), May 2015 (3.6Tbps) and September 2016 (6.3Tbps), with the system currently boasting design capacity of more than 45Tbps.

Due to maintenance work on the West Africa Cable System (WACS) system, internet users in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will experience disruptions to their services, the Angola Press writes. The 14,530km WACS cable – which was commissioned in May 2012, with an initial design capacity of 5.12Tbps – spans the west coast of Africa, linking South Africa to the UK, with landings in Namibia, Angola, the DRC, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands and Portugal.

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