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

23 Nov 2018

Cable vendor SubCom, which was acquired by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management earlier this month, has reached an agreement with Diamond Link Global to construct a submarine cable system with landing points in Poti (Georgia) and Constanta in Romania, as part of a system that will directly connect Tbilisi (Georgia) and Bucharest (Romania). Desktop study for the system has already been completed and route survey operations will begin in the first quarter of 2019. The 1,208km cable will comprise six fibre pairs with a design capacity of 21.5Tbps (43×500Gbps) per fibre pair. Mamia Sanadiradze, CEO of Diamond Link Global, said: ‘This agreement reflects the strong relationship between Diamond Link and SubCom, which has existed since the construction of the Caucasus Cable System in 2008. During this ten-year period, the cable performed brilliantly and helped tremendously to develop the telecom industry in the Caucasus region.’

Elsewhere, SubCom and the Manatua Consortium have announced that the contract for the supply and installation of the Manatua submarine cable system is now in force. The Manatua Consortium consists of French Polynesian telco Office des Postes et Telecommunications (OPT), the Cook Islands’ Avaroa Cables Limited (ACL), Niue-based Telecom Niue Limited (TNL) and the Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC). The 3,166km Manatua Cable will connect Apia (Samoa) to To’ahotu (Tahiti) via a two/three fibre pair trunk, with branching units to Niue, Aitutaki (Cook Islands, one fibre pair), Rarotonga (Cook Islands, three fibre pairs) and Vaitape (French Polynesia, one fibre pair). Jean-Francois Martin, management committee chair of the Manatua Consortium, said: ‘The Manatua Cable is the first cable system owned by a consortium in the Pacific Region shared by four parties from four different countries. Manatua will enhance significantly the international communications connectivity for our communities at reasonable and affordable costs. This is a further step for our countries’ aim to continue to improve access to information and services that are migrating to digital formats.’

China Telecom has announced a plan to build a new submarine cable directly linking the Philippines with Hong Kong and the United States. The Business World writes that the telco signed a letter of intent with the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in order to use the government’s cable landing facilities to roll out its submarine cable. DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said: ‘The letter of intent is on how China Telecom can come up with its submarine cable. There’ll be cable landing facilities in the Philippines. Initially we’re thinking of using the cable landing station that we have an agreement with Facebook, so they can start [testing] the feasibility of using that, or whether they will make their own cable landing station.’

Staying with the Philippines, infrastructure firm XSite Modular has won a contract to design and build a pair of cable landing stations and four repeater stations for the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) as part of the Philippine National Broadband Plan (NBP). XSite will design and build the six facilities, then ship them to the Philippines for installation throughout the country. The 12,971km PLCN submarine cable is aiming to link El Segundo (California, US) with Deep Water Bay (Hong Kong), Toucheng (Taiwan) and Aurora and San Fernando City (both in the Philippines). The 12,871km system will have a total capacity of 144Tbps. The main trunk between the US and Hong Kong will consist of six fibre pairs, and will be owned by GU Holdings (an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Google), Edge Cable Holdings (a subsidiary of internet giant Facebook) and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC); the branch to Taiwan will be wholly-owned by Google Cable Bermuda, while the two branches to the Philippines will be owned by Edge USA’s affiliate Edge Network Services. The terrestrial segments between the Hong Kong landing station and the Hong Kong terminal station will be wholly-owned by PLDC. In addition, a fourth stubbed branch is also under consideration, and if constructed, it would be controlled by PLDC. The system, which is expected to cost roughly USD400 million, is currently scheduled for commercial launch in Q3 2019. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, PLDC selected SubCom for the construction of the PLCN system in November 2015.

The Mauritius and Rodrigues Submarine Cable System (MARS) aiming to link Mauritius with the island of Rodrigues has landed in Rodrigues. The new 700km system – due to be ready for service (RFS) in 2019 – uses 100G WDM transmission technology to offer a bandwidth design capacity of 16Tbps and is being built by Mauritius Telecom (MT) in partnership with Huawei Marine Network, while PCCW Global is in charge of the cable operation. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in March 2017 MT won the government’s public tender to supply the island of Rodrigues with additional bandwidth capacity over the next 20 years; MT – which was revealed as the sole bidder in the tender – proposed a total of USD97.9 million for the project.

Benin’s government is in discussions with Axian and Bouygues Energies & Services for the deployment of the Western Loop network project, which is Phase 2 of the Telecoms and ICT Infrastructure Development Project (Projet de Developpement des Infrastructures de Telecommunications et des TIC – ‘PDI2T’). The Western Loop project comprises, among other things, the rollout of 910km of fibre linking the capital Cotonou to the city of Djougou, and the construction of three metropolitan loops in Come, Lokossa and Aplahoue.

South African ISP Broadband Infraco has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Angola Cables to interconnect its existing fibre-optic terrestrial network, currently spanning over 14,960km across South Africa, with Angola Cable’s international submarine cable networks. Andrew Matseke, CEO of Broadband Infraco, said that the partnership is pivotal in the development of digital connectivity within South Africa and Africa: ‘We have 156 PoPs and fibre connectivity options to all neighbouring SADC [Southern African Development Community] countries. Through the Angola Cables subsea networks, SACS and Monet, Broadband Infraco will have the ability to share international traffic and content that could unlock new business opportunities for SADC countries.’

Lastly, Zayo Group Holdings has attracted takeover interest from a group of investors, including funds managed by Blackstone Group and Stonepeak Partners, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Funds managed by KKR & Co., I Squared Capital, GTCR and Charlesbank Capital Partners are also part of the group that expressed interest in Zayo. Two of the unnamed sources said that there is no guarantee a deal will be reached and the company, which operates a 130,000-mile fibre network across North America and Europe, is currently focused on its announced plan to split into two. As reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, earlier this month Zayo disclosed it will separate into two publicly traded companies – new infrastructure arm InfraCo will focus on providing core communications infrastructure, while EnterpriseCo will provide solutions for a broad set of enterprise customers.

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