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

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25 Jan 2019

RTI Connectivity (RTI-C) has awarded a turnkey contract to NEC Corporation for the supply of the SxS Cable System (SxS). The 10,500km undersea fibre-optic cable system will directly connect Guam and California and deliver an initial design capacity of more than 96Tbps. SxS will further enhance and contribute to the expansion of communications networks from Asia and the US, thereby improving network redundancy, ensuring highly reliable communications and expanding onward connectivity options in Guam. RTI-C’s CEO Russ Matulich said: ‘The addition of SxS complements our more than USD500 million of investments towards ensuring the fastest connectivity between essential neutral PoPs in Asia, Australia and the US. SxS will seamlessly interconnect with our Hong Kong-Guam (HK-G), Japan-Guam-Australia North (JGA-N), Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA-S) and SEA-US cable systems in a new purpose-built, RTI-owned facility in Guam. SxS strongly positions RTI to provide large-scale connectivity for our customers for years to come.’

A 118km submarine cable linking the islands of Desirade, Marie-Galante and Les Saintes in Guadeloupe will enter services in the last quarter of 2019, ActusMedia OutreMer writes. The project, to be deployed by Orange Marine on behalf of the regional government, will comprise the rollout of 24 pairs of passive optical fibres between five landing points in Capesterre-Belle-Eau (Basse Terre), Desirade, Marie-Galante, Les Saintes and St Francois (Grande Terre). The marine survey for the cable – which is estimated to cost EUR10 million (USD11.3 million) – will start shortly.

Telxius, the telecoms infrastructure company of Telefonica Group, has inked an indefeasible right of use (IRU) agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for a fibre pair on the MAREA submarine cable system. The MAREA cable – stretching 6,600km across the Atlantic Ocean from Bilbao (Spain) to Virginia Beach (US) – is a joint project between Telxius, Facebook and Microsoft. The cable system entered commercial operations in April 2018 with an initial system design capacity of 160Tbps, which has subsequently been upgraded to 200Tbps, Telxius said.

Beijing-based China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) has expressed its intention to invest in a submarine cable connecting the Kingdom of Cambodia with Hong Kong, The Khmer Times writes. Xu Siwei, a member of the board of directors at CRBC, was cited as saying: ‘The company plans to invest in a submarine cable connecting Phnom Penh and Hong Kong that will enhance the speed and quality of internet service in Cambodia.’ TeleGeography notes that Cambodia’s first submarine link, the 1,300km Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) Cable, was officially launched in March 2017, while a second system – the Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) – was lit in June 2017. Another system, the Southeast Asia-Japan Cable 2 (SJC2), is expected to be ready for service in Q4 2020.

XSite Modular has announced that it was awarded a contract by PNG DataCo Limited (DataCo) to design and build a modular cable landing station (MCLS) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The landing station, scheduled to be completed in Q3 2019, will house the Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS), a 4,700km subsea network connecting Sydney (Australia) to Port Moresby (PNG) and Honiara in the Solomon Islands. The four fibre-pair international system will deliver a minimum of 20Tbps capacity to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands respectively, bringing a total capacity of 40Tbps. The CSCS project also includes a 730km submarine cable system, known as the Solomon Islands Domestic Network, connecting Honiara to Auki (Malaita Island), Noro (New Georgia Island) and Taro Island. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in July 2018 Australia’s Vocus Group enlisted Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to build the 4,000km CSCS cable. The AUD137 million (USD101 million) cable project – awarded to Vocus by the Australian government in June – is expected to be completed by late-2019.

TELE-POST Greenland has disclosed that its internet services are suffering a slowdown north of Maniitsoq following a cable fault at its Greenland Connect Nord submarine system; the damage was located south of Sismiut. To reduce the impact of the fault, reported on 21 January, TELE has taken measures such as suspending the 4G network. Further, the operator disclosed that repairs to the Greenland Connect cable break between Nuuk and Qaqortoq that occurred on 27 December will take longer than the three to five weeks originally expected, for lack of any cable ships. Jonas Hasselriis, director of IT and technology, said Greenland is in the unfortunate position of suffering two damaged submarine cables. The company has been in touch with its suppliers and has located a vessel that it expects will be able to mend both lines.

The 827km Tonga Cable between Sopu (Tonga) and Suva in Fiji has suffered a fault, with no timeframe provided for restoration of its service. The sole international service in the island nation is currently provided via a Ku-band satellite network, operated by Kacific Broadband Satellite, and supplied in-country by ISP EziNET.

Hawaiki Submarine Cable and PacketFabric have signed a strategic partnership to provide secure, low-latency transpacific capacity on the Hawaiki submarine cable system and extend the reach of PacketFabric’s Software-defined Networking (SDN) platform into APAC. Launched in July 2018, the 15,000km Hawaiki transpacific cable – which boasts a design capacity of 67Tbps – connects Australia and New Zealand to Hawaii and mainland US. With this partnership, Hawaiki expands its reach to more than 150 locations on PacketFabric’s network, with instant connectivity to its ecosystem and all global endpoints.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has announced the commercial availability of aluminium conductor cable for optical fibre submarine systems. The company paired with Facebook on the new conductor cable technology, including the successful completion of a testing and qualification programme. This new cable variant has already been selected for a major long-distance project and is part of the SDM1 by ASN solution. Philippe Piron, President and CEO of ASN, said: ‘The introduction of a new cable variant using aluminium conductor addresses the market demand for more cable capacity at a reasonable cost, while keeping the same level of quality and reliability.’

Lastly, the government of Botswana has announced plans to expand the national fibre-optic backbone network from the town of Kang to the settlements of Hukuntsi, Tshane, Lokgwabe, and Lehututu in the Kgalagadi South District in 2019. The country’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi said that the rollout of the network providing connectivity between cities, towns and major villages and linking them to the international connectivity is ongoing: ‘The intention is to roll out national broadband backbone fibre network to 206 identified villages as per the National Broadband Strategy … Currently, 203 sites are connected to the national fibre backbone since 2014/15. The rollout of fibre is progressing successfully, extending broadband infrastructure to the Kgalagadi, Okavango and Chobe Districts as well as the Bobirwa Sub-District. In addition to rolling out the fibre backbone infrastructure, 19 villages have been connected to the broadband fibre network through high-capacity microwave radios. For the 2018/19 financial year, this network will be extended to connect 14 additional villages, four in the Kgalagadi District and ten in the Kweneng District’. In terms of international connectivity, the president said that Botswana was utilising 53% of its allocated capacity on the West Africa Cable System (WACS) and East African Submarine System (EASSy).

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