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

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1 Feb 2019

The government of the British overseas territory of Montserrat – which is part of the Lesser Antilles chain – is inviting all qualified companies to participate in a request for proposal (RFP) for the installation and operation of the Montserrat Submarine Fibre Optic Cable, with 6 March 2019 given as a deadline for submissions. Respondents are required to provide a turnkey system with initially lit minimum transmission capacity of 10Gbps, upgradeable to at least 10Tbps, connected to a destination (or destinations) with a liberalised telecommunications regulatory framework which offers competitive and reasonably-priced options for onward connectivity. Following a period of negotiations with the chosen supplier, construction of the cable system should commence in the first half of 2019. The island has been without international fibre-optic connectivity since the mid-1990s, when the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano led to the decommissioning of the island’s only undersea cable connection, a branch of the East Caribbean Fibre System (ECFS). Denzil West, director of Montserrat’s Department of Information, Technology and eGovernment Services, said: ‘This project represents a significant step in improving Montserrat’s access and connectivity to the ultrafast international networks and positions Montserrat to attract new and different types of businesses on the island.’

Iceland’s Telecommunications Fund (Fjarskiptasjodur) and state-owned submarine cable operator Farice have signed a Desk Top Study (DTS) work agreement regarding the selection of landing sites for a new submarine cable dubbed IRIS scheduled to run from Iceland to Europe (Ireland and/or the UK), as well as project management for a seabed survey for the cable project. Under the proposed plan, the new cable will land in County Mayo in Ireland and London in the UK, crossing the Irish Sea via Dublin and north Wales. Farice is expected to start surveying the proposed route from the fishing town of Grindavik on Iceland’s southern peninsula to the Irish hamlet of Killala in 2019. TeleGeography notes that four systems currently land on Icelandic shores, namely CANTAT-3 (Iceland-Germany-Denmark), FARICE-1 (Iceland-Faeroe Islands-UK), DANICE (Iceland-Denmark) and Greenland Connect (Iceland-Greenland-Canada).

Georgian ISP Caucasus Online is reportedly planning to sell its submarine fibre-optic cable Caucasus Cable System, which links Poti (Georgia) on the eastern shore of the Black Sea with Balchik on the Bulgarian coast, reports According to the unnamed sources, the system could be sold to an Azerbaijani company. The 1,200km Caucasus Cable System entered commercial services in November 2008.

The 827km Tonga Cable between Sopu (Tonga) and Suva in Fiji, which was damaged last week, could be repaired by 2 February, according to the operations team on board the cable repair ship Reliance. Matangi Tonga Online cited Tonga Cable CEO Edwin Liava’a as saying that work is underway to splice the cable, which will take up to 18 hours: ‘The work to splice the cable on Tonga’s side started this morning [1 February] … After the splice, several tests will be conducted which will take up to ten hours. By midday tomorrow the international submarine cable should be back online if there will be no major complications.’ The Reliance located the damaged section near Tongatapu on 29 January, with the cable found lying around 100 metres south-east off-course from where it was originally laid. 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.

Nepalese ISP Vianet Communications has chosen Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform to improve intracity connectivity in Kathmandu and provide international connectivity between Nepal and other countries. Additionally, Ciena’s network management software will enable a greater level of control over Vianet’s network, providing end-to-end visibility of its services across all transport, switching and packet elements.

Bandwidth and Cloud Services (BCS) Group has signed a USD18 million long-term financing agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the expansion of its fibre-optic network in Eastern and Central Africa. According to a company press release, this includes the deployment of 4,850km of fibre-optic networks in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The project comprises of 3,850km of terrestrial fibre cables and around 1,000km of submarine cables in Lake Tanganyika (in Tanzania) and Lake Albert (Uganda and DRC).

Lastly, Hargray has announced an agreement to acquire Jacksonville-based Dark Fiber Systems. The announcement comes on the heels of Hargray’s announced acquisition of USA Communications’ Alabama assets and several other colocation facilities. Financial terms were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter 2019. Hargray operates through two primary divisions: Hargray Communications operates the company’s incumbent networks, while Hargray Fiber operates a more than 2,000 route-mile fibre-optic network in cities throughout the Southeastern US.

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Congo, Dem. Rep., Iceland, Kenya, Montserrat, Nepal, Rwanda, Tonga, Uganda, Zambia, Caucasus Online, Farice, Kacific, Tonga Cable Limited, Vianet Communications

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