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

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29 Mar 2019

Djibouti Telecom, Somtel and SubCom have announced the completion of a marine survey for the Djibouti Africa Regional Express 1 (DARE1) submarine cable system and the addition of a landing station in Bosaso (Somalia). The DARE1 cable system will stretch 4,747km and connect Djibouti (Djibouti), Bosaso (Somalia), Mogadishu (Somalia) and Mombasa (Kenya), delivering 36Tbps of capacity. DARE is configured as a three-fibre pair trunk and each trunk fibre pair has cross sectional capacity of 40 channels at 300Gbps; the newly added two-fibre pair repeatered Bosaso segment of the DARE1 cable will be 108km and will be equipped with a switched Wavelength Management Unit (WMU). Manufacturing of the undersea cables and repeaters will begin in April 2019 and the system will be ready for commercial traffic in Q4 2019.

Bulk Infrastructure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have entered into an agreement to allow the cloud giant access to Bulk’s data centres in Southern Norway and the US, Ireland and Norway termination points of the Havfrue cable system. The submarine cable – to be owned and operated by a consortium comprising Aqua Communications (AquaComms), Facebook, Bulk Infrastructure and Google – will traverse the North Atlantic to connect mainland Northern Europe to the US. The system is comprised of a trunk cable connecting New Jersey (US) to Blaabjerg in the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark with branches landing in County Mayo (Ireland) and Kristiansand (Norway). The 7,200km cable system will be optimised for coherent transmission and will offer a cross-sectional cable capacity of 108Tbps, scalable to higher capacities utilising future generation Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE) technology. AquaComms will serve as the system operator and landing party in the US, Ireland and Denmark, while Bulk Infrastructure of Norway will be the owner and landing party for the Norwegian branch options. The cable is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) in Q4 2019.

US tech giant Google has signed a deal with Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), the incumbent telecommunications provider in Cuba, to explore ways of boosting internet services on the island via a direct internet connection, Reuters writes. Google’s chief in Cuba, Brett Perlmutter, was quoted as saying: ‘We are creating a working group which is comprised of engineers from Google and ETECSA who would work together to analyse ways to implement the direct internet connection.’

Liquid Telecom Kenya, part of pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, and Nokia have entered into a two-year partnership to upgrade Liquid’s fibre network to support OTN/DWDM technology with an initial network capacity of 500G. The network will support high-capacity connections from the submarine landing stations in Mombasa (Kenya) to major data centres in Nairobi, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, as well as surrounding markets. The deployment began in October 2018 and will initially be available on the following routes: Nairobi-Mombasa (high-capacity interconnections from Nairobi data centres to the submarine landing stations at Mombasa); Nairobi-Kampala (opens a new high-capacity route to Uganda, Rwanda and beyond); Nairobi-Namanga (new high-capacity route to Tanzania); and Nairobi-Ethiopia (new high-capacity route to Ethiopia, giving the landlocked country an alternate route to the submarine connection in Djibouti).

Also in Kenya, Telkom Kenya has begun setting up a metro fibre loop in the city of Mombasa, linking it to its 10,000km national backbone and the 1,000km redundancy backbone between Mombasa and Tororo. Telkom CEO Mugo Kibati said that the firm intends to set up similar fibre loops in all large towns within the country. Telkom’s entire backbone is 400G-enabled, while its Nairobi carrier metro loop has a design capacity of 10TB. The set-up of metro loops is part of Telkom’s KES1 billion (USD9.8 million) plan to expand and optimise Telkom’s network across the country. The metro loop will also support the DARE1 system, set to land in Mombasa in Q4 2019.

Elsewhere in Africa, the Chadian government has awarded a contract for the technical, commercial and financial management of a fibre link between N’Djamena and Adre to Chadian-Sudanese joint venture SUDATCHAD, Journal du Tchad reports. In a statement, the government explained that the move was in line with the telecom ministry’s programme for the development of fibre-optic infrastructure ‘to link Chad to international networks and to interconnect the main cities of the country, provinces and departments in order to make broadband internet accessible throughout the national territory.’ The system spans just under 800km and connects the capital with Adre on the Sudanese border. Work started on the network back in 2014, but the government has ramped up its efforts to make the link operational over the last two years, with the incoming telecom minister in January 2019 declaring that the commissioning of the ‘N’Djamena-Adre optical fibre segment’ was one of his key policy objectives.

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