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

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5 Apr 2019

New Caledonia’s Office des Postes et Telecommunications de Nouvelle-Caledonie (OPT-NC) has relaunched a tender process for a new international submarine cable to Fiji and a domestic cable from Ouemo to Lifou, with applications being accepted until 31 July. With an estimated budget of XPF4.5 billion (USD42 million), the proposed one-fibre pair cable will link Nouville in New Caledonia to Fiji International Telecommunications’ (FINTEL’s) landing station in Suva (Fiji) with a proposed branch to Vanuatu, providing total capacity of 200Gbps. Its main objective will be to provide additional network capacity and resilience to the existing Gondwana-1 cable system, which connects Noumea in New Caledonia to Sydney (Australia), and extend the domestic Picot-1 system. Work is scheduled to start at the end of 2020, with a ready for service (RFS) date of 2021. TeleGeography notes that the OPT-NC proposed the deployment of a second international submarine cable and a domestic cable (between Noumea and Lifou to serve Mount Dore, Yate the Isle of Pines and Mare) in 2015, with two options on the table – either to connect to Fiji by a dedicated cable owned by the OPT-NC, or to connect to one of the in-deployment South Pacific projects. In December 2016 the government launched a competitive dialogue with Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN, offering a cable connection to Fiji) and Hawaiki Cable Company (proposing a connection to the Hawaiki system). The tender commission analysed the proposals and revealed in October 2018 that the ‘two offers are of a very high level and are extremely comparable, both in terms of investment, operation and implementation time’, adding that the competitive dialogue will be declared ‘without further action’ as the conditions for submarine cable leasing in the South Pacific had been ‘profoundly altered’ since December 2016.

Telecomunicacoes da Madeira, Unipessoal, EMACOM, and the EllaLink Group have announced that their partnership on the EllaLink system has been extended further in order to meet the growing capacity demands of Portugal’s Madeira archipelago. EMACOM currently owns a dedicated fibre pair on the EllaLink system which is designed to carry over 24Tbps of traffic. New plans under discussion propose to increase the number of direct fibre pairs between Funchal (Madeira) and Sines in mainland Portugal in order to provide EMACOM with additional capacity in excess of 70Tbps. Philippe Dumont, CEO of the EllaLink Group, commented: ‘It gives me great pleasure to offer EMACOM an increased share in the EllaLink cable system. Additional fibre pairs at a very competitive price will position Madeira as an ideal regional hub, offering direct connections to Portugal and onwards to Spain, Cabo Verde and Brazil. We look forward to working together for many years to come.’ Scheduled for operation in 2020, the EllaLink System is a four-fibre pair submarine system aiming to provide a direct submarine fibre-optic cable between Europe and Latin America. The 6,200km-long EllaLink will land at Sines in Portugal and at Praia Grande near Sao Paolo (Brazil), with branches to Fortaleza (Brazil), the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira and the island nation of Cape Verde.

The Kativik Regional Government (KRG) has launched a call for tenders for the proposed Eastern Arctic Undersea Fibre Optic Network (EAUFON). The planned 1,800km submarine cable with eight landing points at communities in Canada’s Nunavik region has an initial ready for service (RFS) date of 2020 with multiple extensions planned subsequently. The Kativik Regional Government is looking to have a turnkey solution, with applications accepted until 15 May 2019.

PCCW Global, the international operating division of HKT, has completed a major infrastructure upgrade of its backbone network in Mozambique. PCCW Global’s CCO Frederick Chui said: ‘In Mozambique, our aim is to provide users such as global enterprises, content delivery networks, Internet service providers, and content providers with affordable connectivity to and from the country with the hope of gradually increasing the number of Internet users. We are pleased to be making additional investment to help further reduce the barriers to content availability and distribution that can have a significant impact on the Internet in Africa and will help make existing international content more accessible.’

Macai Ocean Engineering has teamed up with Facebook to improve the accuracy and timescale of subsea cable laying via the introduction of new software-driven tools.

Cable One has agreed to buy fellow cable multiple systems operator (MSO) Fidelity Communications for USD525.9 million in cash, subject to customary post-closing adjustments. Cable One expects to complete the deal for privately held Fidelity during the fourth quarter of 2019. Headquartered in Sullivan, Fidelity provides residential and business services in Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Its network includes more than 5,100 network plant miles and more than 1,600 fibre route miles. The network passes around 190,000 homes, with approximately 114,000 residential primary service units (PSUs) and 20,000 business PSUs.

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