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

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17 May 2019

Survey vessel Geo Resolution, which is undertaking a detailed marine survey for the Manatua Cable project since April 2019, is expected to arrive in Cook Islands in the next few days. The main vessel will assess the sea bottom at a depth of up to 5,000 metres in places, and will use smaller vessels and divers in shallower water nearer the shore. 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). Cable laying is expected to start later this year, with the system set to enter services in the first half of 2020. The system – to be deployed by SubCom – will be owned and operated by the Manatua Consortium, which 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).

Luanda-based telecommunications operator Angola Cables is considering extending its network to the East African market as its next frontier, after launching commercial services over the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS). Rui Faria, Head of Projects and Sales at Angola Cables, was cited as saying by ITWeb Africa that the Eastern Coast of Africa can benefit from the its South American route rather than the Europe route currently used by most East Coast cables, as ‘going through Europe is cumbersome for many cables as they have to change interfaces and systems.’ The executive added: ‘For SACS it connects south [Africa] to south [America] then goes north [North America] and it is straightforward.’ The SACS system, which was certified ready for service (RFS) in September 2018, connects Africa and South America, with onward connectivity provided via interconnection with the Monet Cable linking Miami (US) to Sao Paulo in Brazil.

New Zealand’s ISP and power utility Trustpower and Hawaiki Submarine Cable have announced the inking of an agreement to provide Trustpower with significant capacity on the Hawaiki submarine cable system. Launched in July 2018, the transpacific Hawaiki system connecting New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and mainland US is a 15,000km fibre-optic carrier-neutral cable with a design capacity of 67Tbps. Via the new partnership, Trustpower expands its ISP network to the US, including a new PoP in Hillsboro (Oregon) and secures its own international connectivity with future-proof capacity on the Hawaiki transpacific cable system.

TELE-POST Greenland has announced that the cable vessel expected to carry out repair works on Greenland Connect breach near Qaqortoq has arrived at the location, with the company disclosing that the repair work is currently on standby due to the site being covered with ice. The company said that customers in southern Greenland could suffer loss of service over a period of up to 20 days. Greenland had experienced two damaged submarine cables in the span of several weeks, after the Greenland Connect cable suffered a break between Nuuk and Qaqortoq on 27 December 2018 and the Greenland Connect Nord system was cut on 21 January.

Phase Four of Uganda’s National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and e-Government Infrastructure (NBI/EGI) Project has been launched in the West Nile and Karamoja regions. The programme is being developed by the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) with funding provided by the World Bank. Phase Four will extend the backbone network to Pakwach, Nebbi, Arua, Yumbe, Koboko, Adjumani, Katakwi and the border points of Oraba, Vurra and Mpondwe, providing new international connections to the neighbouring countries of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Under the first phase of the NBI project, 198km of fibre was deployed between the capital Kampala, Mukono, Jinja, Bombo and Entebbe, while the second phase saw 1,400km rolled out between Busia, Tororo, Mbale, Malaba, Kumi, Soroti, Lira, Gulu, Elegu, Masindi, Kyenjojo, Fort Portal, Kasese, Bushenyi and Mbarara. The third phase, completed in December 2016, comprised the routes Masindi-Hoima-Kyenjojo, Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Katuna (on the border with Botswana) and Masaka-Mtukula (on the border with Tanzania). In addition, NITA-U is planning to deploy a further 2,000km of proposed routes under the fifth phase of the NBI/EGI programme, described as being ‘under funding review’.

Lastly, North-eastern US fibre provider FirstLight has acquired Maine Fiber Company (MFC), with the acquisition set to further enhance its fibre footprint throughout the State of Maine. The MFC network adds unique routes into Canada including a cable landing and the Maritime Express Route from Nova Scotia to Boston. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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