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

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5 Jul 2019

Google has announced plans to deploy a new submarine cable between Africa and Europe. The Equiano system will initially link Lisbon (Portugal) to Cape Town in South Africa, with planned branches to Nigeria and potentially other African countries. The new system, to be laid by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), is scheduled to enter operations by 2021. The cable, equipped with space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology, is designed with nine branching points, strategically located by West African countries, but at present the only one with a projected landing is at Lagos (Nigeria) – to be added after the link to South Africa goes live in 2021. Google said in its blog that ‘Equiano will be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fibre-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching’. The system will be Google’s third private cable, following the deployment of the Curie network between Los Angeles (US) and Valparaiso in Chile (ready for service [RFS] in 2019) and Dunant linking Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez in France and the US (RFS in Q3 2020).

Elsewhere, Google Argentina has revealed that the Tannat system, a trans-Atlantic submarine cable connecting Brazil and Uruguay, will be extended from its Uruguayan landing at Maldonado to the nearby Argentinian coastal city of Las Toninas, which is located in the Buenos Aires province. The new landing point will be rolled out jointly with Uruguayan operator Antel and Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN). The branch is scheduled to be completed in August 2020. The 2,000km Tannat cable has been operational since 2018 and is designed to complement the Monet system, connecting Santos and Fortaleza in Brazil to Boca Raton (Florida, US).

Deployment work has commenced on the 4,700km Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS) aiming to link Sydney (Australia) to Port Moresby (PNG) and Honiara in the Solomon Islands, following the landing of the system at Port Moresby. Eki Roroipe, Capacity Manager at PNG DataCo Limited (the state-owned enterprise responsible for the provision of wholesale ICT transmission services in PNG), told Radio New Zealand (RNZ) that the cable will be connected to Honiara first, before being rolled out to Sydney; the executive added that he hoped the cable will be completed by March next year. 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. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in July 2018 Australia’s Vocus Group enlisted Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to build the CSCS cable. The AUD137 million (USD101 million) cable project was awarded to Vocus by the Australian government in June 2018.

Philippian broadband services provider Converge ICT Solutions is aiming to finish the construction of a submarine fibre-optic backbone network in the Visayas and Mindanao by 2021, as part of the initiative to expand its fixed broadband service across the country. Company COO Jesus Romero was quoted by the GMA News Online as saying that laying out the Vis-Min submarine cable is part of the company’s USD1.8 billion initiative to deploy a nationwide fibre network in the next five years. The executive said: ‘The Vis-Min [backbone] will not happen in the next 24 months, as it takes about 24 months to build. We’ll start that hopefully soon.’ The company is currently in the process of evaluating the ‘best and final offer’ from three unnamed foreign companies, with plans in place to award the contract to the winning bidder by the end of 2019.

Liquid Telecom is planning to start the construction of a fibre-optic backbone network in South Sudan, which will interconnect with Liquid’s regional fibre-optic network. The first phase of the agreement signed between South Sudan’s National Communication Authority and Liquid Telecom will include a 300km fibre backbone from the border of Uganda to the capital city Juba; the network is scheduled to be completed and go live in Q4 2019. The fibre-optic network will be subsequently expanded to other cities in phases. TeleGeography notes that South Sudan currently relies on slow and expensive satellite links for international bandwidth as it has no connection to international submarine fibre-optic cables. According to the ‘South Sudan Infrastructure Action Plan’ published by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2013, the Ministry of Telecommunication and Postal Services (MoTPS) has put forward a proposal for the deployment of a national backbone infrastructure stretching 5,720km; the AfDB estimated the fibre-optic network would cost around USD113 million to build.

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Argentina, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Sudan, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Antel, Google (Alphabet), Liquid Intelligent Technologies (LIT), Ministry of ICT and Postal Services, National Communication Authority (NCA), PNG DataCo, Vocus Group (incl. Commander, Dodo, iPrimus)

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