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

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12 Jul 2019

The government of Mauritania has signed an agreement with the EllaLink Group to join the 6,200km EllaLink submarine cable system project. Under the agreement, a dedicated branching unit will be added to Mauritania, with the new infrastructure scheduled to be operational by the end of 2020. The Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research, Information and Communication Technologies, Dr Sidi Ould Salem, said: ‘This agreement confirms our commitment to address the connectivity challenges that Mauritania faces. Internet connectivity is crucial to ensure the Mauritanians have effective and reliable communications services, and to progress the digital transformation of the region.’ EllaLink is a four-fibre pair submarine cable, which avoids the congestion of the North Atlantic by offering a direct route between landing sites in Fortaleza (Brazil) and Sines (Portugal). Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) finalised the cable route study for the EllaLink submarine cable system in May 2019. Following the completion of a marine survey work, ASN will start manufacturing activities ahead of marine operations next year. The EllaLink system is designed to offer 72Tbps of capacity using leading edge coherent technology.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing a USD25 million loan to support Cabo Verde Telecom’s (CVT’s) connection to the EllaLink trans-Atlantic submarine cable, alongside 4G mobile network expansion and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout. CVT chairman Jose Luis Livramento de Brito noted that the arrangement ‘will improve connections between our islands and the rest of the world, as well as improve communications across the country,’ adding: ‘Connection to the EllaLink cable, to be financed by the new EIB loan, is key for the future.’ Cape Verde’s connection to EllaLink will boost the resilience of international communications in the archipelago. CVT connected Cape Verde to its first international submarine cable system Atlantis-2 back in 2000, while the telco is a consortium partner in the West African Cable System (WACS) which went live in 2012, linking Europe to a string of African countries including Cape Verde. Atlantis-2 is expected to be shut down shortly after EllaLink’s launch.

Portugal’s National Communications Authority (ANACOM) has hosted the first meeting of the working group created with the aim of analysing the technical and financial aspects of a project to replace the submarine cables connecting the mainland and the autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira (CAM). ANACOM first highlighted the need for the deployment of a new submarine link in mid-2018, as the Columbus III and Atlantis-2 cables are expected to reach the end of their useful life in 2024-25. The regulator said it is ‘imperative that the Portuguese state define a strategic orientation in this matter, involving the central government and the two regional governments, with mobilisation of EU funds’. At its first meeting, the work group took note of the initiatives already launched by the various participating entities; the group’s final report containing recommendations to the government is expected to be delivered by 31 December 2019.

The Regional Council of Guadeloupe has voted to award a public service delegation (DSP) to SFR, Dauphin Telecom and SEMAG for the deployment of a fibre-optic network in Guadeloupe, under the Ultra High Speed (THD) programme. Under the agreement, a fibre network will be deployed in Baillif, Vieux-Habitants, Bouillante, Pointe-Noire, Deshaies, Port Louis, Petit-Canal, Anse Bertrand, Saint-Francois and six communes located in the southern islands of Marie-Galante and Iles des Saintes. The project will also include the rollout of a domestic submarine cable to ensure interconnection to the southern islands (Marie-Galante and Iles des Saintes), with all households in the territory set to have access to very high-speed internet in 2022. The total cost of the project is estimated at EUR87 million (USD98 million), which will be provided by the three operators, the EU and the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, which will pre-finance EUR19 million before being reimbursed by the French state.

Lastly, Czech backbone operator Dial Telecom has revealed that it has increased the capacity of its IP node, located in Frankfurt am Main, to 100Gbps. The interconnection is realised on its own optical infrastructure with DWDM transport technology. Pavel Kvicala, Deputy Technical Director of Dial Telecom, said: ‘Strengthening the connection capacity to the backbone IP node in Frankfurt was a logical response to the steady increase in traffic from/to Western Europe. We continue to upgrade our own backbone infrastructure to meet our customers’ high capacity and quality requirements.’

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Cape Verde, Czech Republic, Guadeloupe, Mauritania, Portugal, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Autoridade Nacional de Comunicacoes (ANACOM), Cabo Verde Telecom (CVT, incl. CV Multimedia), Dauphin Telecom (Guadeloupe), Quantcom (formerly Dial Telecom), SFR Caraibe (Guadeloupe)

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