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

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2 Aug 2019

Sunshine Coast-based firm Auscom has been awarded an AUD1 million (USD684,000) contract to provide a key part of the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Submarine Cable (SCIBSC) project. Under the deal, by October 2019 Auscom will deliver the land side fibre network which will connect the beach landing to the cable landing station at Maud Street (Maroochydore), situated around 100km north of Brisbane. The AUD35 million SCIBSC, which will connect to the Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA-S) submarine cable, has a length of 552km and comprises two fibre pairs with a design capacity of 18Tbps per fibre pair; the branch is expected to be operational in mid-2020. The Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Council has set aside AUD35 million to deploy the cable, AUD15 million of which will be provided through the Queensland government’s AUD150 million Regional Growth Fund. The JGA-S system, meanwhile, is a private, non-common carrier fibre-optic submarine cable connecting Guam and Australia. It will consist of a main trunk between Piti (Guam) and Sydney (Australia), which will have a total length of approximately 7,081km and will consist of two fibre pairs with a design capacity of a minimum of 18Tbps per fibre pair, and the branch to the Sunshine Coast. JGA-S will be separately owned and operated from the planned Japan-Guam-Australia-North (JGA-N) system between Guam and Japan, with RTI JGA holding 62.5% participation and voting interest in JGA-S and AARNet (12.5%), while Google will control 25% via three affiliate companies: GU Holdings (portion in US territory), Google Infrastructure Bermuda Limited (GIB, portion in international waters) and Google Australia (portion in Australian territory). JGA will wholly own the branching unit connecting the Sunshine Coast Branch to the main trunk.

MTA Fiber Holdings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MTA, has revealed plans to deploy Ciena’s 5170 Service Aggregation Switch and its 6500 Packet-Optical platform in the Alaska Canada Overland Network (AlCan ONE), an all-terrestrial fibre-optic network connecting Alaska to the contiguous US and beyond. AlCan ONE will initially have capacity of over 100Tbps, which can be expanded and increased in the future as demand grows. Construction of the new long-haul fibre network has commenced, with plans to be completed by the middle of 2020.

Global Cloud Xchange (GCX), the submarine cable subsidiary of debt-laden RCom, has highlighted that it is continuing discussions with its largest bondholders to seek a forbearance agreement enabling time to discuss options related to the upcoming maturity of the USD350 million senior secured notes issued by the company. The development comes after a prospective private loan provider said it would not be proceeding with the loan on a timetable that would have allowed the company to repay the bonds at par at maturity. RCom is also facing insolvency proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

Telefonica’s infrastructure subsidiary Telxius has reported that its revenues for the three months ended 30 June 2019 were up 14.2% year-on-year on an organic basis to EUR216 million (USD239 million), attributing the positive development to the sale of capacity on its new MAREA submarine cable system. The MAREA submarine cable – stretching 6,605km across the Atlantic Ocean from Bilbao (Spain) to Virginia (US) – is a joint project between Telxius, Facebook and Microsoft. Telxius joined the two original partners Microsoft and Facebook in May 2016, to manage the construction process and operate the cable, with deployment work on the system commencing in August. The system, which entered commercial operations in February 2018, features eight fibre-pairs and an initial design capacity of 160Tbps (increased to 200Tbps). CAPEX in the period under review fell 7.5% y-o-y to EUR94 million, though the company highlighted that excluding the impact of the acquisition of towers in Peru (EUR70 million), ‘CAPEX would have maintained the decreasing trend started in the second half of 2018 after deployment of the MAREA and BRUSA submarine cables was completed.’ The 11,200km BRUSA cable system connects Virginia Beach, Virginia (US); San Juan (Puerto Rico); and Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro (both Brazil).

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