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

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16 Aug 2019

Pacific Carriage Limited Inc (PCLI) and Southern Cross Cables Limited (SCCL) have filed an application with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a licence to land and operate a private fibre-optic submarine cable network connecting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tokelau, Kiribati and California (US). The applicants will operate the Southern Cross NEXT cable system on a non-common-carrier basis by providing bulk capacity to wholesale, enterprise and internet content customers, with commercial operation of the system expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2021. The Southern Cross NEXT network will consist of four fibre pairs on the main US-Australia trunk route, which will have a design capacity of 18Tbps per fibre pair (and a total design capacity of 72Tbps) using current technology. The system’s initial lit capacity has not yet been determined. The US-Australia Trunk will have a length of 13,483km and land at existing landing points in Sydney (Australia) and Hermosa Beach (California). The branch will be owned and operated by Optus Networks. The Takapuna Branch – to be owned and operated by Spark New Zealand – will connect a branching unit on the main trunk to Takapuna (New Zealand); it will have a length of 1,301km and will comprise two fibre pairs, one of which is an express pair connecting Takapuna directly to Hermosa Beach and Sydney. The 309km Suva Branch will land at an existing facility in Suva (Fiji) and will consist of one fibre pair, to be owned and operated by Fiji International Telecommunications. The Savu Savu Branch (comprising one fibre pair and owned by the Fiji government) will stretch 305km to a newly-established landing point in Savu Savu (Fiji). The Apia Branch will link the main trunk with Apia (Samoa) via one fibre pair with a length of 310km and will be owned by the Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC). The Nukunonu Branch (owned by the Telecommunication Tokelau Corporation) will also comprise one fibre pair and will stretch 53km to a newly built landing station in Nukunonu (Tokelau). The 377km Kiritimati Branch, owned by Bwebwerikinet Limited, will connect the main trunk to a new landing facility in Tabwakea, Kiritimati (Kiribati) and will comprise one fibre pair.

The 4,700km Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS) aiming to link Sydney (Australia) to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Honiara in the Solomon Islands is nearing completion, with the cable currently being laid out in the Australian coastal waters between Brisbane and Sydney. The four fibre-pair CSCS system will deliver a minimum of 20Tbps capacity to PNG and the Solomon Islands, respectively, bringing a total capacity of 40Tbps. The cable system, along with a 730km submarine cable system connecting Honiara to Auki (Malaita Island), Noro (New Georgia Island) and Taro Island, is set to be completed by the end of the year. 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.

The government of Saint Helena has announced that the Fugro Gauss marine vessel is expected to arrive in Saint Helena on 18 August to commence the exploration of the seabed for the planned landing of Google’s Equiano cable, which will initially link Lisbon (Portugal) to Cape Town in South Africa, with planned branches to other African countries. The marine route survey will gather detailed information for the final route engineering before the cable is manufactured. Potential landing locations on Saint Helena are Rupert’s Bay and Sandy Bay. The marine route survey for Google’s Equiano cable was launched on 8 July at the landing site in Melkbosstrand (South Africa), with the marine vessel subsequently exploring the potential route to Swakopmund (Namibia). 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 in West African countries. Google said in its blog: ‘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 fourth private cable, following the deployment of the Junior system linking Rio de Janeiro and Santos in Brasil (certified ready for service [RFS] in Q3 2018), the Curie network between Los Angeles (US) and Valparaiso in Chile (RFS in 2019) and Dunant, linking Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez in France and the US (RFS in Q3 2020).

Japan-based NTT Communications is reportedly planning to extend its undersea cable network to India. Sharad Sanghi, MD and CEO of NTT Communications’ subsidiary Netmagic, told BusinessLine that the company is planning to bring international fibre to India, though the executive did not give a timeframe for the launch. NTT Communications launched international data network services in India through its affiliate in August 2017, after it acquired a Virtual Network Operator-International Long Distance (VNO-ILD) network licence in March 2017. NTT services in India are offered via the Arcstar India Domestic Network, consisting of nine carrier-neutral data centres and five cloud grids.

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Fiji, India, Kiribati, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Helena, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Fiji International Telecommunications (FINTEL), Google (Alphabet), NTT Communications, Pacific Carriage Holding, Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC), Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN), Spark New Zealand Group

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