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

6 Sep 2019

Nigeria-based infrastructure firm MainOne Cable Company has announced that the Orange Marine cable laying ship Pierre de Fermat is in the process of deploying branches from the MainOne submarine cable system to the additional landing points in Dakar (Senegal) and Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire). MainOne confirmed that the cable ship docked in Dakar earlier this week and is preparing to commence laying activities, while the landing in Abidjan is expected to take place in October 2019. The cable landing stations have already been built in both locations and are ready for installation of equipment, with a commercial launch of the system scheduled for November 2019. In September 2018, Orange and MainOne signed an agreement for the construction and installation of the two new branches and landing points in Dakar and Abidjan. Via the partnership, Orange will acquire additional capacity on the MainOne cable, and will be the owner of the cable landing station in Dakar.

Australia’s Vocus has revealed that its project to connect the Tiwi islands to Darwin (Australia) is ‘making excellent progress’, with the surveying, design and cable manufacturing of the system now complete, while work to install the system has commenced in August 2019. The project is scheduled to be completed in October 2019, providing communities located on Melville and Bathurst Islands with access to high-capacity fibre-optic link to the mainland. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, Vocus and the government of the Northern Territory (NT) – a federal Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of the country – announced a project to establish the first submarine cable link between the Tiwi islands and the mainland under a capital grant arrangement. Vocus was enlisted to build, own and operate the submarine link. The telco will leverage its existing infrastructure, especially the 2,100km North West Cable System, to deliver the branching unit. It will also use the pre-existing Vocus cable landing station facility at Mindil Beach in Darwin and another landing station at Wurrumiyanga, on Bathurst Island.

Elsewhere, Vocus has added a ‘substantial volume’ of Hawaiki cable capacity to its network, in addition to a multi-million investment in network upgrades, according to Vocus NZ chief executive Mark Callander. The CEO highlighted that the Hawaiki deal strengthens the company’s network and complements Vocus’ investment in its own cable systems, adding that Vocus already has a large international customer using the cable. Callander also revealed a raft of New Zealand network investments, including the rollout of next-generation optical hardware from Infinera on its Auckland to Hamilton route that allows 200Gbps per wavelength, while Akamai capacity increased 400% due to multiple 100G deployments into Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Chile’s Transport and Telecommunications Ministry (MTT) and the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) have awarded a contract for a feasibility study for the Asia-South America Digital Gateway submarine cable project. The study is aiming to provide the technical, legal, financial and economic specifications for the construction of an undersea cable between the two continents. The potential cable route covers a distance of approximately 24,000km and its initial design includes between four and eight fibre-optic pairs, with a transmission capacity of 10Tbps-20Tbps. A total of eight proposals were received from both national and international companies and consultants, with the winners announced as a consortium comprising Telecommunications Management Group (TMG) and WFN Strategies. The duo will receive USD2.982 million from the Development Bank of Latin America (Corporacion Andina de Fomento – Banco de Desarrollo de America Latina, CAF), which agreed to co-finance the study in July. The final report is scheduled for release by mid-2020.

The planned USD500 million Chile-China submarine cable could potentially land in New Zealand, with China’s state-run press agency Xinhua reporting that the cable would begin in the Chilean city of Valparaiso, ‘passing New Zealand, Australia and French Polynesia’ on its way to Shanghai (China). Stuff.co.nz has quoted a spokesman for New Zealand’s Communications Minister Kris Faafoi as saying that while the government was aware of the cable plan, ‘no formal approach’ had been made to New Zealand for a landing station so far. An alternative, more expensive route could see the cable terminate in Japan.

Repair work on the disaster-prone Asia-America Gateway (AAG) system has been delayed by eight days, with internet users in Vietnam expected to experience slow speeds until 11 September, VnExpress writes. The system suffered a disruption on 16 August in the section connecting Ho Chi Minh City to Hong Kong, around 125km off the shore of Vung Tau. A local internet service provider subsequently revealed that another section of the AAG cable also suffered a disruption but provided no more details. The technicians’ team will repair the faulty section on 6 September and is expected to complete the work on 10 September. Since its connection in November 2009, the USD560 million AAG cable – stretching more than 20,000km and linking Southeast Asia and the US – has suffered numerous faults, including at least five disruptions in 2017 and around four cuts in 2018.

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