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

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25 Oct 2019

SUB.CO has announced it has selected SubCom to build a new international subsea cable system that will directly connect Muscat in Oman to Perth (Australia). The Oman Australia Cable (OAC) system will span 9,700km between the two continents, and will feature three fibre pairs with an option to upgrade to four (based upon final demand). Additional branching units designed to extend the system into Salalah (Oman) and Djibouti in the future are also on the cards. The OAC is expected to commence manufacturing later this year and is scheduled to be completed by December 2021. Bevan Slattery, founder of SUB.CO, said: ‘I am delighted to be building a new, express route providing diversity and low latency between Australia and EMEA, while at the same time avoiding some of the challenges associated with building through the shallows of the Sunda Strait and busy South China Sea. For me, the Oman Australia Cable is the final piece of an important puzzle to improve Australia’s resiliency and recognises the growing importance of Oman in becoming the new “Cloud hub” in EMEAOAC will be highly complementary to the recent submarine cables between Perth and Singapore as well as INDIGO-Central, which will be used to extend OAC to Australia’s cloud capital – Sydney.’

Crosslake Fibre has revealed that its new fibre-optic cable between Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and Buffalo, New York (US) is now complete and has entered commercial service. The diverse, ultra-low latency route connects Equinix TR2 at 45 Parliament Street and 151 Front Street West, to Equinix NY4 in Secaucus (New Jersey) with multiple extensions to various PoPs in both cities. The 58km system traverses Lake Ontario from Toronto to New York State utilising a specialized 192 fibre strand submarine cable. Using current technology, the cable, which is less than two inches in diameter, can provide up to several thousand terabits per second of capacity throughput.

EllaLink Group has been granted operator licences by Brazilian regulator the National Telecommunications Agency (Agencia Nacional de Telecomunicacoes, Anatel) and Portugal’s National Communications Authority (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicacoes, ANACOM). With marine survey operations completed and commencement of manufacturing activities, the EllaLink system is on track to be ready for service (RFS) in 2020. The EllaLink system integrates terrestrial fibres with a subsea system that directly connects Brazil and Europe, linking the major hubs of Sao Paulo and Fortaleza in Brazil with Lisbon (Portugal), Madrid (Spain) and Marseille (France). Diego Matas, Chief Operating Officer of EllaLink, said: ‘Award of the telecoms operator licences in Brazil and Portugal is a significant regulatory step for the EllaLink project. We remain fully committed to offer to the market a unique optical platform between Europe and Latin America that will [be] ready for service by the end of next year.’ The EllaLink system is designed to offer 72Tbps of capacity using leading edge coherent technology.

Telecommunications giant PLDT is investing USD136.7 million in the trans-Pacific JUPITER cable system linking the Philippines to the US and Japan. The PLDT said that it finalised the technical and management agreements with a consortium of international providers – including Amazon, Facebook, SoftBank, PCCW Global and NTT Communications – that will ‘further increase its international capacity and resiliency of its direct undersea fibre links to the United States and Japan through the trans-Pacific cable system called JUPITER’. The new undersea cable project spans 14,557km and will connect to PLDT’s cable landing station in Daet, Camarines Norte. The project will provide additional capacity of more than 22Tbps from the Philippines directly to and from Japan, and 17.6Tbps to the West Coast of the US, the telco said. The new cable system is expected to be completed and operational by the third quarter of 2020.

The SEACOM submarine cable system suffered a ‘service-affecting outage’ between Mombasa in Kenya and Zafarana (Egypt) earlier this week. Cable owner SEACOM said that ‘all linear transmission traffic’ on the SEACOM subsea cable system on the east coast of Africa, to and from Europe, were affected, adding: ‘Customers with IP or other managed services terminating between Dar es Salaam (in Tanzania) and South Africa will remain unaffected but could experience a slight increase in latency (network round-trip times) as traffic is routed over SEACOM’s west coast transmission links.’ The fault was subsequently repaired, with SEACOM saying: ‘We are still investigating the cause of the outage and will provide necessary updates as we have more information.’

The FCC has changed the status of the application filed by Hawaiki Submarine Cable USA (HSC USA), HCL Limited Partnership (HCL LP) and Australia’s specialist infrastructure investment manager Palisade Investment Partners for the transfer of de facto control of HSC USA from HCL Limited Partnership to Palisade to ‘unblocked’. Palisade and HCL LP entered into binding agreements to become equity partners in September 2018, with funds managed by Palisade Partners acquiring an equity ownership interest in HCL LP. As a result of the transaction, Palisade has acquired a combination of redeemable preference and ordinary equity interests in HCL LP that equate to 30% of the voting rights in HCL LP (with Palisade holding 10% of the ordinary shares and 100% of the preferred shares in HCL LP). However, the Department of Justice (DoJ) requested in January 2019 that the FCC defer action on the application, pending a DoJ review of the matter. The construction of the Hawaiki submarine cable commenced in March 2016 and the FCC granted the US cable landing licence in December 2017. The Hawaiki System – which entered into service in July 2018 – has five segments and currently lands in five locations: Sydney, Australia; Mangawhai Heads, New Zealand; Tafuna, American Samoa; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; and Pacific City, Oregon (US). The Hawaiki System’s capacity and facilities of the main trunk are 100%-owned by the HCL LP (excluding the spur to American Samoa, which is owned by the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority [ASTCA]). In addition, HSC USA owns and operates the Hawaiki System’s cable landing station in Oahu (Hawaii).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been notified of the pro forma assignment of the cable landing licence held by Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) for the FLAG Atlantic-1 (FA-1) cable system from RGL to Reliance Globalcom Limited, Debtor-in-Possession (RGL DIP) in connection with the pending bankruptcy of RGL DIP and its affiliates. The FCC originally licensed the FA-1 system in 1999, and the cable entered commercial operations in June 2001. GCX and certain GCX’s affiliates filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in September 2019; during the pendency of the bankruptcy proceeding, Michael Katzenstein, RGL DIP’s Chief Restructuring Officer, will oversee RGL DIP’s management and the operations of the FA-1 cable system. On emergence from bankruptcy, certain GCX creditors or other equity purchasers will own the successor entity to GCX Limited DIP, and indirectly, the successor entity to RGL DIP – rather than Reliance Communications Limited (RCOM), the current ultimate parent of RGL DIP and GCX Limited DIP, and its largest shareholder Anil Ambani.

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