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

1 Nov 2019

The Government of Montserrat has signed an XCD16 million (USD5.9 million) deal with Southern Caribbean Fiber (SCF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Digicel Group, for the installation of a new submarine fibre-optic cable system. Under the 15-year agreement – funded via the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG) – SCF will manage, maintain and operate a new 25km fibre-optic cable, which paves the way for faster, more reliable and more resilient internet connectivity via Guadeloupe and Antigua. The agreement also provides for ten years of high speed broadband internet access for the Government of Montserrat for free. SCF won the contract as part of a competitive international tendering process, with aims to complete the installation of Montserrat’s new fibre optic system by the summer of 2020. Montserrat has been without international fibre-optic connectivity for more than 20 years, after the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano cut off the island’s submarine branch to the Eastern Caribbean Fibre System (ECFS). Since then, all of Montserrat’s international telephony and data communications have been routed via a microwave network to Antigua.

Solomon Islands’ Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure Development, Manasseh Maelanga, has revealed that the island’s connection to the 4,700km Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS) is expected to go live in February 2020, with the government committed to carrying out all preparatory work required for the launch in timely fashion. The international four fibre-pair system will deliver a minimum of 20Tbps capacity to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Solomon Islands, respectively, bringing a total capacity of 40Tbps. Construction work on the Solomon Islands Domestic Network (SIDN), which will interconnect with the CSCS, is also underway; the 730km domestic submarine cable system will connect Honiara in the Solomon Islands to Auki (Malaita Island), Noro (New Georgia Island) and Taro Island. Alcatel Submarine Networks’ (ASN’s) cable laying ship Ile de Brehat is currently laying the Honiara to Auki branch, with Noro and Taro expected to be connected to the domestic network by December this year. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in July 2018 Australia’s Vocus Group enlisted ASN to build the CSCS cable. The AUD137 million (USD101 million) cable project was awarded to Vocus by the Australian government in June 2018.

Global Marine Group (GMG), a unit of New York-headquartered HC2 Holdings, has agreed to sell its 49% stake in Huawei Marine Networks to Shanghai-listed cable maker Hengtong Optic-Electric for USD140 million, thus valuing Huawei Marine at USD285 million. Under the agreement, GMG will sell 30% of Huawei Marine to Hengtong at closing and retain a 19% interest in the unit under a two-year put option agreement at the greater of the same equity value (USD285 million) or fair market value. Hengtong is also purchasing Huawei’s full 51% stake and will own 81% of the joint venture upon the closing of both sales, and 100% upon the exercise of GMG’s put option. Completion of the sale is expected to be finalised during the first quarter of 2020, subject to customary closing conditions.

Japanese telecommunications giant NTT has established a submarine cable unit, called Orient Link, in Singapore to capitalise on the growing demand for connectivity in Southeast Asia. NTT holds a 42% stake in the venture, with the Japan ICT Fund taking a 38% holding and Singapore-based Wen Capital owning the remaining 20%. Hajime Miyazaki, director of the London-based NTT unit (in charge of the group’s overseas businesses), revealed that Orient Link will commence the deployment of a submarine cable linking Singapore with other Southeast Asian countries in December; the new infrastructure is scheduled to enter into service in two years.

Internet services in Pakistan have now been restored after a fault in the SeaMeWe-4 submarine system was repaired on 30 October, shortly after its failure. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA’s) spokesperson Khurram Mehran told The News that the authority has asked Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) to provide a report on the outage after an investigation.

The IMEWE consortium comprising nine telecom carriers is deploying Ciena’s coherent optical solutions and automation software to address network capacity requirements. Ciena is providing its GeoMesh solution based on the 6500 packet-optical platform with Ciena’s Manage, Control and Plan domain controller software to upgrade the 12,091km IMEWE cable linking India and Europe via the Middle East with increased bandwidth capacity and improved network management. IMEWE is using Ciena’s WaveLogic Ai technology to deploy 200G per wave on the majority of the IMEWE digital line section. The collaboration of IMEWE and Ciena enabled successful migration of 36.6Tbps of live traffic.

Chilean multi-service telecommunications provider Gtd Teleductos has deployed a suite of Infinera solutions – including Infinera’s 7300 Multi-haul Transport Platform, mTera Universal Transport Platform, and Transcend software-defined networking (SDN) solution –to increase capacity across its terrestrial and submarine footprint in Chile. Gtd’s Prat system stretches 3,500km and connects a number of Chilean cities, including Antofagasta, Arica, Iquique, La Serena, Puerto Montt, Talcahuano and Valparaiso. Fernando Gana Barroilhet, Chief of Infrastructure Strategy at Gtd, said: ‘Deploying Infinera enabled us to make significant upgrades in our metro and long-haul fibre networks, bringing much-needed broadband services to users across Chile and South America.’

Seaborn Networks has announced that its IP network is now fully operational. The network builds upon the delivery of Seabras-1 submarine cable system, which provides a direct connection between Brazil and the US. Seaborn says that its newly launched IP network provides high-quality, low-latency connections for internet service providers, telecom operators and global content providers. With locations in Sao Paulo (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro, New Jersey and New York, Seaborn says it is now able to provide high-capacity connections to top-quality transit services, content providers and the major peering exchanges in these regions.

UAE-based Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), which operates under the brand du, and Bahrain’s Batelco have established a regional intelligent network provider called Arc in a bid to ‘to simplify connectivity across hubs in the Middle East with interconnected data centre solutions’. Arc is working with carriers, data centres, cloud and internet exchange (IX) partners across the region to continually expand its reach and grow across markets. It enables customers to build flexible and agile network ecosystems and deliver digital experiences to end users. As an initial phase, Arc is connecting over 30 PoPs, integrating data centres in the UAE and Bahrain, and connecting terrestrial and submarine cable systems.

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