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

17 Jan 2020

Avaroa Cable has confirmed that the Manatua submarine cable system aiming to connect Apia (Samoa) to To’ahotu (Tahiti) has landed at Rutaki village, Rarotonga (Cook Islands), with the system now set to be connected to the Rarotonga International Cable Landing Station being constructed at Aroa. The Manatua system will comprise a two/three fibre pair trunk, with branching units to Niue, Aitutaki (Cook Islands, one fibre pair), Rarotonga (Cook Islands, three fibre pairs) and Vaitape (French Polynesia, one fibre pair). The cable is scheduled to land in Tahiti and Bora Bora (French Polynesia) in January 2020 and is now expected to enter commercial services in May 2020 (previously June 2020), providing 10Tbps of capacity at launch. The international treaty for the system’s deployment was inked in April 2017 by the President of French Polynesia, the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, the Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa, and the Premier of the Government of Niue.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted the pro forma transfer of the cable landing licence for the Seabras-1 submarine cable system from Seabras 1 USA to Seabras 1 USA Debtor-in-Possession (Seabras 1 USA DIP), in connection with the pending bankruptcy proceedings of Seabras 1 USA DIP and its direct parent Seabras 1 Bermuda Debtor-in-Possession (Seabras 1 Bermuda DIP). The FCC originally licensed the Seabras-1 cable network in November 2016 and the system entered commercial services on 8 September 2017. To restructure Seabras 1 Bermuda’s debt, of which Seabras 1 USA is a guarantor, in December 2019 the two companies filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. During the pendency of the Chapter 11 proceedings, Seaborn Management will continue to manage the operations of the Seabras-1 system and exercise de facto control over the system pursuant to a management agreement between Seaborn Management and Seaborn Group, the direct parent of Seabras 1 Bermuda, as described in the original cable landing licence application.

NEC Corporation and its subsidiary OCC Corporation have completed full qualification of subsea repeaters and optical cable containing up to 20 fibre pairs (40 fibres). This is a 25% improvement in fibre count over the 16 fibre pair systems previously built by NEC. NEC claims to have achieved this milestone with minor modifications to its repeater and cable designs. Takaaki Ogata, Executive Technical Manager of NEC’s Submarine Network Division, said: ‘As global capacity demand continues to soar, NEC is committed to helping our customers scale up their networks in a cost-effective way,’ adding that ‘further significant increases in the fibre pair count of NEC’s wet plant are coming soon.’ Mass production of the newly-qualified wet plant has commenced.

A working group – created in May 2019 with the aim of analysing the technical and financial aspects of a project to replace the submarine cables connecting mainland Portugal and the autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira (CAM) via a submarine cable – has concluded that the replacement of the infrastructure (including the submarine cable stations and adaptation to provide complementary services) could cost EUR119 million (USD133 million), Jornal Economico writes. The working group recommended that the project is considered a ‘priority’ and suggested that the government seeks EU funding to help out with the deployment. In addition, the working group has put forward eleven recommendations for new cables to secure telecommunications in the CAM ring from 2023 onwards.

A reported break in the FALCON system has affected internet connectivity in a number of countries, including Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Ethiopia. According to reports, the cable fault has resulted in an 80% drop in capacity in Yemen, plunging the country into internet darkness. The fault is currently under repair; ISP YemenNet said that it is working with Oman’s Omantel to restore connectivity by receiving capacity from a different undersea cable system.

South African infrastructure provider Openserve has revealed that it suffered an ‘unusual and simultaneous dual cable break’, itweb.co.za writes. The infrastructure provider disclosed that it had been liaising with the West African Cable System (WACS) and the SAT3/WASC cable consortiums to determine the cause of the loss of service on both submarine cable systems, and the breakages had been located in Libreville, Gabon (SAT3/WASC) and Luanda, Angola (WACS). The operator said that due to the faults, its global capacity clients are currently experiencing reduced speeds on international browsing, while international voice calling and mobile roaming have also been impacted. The company said that it is cooperating with the consortiums and their original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners to ensure the repair of the cable faults.

The EllaLink Group has inked an agreement with Portuguese utility RENTELECOM to use dark fibres in Portugal and Spain for data centre interconnection. RENTELECOM’s electricity and gas transport networks comprise of 8,100km of fibre-optic ICT backbone covering Portugal and reaching the Spanish border. EllaLink will integrate RENTELECOM’s fibres in its optical platform to enhance its services from Sines (Portugal) to Madrid and Lisbon (Spain). The protected fibre ring will connect all the major data centres of both capital cities allowing EllaLink to serve PoPs directly towards Fortaleza, Sao Paulo and Rio in Brazil. Diego Matas, COO of EllaLink, said: ‘This agreement with RENTELECOM further reinforces our presence in Portugal and Spain, breaking ground for a long-term collaboration. The high availability of RENTELECOM’s fibres over the shortest route to Madrid marks a significant step in the expansion of the EllaLink terrestrial network to meet increasing bandwidth demands.’

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