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

24 Jan 2020

PCCW Global, the international operating division of Hong Kong-based telecoms provider HKT, and PEACE Cable International Network are partnering to extend the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) Cable to Southern Africa via the PEACE South extension. Phase 1 of the PEACE project (spanning 12,000km) will link France to Pakistan through a single landing point in the city of Marseille (France) using the Europe-Asia route, and to the city of Mombasa (Kenya) via a short route towards the Indian Ocean that will be expanded to South Africa via the PEACE South extension under Phase 2, reaching a total length of 15,000km. The system will deploy 200G and WSS technologies, which provide capabilities to transmit 16Tbps per fibre pair. The cable – expected to be ready for service (RFS) in Q2 2021 – will be deployed by Huawei Marine Networks; a contract for the cable manufacturing had been awarded to HENGTONG Marine. Orange will supply and operate the cable landing station in Marseille. Frederick Chui, Chief Commercial Officer at PCCW Global, said: ‘Since the construction of PEACE East and PEACE Med are both expected to be completed on time, on budget and within the originally specified plan of work, the planned extension through PEACE South is a natural expansion for Asian investment in Africa, enhancing cooperation and shared economic benefits in the exchange of goods, technology and ideas.’

Djibouti Telecom, Somtel, Telkom Kenya and SubCom have announced that marine cable installation of the Djibouti Africa Regional Express 1 (DARE1) submarine cable system is currently underway, with the cable landing in La Siesta Beach (Djibouti). In addition to the installation of the main trunk, the installation of the two branch legs to the system’s four landing stations – Djibouti (Djibouti), Bosaso (Somalia), Mogadishu (Somalia) and Mombasa (Kenya) – has also commenced. The two installation vessels are progressing on schedule and marine operations are scheduled to be completed in March 2020. The cable developers also revealed that the entire system is on track to be ready for provisional acceptance in June 2020. The 4,854km cable – which will include 41 dual-stage repeaters to maximise its capacity – is configured as a three-fibre pair trunk and each trunk fibre pair has cross sectional capacity of 40 channels at 300Gbps; in addition to the dual-stage repeaters included on all branches of the system, the Bosaso and Mogadishu segments will be equipped with a switched ROADM, to provide flexible capacity routing and a robust fault protection scheme for the system.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been awarded a contract to deploy a new submarine cable system connecting the three Tokelau atolls of Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo. The unrepeated (OALC5) 250km cable with two fibre pairs will provide a total bandwidth capacity of 20Tbps. The system will be interconnected with the in-deployment Southern Cross NEXT submarine cable, providing onward connectivity to the US, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji and Kiribati. The Tokelau Cable is co-funded by the Government of New Zealand and the Government of Tokelau, and the cable will be managed by Teletok on behalf of the two government partners. The system is scheduled to be RFS at the beginning of 2021.

The Manatua submarine cable system aiming to connect Apia (Samoa) to To’ahotu (Tahiti) has landed at Bora Bora (French Polynesia). The 3,166km 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 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.

Representatives of state-owned Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company (BSCCL) have revealed that the company is aiming to export some of its unused bandwidth to Nepal, The Daily Star writes. BSCCL is said to be in talks with Nepal Telecom to export around 100Gbps of bandwidth to the landlocked country, with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) expected to be inked ‘shortly’. Mashiur Rahman, managing director of BSCCL, told the news agency: ‘Discussions have been ongoing for a long time and now we are ready to ink the deal’. The executive said that BSCCL and Nepal Telecom have approached an Indian company to assist the establishment of the connection, as Bangladesh has no direct border with Nepal: ‘So, before finalising the deal we will also have to sign a tripartite agreement.’ Bangladesh currently has 2,600Gbps of bandwidth capacity from two submarine cables, with only around 900Gbps consumed locally; 10Gbps is exported to India’s northeastern state of Tripura via state-run telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), though the deal is scheduled to be suspended next month. A previous BSCCL plan to export surplus bandwidth to landlocked Bhutan fell though due to India’s unwillingness to join the project.

Orange Marine’s cable repair vessel Leon Thevenin has departed Cape Town (South Africa) and is on its way to Angola, South African infrastructure provider Openserve revealed. Leon Thevenin was dispatched by the Maintenance and Operations Sub-Committees of the SAT3/WASC and West African Cable System (WACS) consortia to repair a simultaneous dual cable fault that occurred on 16 January 2020; breakages had been located in Libreville, Gabon (SAT3/WASC) and Luanda, Angola (WACS). The vessel is expected to reach its first repair site on 28 January 2020, ‘weather conditions permitting.’

State-owned TeleYemen has revealed that repair works of the FALCON system, which suffered a fault last week, will commence in the ‘third week of February’. The system breakage affected internet connectivity in a number of countries, including Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Ethiopia. According to reports, the cable fault had resulted in an 80% drop in capacity in Yemen, plunging the country into internet darkness.

Equipment vendor Nokia and Angola Cables are trialling Nokia’s Photonic Service Engine 3 (PSE-3) chipset for what they claim is the ‘first direct optical connection between the US and Africa’. The route provides direct, low-latency trans-Atlantic routing and simplifies the turn-up of services to better serve growing data consumption markets in Africa. The new service leverages the interconnection of two existing subsea cable systems – the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) and Monet. Combining the systems in the joint trial allows for 300Gbps of traffic between Miami (US) and Luanda (Angola). The 6,165km SACS system linking Brazil to Angola (certified RFS in September 2018) is owned and operated by Angola Cables, while the 10,556km Monet system between the US and Brazil (December 2017) is owned by a consortium comprising Angola Cables, Google, Algar Telecom and Antel Uruguay. Fernando Azevedo, Technical Director at Angola Cables, said: ‘With Nokia’s PSE-3, Angola Cables can optically interconnect the Monet and SACS submarine fibre-optic cables, enabling more capacity and a further reduction in latency between content providers in North America and the rapidly growing data consumption markets in Africa.’

Telefonica’s infrastructure subsidiary Telxius has revealed that it has successfully reached record 550Gbps single-wavelength channel speeds over the BRUSA system during an advanced trial leveraging Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e) coherent optical solution. In addition, a commercially deployable solution for a total capacity of more than 20Tbps on a single fibre pair was verified. With WaveLogic 5 Extreme, the BRUSA cable is now able to reach a total transmission capacity of more than 160Tbps. The 11,200km BRUSA cable system – which was certified RFS in August 2018 – connects Virginia Beach, Virginia (US); San Juan (Puerto Rico); and Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro (both Brazil).

Equinix has announced that RTI Connectivity (RTI) has selected Equinix IBX data centres to extend its connectivity solutions in Tokyo (Japan) and Sydney (Australia). Equinix termination points that are currently live include the following two cable routes: Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA South) connecting Sydney and Guam with termination into Equinix SY4 IBX in Sydney and with a branch to Australia’s Sunshine Coast and Japan-Guam-Australia North (JGA North) connecting Tokyo and Guam with termination into Equinix TY2 IBX in Tokyo.

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