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

31 Jan 2020

GU Holdings (an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Google) and Edge USA (a unit of internet giant Facebook) have requested a Special Temporary Authority (STA) to begin commercial operations on limited portions of the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) system prior to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) grant of the pending application for a licence to construct, land and operate the entire PLCN system. Specifically, GU Holdings and Edge USA seek 180-day STA to begin operating the following portions of PLCN (connecting the US with Taiwan and the US with the Philippines): the fibre pair owned by GU Holdings and its affiliates and used to connect the US and Branching Unit 1 (Fibre Pair 2 on each of Segments S1.1.1 and S.1.1.2); the branch owned by GU Holdings’ affiliates connecting Toucheng (Taiwan) to Branching Unit 1, including the two fibre pairs on that branch (Segment S2); the fibre pair owned by Edge USA and its affiliates and used to connect the US and Branching Unit 2 (Fiber Pair 1 on each of Segments S1.1.1, S1.1.2 and S1.2); the branch owned by Edge USA’s affiliates connecting Baler (Philippines) to Branching Unit 2, including the two fibre pairs on that branch (Segment 3); and common equipment necessary to operate Fiber Pair 2 between the US and Taiwan and Fiber Pair 1 between the US and Baler (Philippines). In their application, the companies stressed that they anticipated that the system would be operational by late 2019; the applicants said that the capacity is now installed, tested and ready for service (RFS) and the absence of a STA to operate the US-Taiwan and US-Philippines segments would force them to seek alternative capacity, which may not be available. The 12,971km PLCN submarine cable is aiming to link El Segundo (California, US) with Deep Water Bay (Hong Kong), Toucheng (Taiwan) and Baler and San Fernando City (both in the Philippines). The system will have a total capacity of 144Tbps and is currently scheduled for commercial launch in Q1 2020. The main trunk between the US and Hong Kong will consist of six fibre pairs, and will be owned by GU Holdings, Edge Cable Holdings and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC); the branch to Taiwan will be wholly-owned by Google Cable Bermuda, while the two branches to the Philippines will be owned by Edge USA’s affiliate Edge Network Services. In addition, a fourth stubbed branch is also under consideration, and if constructed, it would be controlled by PLDC. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, PLDC selected SubCom for the construction of the PLCN system in November 2015.

Telxius Cable USA, Telxius Cable Puerto Rico and Telxius Cable America have supplemented their application to the FCC to modify the cable landing licence for the South America-1 (SAm-1) submarine cable system to authorise segments connecting Punta Carnero (Ecuador) and Mancora (Peru). The applicants note that since filing their request, the FCC had granted a separate modification of the SAm-1 system by adding a landing in the Dominican Republic and adding Telxius America as a joint licensee. Further, the applicants request that the FCC condition the grant of a modified cable landing licence upon their compliance with the updated letter of assurances for the SAm-1 system executed by Telxius USA for the benefit of the Department of Homeland Security on 4 December 2019. The 25,000km SAm-1 system (licensed in 2000) is a non-common carrier cable system that connects Boca Raton (Florida); San Juan (Puerto Rico); Las Toninas (Argentina); Fortaleza, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and Santos (Brazil); Arica and Valparaiso (Chile); Barranquilla (Colombia); Punta Carnero (Ecuador); Puerto Barrios and Puerto San Jose (Guatemala); and Lurin and Mancora (Peru). The SAm-1 cable has up to four fibre pairs per segment, with each fibre pair featuring a current design capacity of 19.2Tbps.

SPARKbANGLA Submarine Cables (SBSCL) has revealed plans to deploy the Asia-Africa-Australia (3A) submarine cable linking Bilbao (Spain) to Hong Kong. The system will comprise four high capacity branches and will provide 240Tbps of design capacity, twelve-16 fibre pair upgradeable. 3A will consist of a number of local branches, dependant on demand of nearby route countries. The system will be owned by a consortium comprising Business Lab, SPARKbANGLA Technologies and Elham Resources. SBSCL CEO Della Zahura said: ‘3A is a practical implementation of Third Generation LOOP system submarine cable technology. All European and North American data centres would be reachable in shortest latency from three continents using this system.’

AST Telecom, American Samoa Hawaii Cable and Samoa American Samoa Cable – all of which are indirect subsidiaries of Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) – have notified the FCC of the pro-forma transfer of control of the cable landing licence for the American Samoa Hawaii (ASH) cable system from Amalgamated BlueSky Telecom Holdings Incorporated (ABTHI) to Amalgamated BlueSky Telecom Holdings (ABTH). The application was submitted due to ATH converting ABTHI from a Delaware corporation to a Delaware limited liability company, effective 31 December 2019, for tax planning purposes. The FCC originally licensed the ASH cable in 2009, with the system entering commercial services on 7 July 2009.

Lastly, South African infrastructure provider Openserve has revealed that the ship dispatched to repair a simultaneous dual cable damage that occurred on 16 January 2020 has reached its destination and has begun works on the SAT3/WASC and West African Cable System (WACS) cable faults. The Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET) said that the repair work is expected to be completed on 8 February 2020.

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