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

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7 Feb 2020

Telecoms companies Dhiraagu and Ooredoo Maldives have signed an agreement to lay a new submarine cable between Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Both Dhiraagu and Ooredoo Maldives will each hold a 45% share of the cable, while the remaining 10% will be owned by Sri Lankan telecoms operator Dialog Axiata. The cable project will be implemented by Huawei International. Dhiraagu and Ooredoo allocated USD8.4 million and USD9 million respectively for the project.

Papua New Guinea’s PNG DataCo, the state-owned enterprise responsible for the provision of wholesale ICT transmission services under the newly-restructured business of Kumul Telikom Holdings Limited (KTHL), is planning to commence the construction of a cable landing station in Vanimo next week. The new facility – expected to be completed in mid-2020 – will house the 5,457km Kumul Domestic Cable. The Kumul Domestic Cable project is funded by the Export-Import Bank of China and is rolled out by Huawei in preparation for the Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS). The domestic network is aiming to connect 15 coastal provincial capitals, running between Port Moresby, Alotau, Popondetta, Lae and Madang.

GU Holdings (Google), AARNet, RTI JGA and RTI Connectivity have requested Special Temporary Authority (STA) to begin commercial operation of the Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA-S) cable system prior to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) grant of the underlying cable landing licence application. Without such authority, commercial launch of the JGA South cable system will be delayed at a significant cost to applicants and thereby delay the benefits of the new Guam-Australia capacity that the cable will provide. The companies applied for authority to construct, land, and operate the JGA-S fibre-optic submarine cable system connecting Guam and Australia in May 2019, though in June 2019 the FCC removed the application from streamlined processing at the request of the Team Telecom agencies, pending completion of a national security and law enforcement review. The companies however expect the JGA-S cable system to be fully constructed, tested and ready for commercial operation ‘within a matter of weeks’ and prior to finalisation and execution of the Team Telecom agencies’ letter of assurances. Without an STA to begin commercial operation of the JGA-S cable system as planned (early 2020), the applicants and their affiliates ‘may be forced to look for alternative capacity, which might not be available, to meet their needs on the Guam-Australia route.’

NTT America, NTT Worldwide Telecommunications, Edge Cable Holdings (Facebook), HKT Global, PLDT, SoftBank and Vadata (Amazon) have submitted an application to renew and extend with 180 days an STA previously granted to construct, connect and test the US end points of the JUPITER system prior to the FCC’s grant of the pending cable landing licence application. Without such authority, the JUPITER system would likely be delayed at significant cost to the applicants and thereby delay the benefits of new capacity on the US-Japan and US-Philippines routes. The applicants therefore seek renewed and extended STA beginning no later than 18 February 2020 and ending 180 days from grant. The Applicants have notified the Team Telecom agencies of this request. The JUPITER submarine cable system aims to connect Maruyama and Shima in Japan with Los Angeles in the US and Daet in the Philippines. The 14,557km JUPITER network will deliver capacity of more than 60Tbps utilising ROADM which employs wavelength selective switch (WSS) technology, providing a greater diversity of connections and enhanced reliability for customers as well as optimised connectivity to data centres on the West Coast of the US. The system will be supplied by SubCom and is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) in Q3 2020.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has notified the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it has no objection to an application to assign Sprint’s interest in the Americas I cable system to Atlantic Teleconnection Operating Company (ATOC). Sprint currently holds a 6.95% interest in the Florida-Caribbean segment of the Americas I cable, which links Vero Beach (Florida, US) with Magens Bay (St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands) and interconnects to other cables serving the Caribbean and Central and South America. ATOC currently holds around 0.70% of the Americas I system; as a result of the proposed transaction, ATOC’s interest would increase to approximately 7.65%. The 2,013km Americas I cable, which entered services in September 1994, has a design capacity of 800Gbps, and has been upgraded six times between 2009 and 2018.

Telxius Cable USA, Telxius Cable Puerto Rico, Telxius Cable America and Telxius Cable Colombia have notified the FCC of a pro forma transfer of control of cable landing licence interests for the following submarine cable systems: MAREA, BRUSA, Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS) and South America-1 (SAm-1). The pro forma transfer of control from KKR Management LLC to KKR Management LLP, which is deemed to hold negative control over the Telxius Cable Landing Licensees, resulted from an internal reorganisation undertaken by KKR & Co and its subsidiaries. In October 2017 Taurus Bidco (KKR Bidco) acquired a 24.8% voting-and-equity interest in Telxius Telecom and certain negative control rights over the Telxius Cable Landing Licensees from Telefonica and subsequently purchased 15.2% voting-and-equity interest in Telxius in December 2017. Following the consummation of those transactions, Telefonica retained de jure control of the Telxius Cable Landing Licensees, while KKR Management LLC was deemed to hold negative control over the Telxius Cable Landing Licensees. Effective 1 January 2020 KKR & Co and its subsidiaries completed an internal reorganisation, resulting in certain changes to the structure through which KKR Management LLP (formerly KKR Management LLC) is deemed to hold negative control over the Telxius Cable Landing Licensees resulting in a pro forma transfer of control of the Telxius Cable Landing Licensees.

Internet services in Vietnam are expected to be restored by mid-February due to a delay in the repair of two submarine cables, VnExpress writes. Branch S2 of the 6,800km Tata TGN-Intra Asia (TG-IA) cable, which was damaged in December 2019, is now scheduled to be repaired by 9 February, while the Asia Africa Europe (AAE-1) – which also experienced disruptions in December 2019 – is expected to be fixed between 2 February-12 February. The repairs of the S1H branch of the disaster-prone Asia-America Gateway (AAG) system, which suffered a disruption in the section connecting to Ho Chi Minh City, about 163km from the shore off Vung Tau, and the S1I branch connecting Vietnam and Hong Kong (which experienced a breakdown on 22 December) were both completed in January.

Smile Communications CEO Ahmad Farroukh has appealed to the Nigerian government to create an environment where all cable providers have active redundancy from each other in case of cable cuts, following the simultaneous dual cut of the West African Cable System (WACS) and SAT3/WASC cables. The two systems were damaged on 16 January; the breakages had been located in Libreville, Gabon (SAT3/WASC) and Luanda, Angola (WACS). Last week, the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET) said that the repair work is expected to be completed on 8 February 2020.

Lastly, Prysmian Group has debuted its Sirocco HD range of microduct cables, which boast fibre densities of up to 10.5 fibres per mm, enabling fibre count cables (from 96 to 552) to be offered for standard microduct sizes. Sirocco HD microduct cables utilise Prysmian’s BendBright-A2 200µm single-mode bend insensitive fibre, with Ian Griffiths, Director R&D Telecom Business at Prysmian Group explaining: ‘With their extreme fibre count and reduced diameter, Sirocco HD microduct cables make installation faster, more cost effective and more sustainable by reducing the impact on carbon footprint. Designed for installation into microducts, they are perfectly fit for blowing in high density access, FTTx and 5G networks.’

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