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

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21 Feb 2020

Cable laying operations on the Manatua submarine cable system aiming to connect Apia (Samoa) to To’ahotu (Tahiti) have been completed, with the system now expected to enter commercial operations in June 2020. 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 focus of the project will now shift to completing the integration of the six cable landing stations, and commissioning and testing of the Manatua cable network. 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.

Huawei Marine Networks (HMN) has been awarded a contract to construct a new submarine cable linking the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The Maldives Sri Lanka Cable (MSC) will comprise four fibre pairs, equipped with Huawei’s high-output titanium housing repeaters. The 130km system is expected to be ready for service (RFS) by the end of 2020. The MSC cable will be owned and operated by a consortium of investors including Ooredoo Maldives, Dhiraagu and Sri Lankan telecoms operator Dialog Axiata; both Dhiraagu and Ooredoo Maldives will each hold a 45% share of the cable, while the remaining 10% will be owned by Dialog Axiata.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted a 180-day extension (until 17 August 2020) to a Special Temporary Authority (STA) to NTT America, NTT Worldwide Telecommunications, Edge Cable Holdings (Facebook), HKT Global, PLDT, SoftBank and Vadata (Amazon) to construct, connect and test the US end points of the JUPITER system. In their application, the companies said that 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 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 RFS in Q3 2020.

Elsewhere, the FCC has granted a STA for the commercial operation of the Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA-S) cable system to GU Holdings (Google), AARNet, RTI JGA and RTI Connectivity, valid until 17 August 2020. 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.’

Orange has teamed up with Telefonica’s infrastructure arm Telxius to collaborate on backhaul extensions for the Google-led Dunant cable project in Europe and the US. The 6,600km trans-Atlantic cable will connect Virginia Beach (US) to Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez (France) and is expected to launch commercial services in late 2020. Under the agreement, Orange and Telxius will offer co-location services at their respective Cable Landing Stations (CLS) in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez and Virginia Beach, with onward terrestrial connectivity to Ashburn (Orange) and Paris (Telxius). Jerome Barre, CEO of Orange Wholesale and International Networks said: ‘We are pleased to announce this agreement with Telxius, which will allow us to provide our customers with very high capacity end-to-end services, as well as network redundancy, on the strategic transatlantic route. We will be operating two fibre pairs of over 30Tbps between France and the US. It is a valuable extension to Orange’s global network joining our Atlantic and Mediterranean routes to Africa, the Middle East and Asia with guaranteed best in class quality of service.’

Ciena has announced that it has upgraded the Europe India Gateway (EIG) submarine cable system to accelerate and strengthen connectivity between businesses in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and India. Using Ciena’s GeoMesh solution, powered by WaveLogic Ai coherent optics, the upgrade adds 24.3Tbps of capacity to the EIG cable, with a spectral efficiency increase of 52% in comparison to previous technology. With WaveLogic Ai, EIG can transport up to 400Gbps per wavelength. The EIG cable system is a 15,000km international fibre-optic submarine cable system that links the UK with Gibraltar, Portugal, Monaco, France, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Oman, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India.

Hawaiki Submarine Cable and New Zealand’s Crown-owned Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (REANNZ) have signed an agreement under which Hawaiki will provide REANNZ with connectivity, as well as additional capacity on both the Hawaiki network and trans-Tasman and trans-Pacific subsea routes. REANNZ plans to expand its reach in Australia and the US, opening new PoPs in Sydney (Australia), Guam and Hawaii (US). The Hawaiki system – which entered into service in July 2018 – has five segments and currently lands in five locations: Sydney, Australia; Mangawhai Heads, New Zealand; Tafuna, American Samoa; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; and Pacific City, Oregon (US). REANNZ was an anchor tenant for the Hawaiki cable, inking a 25-year capacity contract worth NZD65 million (USD41 million) with the cable developers back in July 2014.

Lastly, internet services in a number of African countries have now been fully restored, after the repair works on the simultaneous cable breaks in the SAT3/WASC and West African Cable System (WACS) cables were completed. Telkom’s wholesale division Openserve said in a statement: ‘In the early hours of this morning (19 February), Openserve received confirmation from aboard cable ship Leon Thevenin, that the portion of the SAT3/WASC repair off the shore of Congo has now been completed.’ Orange Marine’s cable repair vessel will now proceed to its next location, offshore Ghana, to undertake a power-related (shunt fault) repair on the WACS cable, Openserve said.

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