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

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6 Mar 2020

The Kumul Domestic Submarine Cable System has landed in West Sepik’s Vanimo in Papua New Guinea (PNG), The National writes. The project, part-funded by the Chinese Exim Bank (which provided 85% preferential buyers credit to the PNG government to carry out the project), is being rolled out by Huawei in preparation for the Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS); China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation meanwhile is the designated provider of cable equipment. The domestic network is aiming to connect 15 coastal provincial capitals, running between Port Moresby, Alotau, Popondetta, Lae and Madang. The Kumul system consists of three sections; System 1 – connecting Jayapura to Arawa with seven branching units to Vanimo, Wewak, Lorengau, Madang, Kimbe, Kavieng and Kokopo – is currently under deployment; System 2 spanning 1,874km and connecting Madang to Port Moresby with three branching units to Lae, Popondetta and Alotau was completed in December 2018; and System 3 connecting Daru and Kerema to the existing branching units in the 200km PNG LNG system. According to Liu Linlin, commercial counsellor at the Chinese embassy in PNG, the project should be completed and transferred to PNG by mid-2020.

Fibre operator Lyse has revealed that its unit Altibox Carrier has awarded the contract for the installation of the Skagenfiber West submarine cable to Norway-based Cecon Contracting. Altibox Carrier director of technology Atle Soma said the marine floor examination has recently been completed and that cable installation will be completed in summer 2020. The 170km cable system will link Hirtshals in Denmark to Larvik (Norway).

GU Holdings’ request for a modification of its cable landing licence for the Curie submarine cable system, which currently connects Los Angeles (California, US) and Valparaiso (Chile), has been granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). GU Holdings was seeking to modify the cable landing licence to include a new landing point in Panama City (Panama). The Panama Branch will connect a new landing facility in Panama City (to be owned by TI Sparkle Panama) to a stubbed branch previously installed on the main (US-Chile) trunk; it will be approximately 1,073km in length and will consist of four fibre pairs with a design capacity of 18Tbps (total design capacity of 72Tbps). Google Singapore Pte Ltd (GSPL) will own 100% of the system located in international waters, while Google Infraestructura de Panama (GIP) will wholly own the portion in Panamanian waters. GU Holdings intends to commence commercial operations over the Panama Branch in the third quarter of 2021.

Internet services in Mauritania have been ‘severely’ disrupted due to an ‘incident’ in the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable, which runs along the west coast of Africa between France and South Africa, the Regulatory Authority (Autorite de Regulation, ARE) said. TV5MONDE writes that the cable fault has been located 25km off Nouakchott.

Global Marine Group (GMG), a provider of subsea cable installation and maintenance services, has been acquired by an affiliate of private equity firm J.F. Lehman & Company (JFLCO) for a total enterprise value of USD285 million. Further, GMG disclosed that in a separate transaction, it has divested its stake in Huawei Marine Networks for USD285 million. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in November 2019 GMG agreed to sell its 49% stake in Huawei Marine to Shanghai-listed cable maker Hengtong Optic-Electric for USD140 million (thus valuing Huawei Marine at USD285 million). Under the agreement, GMG will sell 30% of Huawei Marine to Hengtong at closing and retain a 19% interest in the unit under a two-year put option agreement at the greater of the same equity value (USD285 million) or fair market value. Hengtong is also purchasing Huawei’s full 51% stake and will own 81% of the joint venture upon the closing of both sales, and 100% upon the exercise of GMG’s put option.

Verizon Communications has teamed up with Ciena and Juniper Networks to transmit 800Gbps of data on a single wavelength on Verizon’s live fibre network. The test traffic was transmitted between two Juniper Networks QFX 5220 packet platforms across two Ciena 6500 platforms powered by WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e) coherent optics. Verizon says it will begin deploying this new optical configuration in its fibre networks in the second half of 2020. In a parallel trial, cable giant Comcast has also employed Ciena’s WL5e flexible grid technology to stage a 600Gbps single wavelength pilot deployment, which carried live commercial traffic across 800km between core peering locations in Newark (New Jersey) and Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania). To test the full capabilities of the technology, Comcast also looped the signal back, verifying the successful 600Gbps pilot across 1,600km.

Infinera and Corning Incorporated have announced the successful transfer of an 800G single wavelength with Infinera’s sixth-generation Infinite Capacity Engine (ICE6) technology across 800km on Corning’s TXF optical fibre.

Gabonese government spokesperson Edgard Anicet Mboumbou-Miyakou has revealed that Phase 2 of the Gabonese portion of the Central Africa Backbone project (CAB) is 90% complete. The next phase of the programme will comprise the interconnection of the fibre network with Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. The CAB programme comprises the deployment of nearly 2,000km of optical fibre and the interconnection of 26 cities in the provinces of the Estuary, Moyen-Ogooue, Ogooue-Ivindo, Ogooue-Lolo and Haut-Ogooue to the capital Libreville. Under Phase I of the CAB project, 1,100km of fibre cabling was deployed in Gabon by China Communication Service International (CCSI), to the tune of USD33 million (co-financed by the World Bank). In February 2018 Gabon’s Ministry of Digital Economy (Ministere de l’Economie Numerique) signed a contract with KT Corporation for the deployment of two new fibre-optic networks in the northern part of the country. The 528km project – which is also part of the Backbone National Gabonais (BNG) programme – will comprise two fibre routes: a 411km network linking the city of Booue with Eboro (situated on the border with Cameroon) and Meyo Kye (Equatorial Guinea) via Koumameyong, Lalara, Mitzic, Oyem and Bitam; and a 117km branch from Oyan to Bifoun and Lamberene. In February 2020 the Gabonese government requested the third extension of the programme (to 29 June 2020) to complete the remaining components of the deployment. While the provisional acceptance of Phase 2 of the programme is expected to be completed by 15 March 2020, the authorities will need three additional months beyond that date to complete the operationalisation phase, during which the network will be tested full-scale, the World Bank disclosed. The most recent closing date extension (from 1 July 2019 to 31 March 2020) was granted on 11 April 2019 to allow enough time for the finalisation of the technical audit of the national backbone (completed in December 2019).

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