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

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13 Mar 2020

Telkom Kenya has announced that the Djibouti Africa Regional Express 1 (DARE1) submarine cable has landed in Mombasa (Kenya). The new system, which is scheduled to enter commercial operations in June 2020, will land in Djibouti (Djibouti), Bosaso (Somalia), Mogadishu (Somalia) and Mombasa. 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. The DARE1 system – owned by Djibouti Telecom, Somtel and Telkom Kenya – is being deployed by SubCom.

SUB.CO has revealed that the Oman Australia Cable (OAC) project aiming to link Muscat (Oman) to Perth (Australia) has reached contract in force (CIF) status, with the system expected to be completed in December 2021. The OAC cable system will comprise three fibre pairs, with an option to upgrade to four fibre pairs based on demand. The system will span approximately 9,700km, with branching units designed to potentially extend the system into Salalah (Oman) and Djibouti in the future. Bevan Slattery, founder of SUB.CO, said: ‘I am delighted that OAC is now CIF and importantly we have been able to secure the required manufacturing and marine installation assets with SubCom to allow for a targeted 2021 completion date. With a series of other major submarine cable projects looking to enter CIF status in the next quarter, this is a tremendous coup for the project and reduces project implementation risks and funding costs significantly.’

Congolese telecoms watchdog the Regulatory Authority of Post and Telecommunications (Autorite de Regulation des Postes et Telecom, ARPTC) has issued a licence to Liquid Telecom for the construction of a second submarine cable landing station. The move is expected to end the Congolese Society of Post and Telecommunication’s (Societe Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications, SCPT’s) monopoly on the sector and provide redundancy after damage to the West Africa Cable System (WACS) – the only submarine cable that currently lands in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – earlier this year caused a nationwide internet slowdown. Liquid is expected to connect the DRC to Google’s Equiano cable, which will initially link Lisbon (Portugal) to Cape Town in South Africa, with planned branches to other African countries. The new system, to be laid by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), is scheduled to enter operations by 2021. Liquid Telecom currently operates a terrestrial fibre backbone network in the DRC, and announced in November 2019 that it had completed construction of the first overland fibre link connecting East and West Africa, spanning from Muanda on the west coast of the DRC to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, via Zambia.

A new incident has been reported on the SAT3/WASC submarine system, almost three weeks after the last incident in January was resolved in mid-February, Agence Ecofin writes. According to Angola Telecom, the new incident occurred on 9 March 2020 between the Gabonese capital Libreville and the Angolan city of Cacuaco.

The upcoming maintenance operations on the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable, planned for the period from 21 March 2020 to 26 March 2020, are expected to affect a number of African countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe and Ghana. The 17,000km cable, which runs along the west coast of Africa between France and South Africa, entered commercial services in December 2012.

Zayo Group Holdings has announced the completion of its acquisition by affiliates of Digital Colony Partners and the EQT Infrastructure IV fund. The close marks the consummation of the USD14.3 billion transaction. Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was approved by Zayo’s stockholders at a special meeting held on 26 July 2019, Zayo stockholders will receive USD35 in cash per share of Zayo common stock. As a result of the transaction completion, Zayo is now a privately held company and its common stock has ceased trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Zayo’s 133,000-mile network in North America and Europe includes extensive metro connectivity. The company owns and operates a Tier 1 IP backbone and 44 carrier-neutral data centres.

Telefonica is reportedly planning to spin off its submarine cable business from its infrastructure subsidiary Telxius, El Economista writes. The company is in the process of discussing the move with advisers and investors, including 40% shareholder KKR and Pontegadea, a holding company which owns a 10% stake. According to unnamed sources, separating the submarine cable assets from the rest of the Telxius infrastructure would allow Telxius to focus solely on mobile tower infrastructure; the cable business currently contributes around 60% of Telxius’ revenues and a spin-off could enable Telefonica and KKR to divest the submarine infrastructure to potential stakeholders. In September 2019 the Spanish operator said it was planning to monetise its infrastructure assets and in November it announced the creation of a new unit called Telefonica Infra to hold the group’s mobile towers and other telecoms infrastructure vehicles, with its 50.01% stake in Telxius as the unit’s main asset.

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Angola, Australia, Congo, Dem. Rep., Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Oman, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Angola Telecom (AT), Autorite de Regulation des Postes et Telecom (ARPTC), Djibouti Telecom, Liquid Intelligent Technologies (LIT), Societe Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications (SCPT), Somtel International, SubCom, Telefonica, Telkom Kenya, Telxius, Zayo Group

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