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

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27 Mar 2020

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extended a Special Temporary Authority (STA) given to GU Holdings (an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Google) and Edge USA (a unit of internet giant Facebook) to construct, connect and test the portion of the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) system in US territory during the FCC’s consideration of the applicants’ pending cable landing licence application. The current STA (awarded in September 2019) expires on 28 March 2020, though the FCC has extended it to 22 September 2020. 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 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. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, PLDC selected SubCom for the construction of the PLCN system in November 2015.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has withdrawn its request for deferral of action on the application to transfer control of PPC 1 Limited and PPC 1 (US) Inc, joint licensees for the PIPE Pacific Cable-1 (PPC-1) system, from TPG Telecom to Vodafone Hutchinson Australia (VHA). The 6,900km PPC-1 cable, which entered commercial services in October 2009, connects Sydney (Australia) to Piti (Guam) and Madang (Papua New Guinea). TPG Telecom subsequently said in a bourse filling: ‘The company has received required consents from both the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) … The consents permit the proposed change of control relating to TPG’s submarine cable between Sydney and Guam. TPG is continuing to work towards meeting the remaining regulatory conditions so as to complete the merger with VHA in mid-2020.’

Elsewhere, the DHS has advised the FCC that it has no objection to the FCC’s approval of an application filed by GU Holdings for a licence to construct, land, and operate a non-common carrier fibre-optic submarine cable system, the Dunant, linking Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez in France and Virginia Beach (US), provided that the FCC conditions its approval on GU Holding’s commitment to abide by the undertakings set forth in a Letter of Assurances (LoA) of 10 March 2020. The 6,400km trans-Atlantic cable is expected to launch commercial services by the end of 2020.

The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has approved a USD190 million loan to Nevada-based Trans Pacific Networks (TPN), which will support the deployment of what is claimed to be ‘the world’s longest telecommunications cable’. It will directly connect Singapore, Indonesia and the US, and have the capability to serve several markets in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The planned digital infrastructure will improve the availability of secure international bandwidth capacity to the Indo-Pacific region.

Societe de Gestion du Backbone National (SOGEB), which was established in December 2014 to manage Guinea’s national backbone project, has announced that the project has now been completed, with the national fibre-optic network reaching a total length of 4,352km by March 2020. The Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Digital Economy first announced plans to deploy the national fibre backbone in February 2012, with China’s Huawei securing a USD238 million contract to construct the fibre-optic network, dubbed National Backbone, that month, to be largely financed by Chinese loans. Work on laying the cables began in July 2015.

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