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

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17 Apr 2020

US technology giant Google is planning to deploy a new submarine cable system called Blue-Raman linking Italy, Israel and India. The system will comprise two distinct cables; the Blue portion of the cable system will link Genoa (Italy) and Israel via the Mediterranean Sea, interconnecting with the Raman cable at Aqaba (Jordan). The Raman cable will link Aqaba to Mumbai (India) via an unnamed country (presumed to be Saudi Arabia). Telecom Italia’s Sparkle subsidiary is partnering with Google on the western portion while the Raman portion is being developed with Omani telecom company Omantel. At an estimated cost of USD400 million, the Blue-Raman cable is expected to reach Israel in 2022.

GU Holdings (an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Google), Edge USA (a unit of internet giant Facebook) and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) have been granted a Special Temporary Authority (STA) to begin commercial operations on limited portions of the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) system prior to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) grant of the pending application for a licence to construct, land and operate the entire PLCN system; the STA expires on 5 October 2020. Specifically, GU Holdings was allowed to begin operating the portion of PLCN connecting the US with Taiwan: the fibre pair owned by GU Holdings and its affiliates and used to connect the US and Branching Unit 1 (Fibre Pair 2 on each of Segments S1.1.1 and S.1.1.2); the branch owned by GU Holdings’ affiliates connecting Toucheng (Taiwan) to Branching Unit 1, including the two fibre pairs on that branch (Segment S2); and common equipment necessary to operate Fibre Pair 2 between the US and Taiwan. 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 system will have a total capacity of 144Tbps. 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 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.

Huawei Marine Networks (HMN) and PEACE have announced that the manufacture and integration of the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) Cable connecting China, Europe and Africa is now in the advanced stages, with the subsequent marine installation and commercial service of the system expected to be completed in 2021 as previously announced. Phase 1 of the PEACE project (spanning 12,000km) will link France to Pakistan through a single landing point in the city of Marseille (France) using the Europe-Asia route, and to the city of Mombasa (Kenya) via a short route towards the Indian Ocean that will be expanded to South Africa via the PEACE South extension under Phase 2, reaching a total length of 15,000km. The system will deploy 200G WDM technology interfacing with HMN’s Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM) repeater, which provide capabilities to transmit 16Tbps per fibre pair.

Construction of the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Submarine Cable (SCIBSC) – which will connect to the Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA-S) submarine cable – is now complete, Sunshine Coast Daily writes. Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Council set aside AUD35 million to deploy the 550km cable, AUD15 million of which wasprovided through the Queensland government’s AUD150 million Regional Growth Fund. The new cable extension lands at Maroochydore, situated around 100km north of Brisbane. Vertiv won the AUD6.6 million tender to design and build the cable landing station in December 2018, after pledging to use local contractors for the project.

The US government has established the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (CAFPUSTSS), tasked with assisting ‘the FCC in its public interest review of national security and law enforcement concerns that may be raised by foreign participation in the United States telecommunications services sector’. The new committee is successor to Team Telecom, a working committee tasked with evaluating and maintaining the security of US telecoms infrastructure, mainly by monitoring foreign ownership of key telecom assets. The CAFPUSTSS will comprise the heads of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security, with the attorney general playing the role of chair. Applications to the Committee will be referred to the Director of National Intelligence for analysis. The executive order provides for a 120-day adjudication process, with a 90-day extension if the Committee has additional concerns and goes through a secondary review.

Internet connections in Vietnam are experiencing slowdown following a disruption on the disaster-prone Asia America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable, which links Vietnam to Hong Kong and the US. Local ISPs said the technical problem was located on the S1 branch connecting Vietnam to Hong Kong, with the fault expected to be repaired by 21 April.

Elsewhere, Telekom Malaysia has revealed that the consortium of operators which maintains the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) submarine cable has detected faults in Segment Three of the system, between Chongming (China) and Lantau (Hong Kong). The 19,000km APCN-2 system was certified ready for service (RFS) in December 2001, linking Singapore to Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.

South African National Research & Education Network (NREN) has revealed that the West African Cable System (WACS), which was damaged in late March, has now been repaired.

Meanwhile, traffic over the TAT-14 submarine cable linking Denmark to the US – which will be retired from service on 15 December 2020 – has also been fully restored. The system suffered a fault off Katwijk (Netherlands), with Orange Marine’s Pierre de Fermat vessel dispatched on 3 April to repair the damage.

Chile’s Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has awarded a contract for the deployment of fibre-optic networks in five out of the six macro zones of the ‘National Fibre-Optic (FON)’ project to WOM. The government has allocated a subsidy of CLP86 billion (USD120 million) for the programme, which will see the deployment of 10,000km of fibre infrastructure in six subdivisions. WOM won the contracts for the following regions: Arica and Parinacota Macrozone (Arica and Parinacota regions); Northern Macrozone (Antofagasta and Atacama regions); Central Northern Macrozone (Coquimbo, Valparaiso and Metropolitan regions); Central Macrozone (O’Higgins and Maule regions); and Central Southern Macrozone (Nuble and Biobio regions). A new tender for the Southern Macrozone (Araucania, Los Rios and Los Lagos regions) is expected to be launched by the end of 2020. The FON network is expected to be operational in 2022.

Russian national operator Rostelecom is planning to roll out a new fibre-optic backbone network to Hong Kong this year, RBC reports. According to Rostelecom CEO Mikhail Osyevsky, the network will link the city of Vladivostok to Hong Kong.

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