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

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15 May 2020

China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) have announced that they will partner to build the 37,000km 2Africa submarine cable which will interconnect Europe (via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and 16 countries in Africa (via 21 landings). The 2Africa system is expected to go live in 2023/2024, delivering a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system. The parties have appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to build the cable in a fully funded project; the 2Africa cable will feature ASN’s SDM1 technology, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs. The 2Africa parties and Airtel have also signed an agreement with Telecom Egypt to provide a new crossing linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean – this includes new cable landing stations and deployment of next-generation fibre on two new, diverse terrestrial routes parallel to the Suez Canal from Ras Ghareb to Port Said, and a new submarine link that will provide a third path between Ras Ghareb and Suez.

Seaborn Networks and Jacksonville’s Network Access Point (JaxNAP) have announced that JaxNAP will host Seaborn as the endpoint for the AMX-1 submarine cable system between Jacksonville (Florida) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, AMX-1 landed in Cancun (Mexico) in December 2013 and was put into service shortly after. The 17,800km submarine cable was built by Alcatel-Lucent (now part of Nokia), with a design capacity of 100G. It links North and Central America to the southern tip of South America, with connection points in Miami and Jacksonville (US), Barranquilla and Cartagena (Colombia), Fortaleza, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic), Cancun (Mexico), San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Puerto Barrios (Guatemala).

Regional intelligent network provider Arc – a joint venture launched by UAE-based Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), which operates under the brand du, and Bahrain’s Batelco – has been appointed by Emergent Telecommunications as the lead consultant for the Orient Express submarine fibre-optic cable between Pakistan and the UAE. Arc will provide consultancy services related to network configuration, tendering, supply contract negotiation and documentation, and overall project management. The 1,300km Orient Express cable system will stretch between Karachi and Gwadar in Pakistan, and Kalba in the UAE. The system is expected to be ready for service (RFS) in 2020.

China Telecom Global (CTG) has selected multinational ICT operator Angola Cables as their preferred carrier to bolster their long-haul links between Asia, Africa and Latin America (LatAm). Through joint co-operation, the two companies will launch an express transmission route to connect three BRICS countries (China, South Africa and Brazil) via the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS). CTG will thus extend its global reach by accessing Angola Cables’ network comprising the WACS, SACS and Monet submarine cable systems, including their PoPs and data centres in Africa and LatAm. CTG and Angola Cables have also agreed to set up a network interconnection in South Africa, ‘significantly improving’ transmission capacity and latency between China, South Africa, Angola and Brazil.

Telecom Italia’s international wholesale unit TI Sparkle has boosted its Pacific routes with a new fibre pair on the Curie submarine cable system, which currently connects Los Angeles (California, US) and Valparaiso (Chile). Sparkle’s new fibre pair on the Curie system will be fully integrated with Sparkle’s global backbone, increasing redundancy and offering a fourth diversified route to directly connect South and North America, complementing its 2017 addition of the Seabras-1 cable in the Atlantic. The 10,500km Google-owned subsea cable, which is equipped with four 18Tbps fibre-optic pairs, will deliver 72Tbps of bandwidth capacity to South America. In March 2020 Google applied for a modification of its 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).

PNG DataCo has revealed that the Kumul Domestic Submarine Cable System has landed in Kokopo, East New Britain. The National cited PNG DataCo CEO Paul Komboi as saying that the ‘province would become a stakeholder to a massive infrastructure that is expected to transform telecommunication services in the country and open up opportunities for economic growth and development benefits including tourism’. The project, part-funded by the Chinese Exim Bank (which provided 85% preferential buyers credit to the PNG government), is being rolled out by Huawei in preparation for the Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS). 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. The project should be completed and transferred to PNG by mid-2020.

Avaroa Cable Ltd (ACL) and Vodafone Cook Islands have revealed that the deployment of the Manatua cable is progressing on track, with the system scheduled to be certified RFS next month as planned. According to ACL, most of the cable is nearing the end of the commissioning and testing phase, with long-term stability testing – one of the final checks – already underway. Vodafone CI meanwhile confirmed that it has now connected to both of ACL’s cable landing stations in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, with optical fibre linking the cable stations to Vodafone’s own network facilities ready to go live. 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).

Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, the international wholesale unit of Deutsche Telekom, has switched on what it claims is ‘the first European 800G network’ connecting its data centres in Vienna (Austria), in cooperation with Ciena. The technology innovation, which is based on higher spectrum efficiency, will allow Deutsche Telekom to transport eight 100G of data traffic in less than 100GHz of spectrum and is optimised for high-capacity 100GE and 400GE customer interface connectivity. Deutsche Telekom now intends to implement Ciena’s WL5e with its 6500 and Waveserver 5 platforms, managed by Ciena’s Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller.

Elsewhere, Telia Carrier is deploying an integrated C&L-Band photonic line system from Ciena, with the network upgrade expected to double the usable signal spectrum to support increasing end-user demands and deliver reliable connectivity to US web-scale and enterprise customers. Telia Carrier is deploying Ciena’s 6500 Reconfigurable Line System (RLS) – which integrates both C&L-Band functions in a compact footprint and delivers more bandwidth to enable seamless on-demand growth for Telia Carrier customers. Telia Carrier will also leverage Ciena’s Waveserver transponders, powered by WaveLogic Ai and WaveLogic 5 Extreme as well as Ciena’s Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller.

Lastly, Hawaiian Telcom Services Company (HTSC) has notified the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of a pro forma assignment of the Kawaihae and Makaha cable landing stations hosting the Hawaii Island Fiber Network (HIFN) submarine cable to Hawaiian Telcom Inc (HTI). Both HTI and HTSC are direct subsidiaries of Hawaiian Telecom Communications, which, in turn is an indirect subsidiary of Cincinnati Bell.

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