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

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22 May 2020

Eliseo Rio Jr., Undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), has revealed that the Philippines branch of the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) submarine cable project – led by technology giants Google and Facebook – will enter services by August or September 2020. Rio told the Inquirer: ‘The US government did not authorise the direct connection from Los Angeles [US] to Hong Kong [HK] … But Facebook was able to get authorisation to connect the Philippines to LA.’ TeleGeography notes that in January 2020 Google and Facebook requested a Special Temporary Authority (STA) to begin commercial operations on limited portions of the 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. Specifically, the two companies requested the approval to commence operations over the branches connecting the US with Taiwan and the US with the Philippines. In April 2020 Google, Facebook and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) were granted a STA to begin commercial operations on the US-Taiwan portion of the system.

Cincinnati Bell and Red Fiber Parent have requested the FCC’s approval for the transfer of indirect control of Hawaiian Telcom (HTI) and Hawaiian Telcom Services Company (HTSC) to Red Fiber Parent. Such authority is necessary to complete a transaction under which Red Fiber Parent will become the direct parent company of Cincinnati Bell and the indirect parent of HTI and HTSC via a subsidiary merger. HTI is authorised by the FCC to operate the 529km Hawaii Island Fiber Network (HIFN), which connects the six major islands of O’ahu, Kauai, Moloka’i, Lanai, Maui, and Hawai‘i. HTSC is authorised to operate two of the seven cable landing stations on the HIFN (at Kawaihae and Makaha), though the equipment associated with these two landing stations is owned and operated by HTI. The HIFN Cable is jointly owned with Level 3 Telecom of Hawaii. In addition, HTI owns and operates the Hawaii Inter-Island Cable System (HICS) that connects O’ahu, Kauai, Maui, and Hawai‘i. Finally, HTSC holds an interest in segments four to six of the SEA-US East subsystem, a part of a submarine cable network connecting the continental US, Indonesia, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii. As a result of the transaction, Red Fiber Parent will indirectly control the respective interests of HTI and HTSC in the HIFN, HICS and SEA-US cables.

PNG DataCo has revealed that System 1 of the Kumul Domestic Submarine Cable System has now been completed with the landing of the cable on Arawa, Bougainville, The National writes. 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 connects Jayapura to Arawa with seven branching units to Vanimo, Wewak, Lorengau, Madang, Kimbe, Kavieng and Kokopo; System 2 spans 1,874km and connects Madang to Port Moresby with three branching units to Lae, Popondetta and Alotau (completed in December 2018); and System 3 connects 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.

The Europe India Gateway (EIG) cable system, which suffered a fault between Portugal and Gibraltar in April 2020, has now reportedly been repaired. The EIG is a 15,000km international fibre-optic submarine cable system that links the UK with Gibraltar, Portugal, Monaco, France, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Oman, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India.

Lastly, internet users in Vietnam are expected to experience slow speeds until repairs to the disaster-prone Asia America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable are completed on 2 June, VnExpress writes. The system suffered a fault 107km off the beach town of Vung Tau in southern Vietnam on 14 May. The USD560 million AAG stretches more than 20,000km connecting Southeast Asia with the US, passing through Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Since its inception, the system has experienced numerous faults, the most recent one being in April 2020, when a ‘fault location’ between Repeater 1 and 2 on the branch connecting Vietnam and Hong Kong rendered the cable out of service for around three weeks.

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