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

19 Jun 2020

Team Telecom, which is formally known as the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector, has opposed the activation of a submarine cable branch linking the US and Hong Kong over security concerns. The 12,971km Pacific Light Cable Network (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). 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 submarine cable 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 commercially operate the US-Taiwan portion of the system for six months. Team Telecom further recommended that the FCC grant the portions of PLCN’s application seeking to connect the US, Taiwan and the Philippines, which do not have any People’s Republic of China (PRC) based ownership and are separately owned and controlled by subsidiaries of Google and Facebook, on the condition that the companies’ subsidiaries enter into mitigation agreements for those respective connections.

Office des Postes et Telecommunications de Nouvelle-Caledonie (OPT-NC) has selected the proposal of Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), in partnership with Orange Marine and Axians, to build and deploy its second submarine cable. Orange Marine will be responsible for the deep-sea survey and submarine cable installation, while Axians will be in charge of environmental studies, shallow water surveys, shore-end to the eight landing stations, as well as civil works for all stations along with land cable pulling. The new system will comprise two parts – the international section of the system (dubbed Gondwana-2) will be deployed between New Caledonia and Fiji, while a domestic cable called Picot-2 will link Lifou, Mare, Yate, Iles des Pins and Grande Terre. OPT-NC launched the tender process for the new international cable in March 2019, in a bid to provide additional network capacity and resilience to the existing Gondwana-1 cable system, which connects Noumea in New Caledonia to Sydney (Australia), and extend the domestic Picot-1 system. The five-year contract with ASN is worth XPF4.47 billion (USD4.3 million) and the work is due for completion in early 2022. The proposed one-fibre pair cable will link Nouville (Noumea) in New Caledonia to Fiji International Telecommunications’ (FINTEL’s) landing station in Suva (Fiji) with a proposed branch to Vanuatu, providing total capacity of 200Gbps.

The Teliri cable ship, owned by Orange Group’s Italian subsidiary Elettra, has arrived in Port Bay (Reunion) in order to connect the French overseas territory to the Melting Pot Indianoceanic Submarine System (METISS). The system landed on Fort Dauphin (Madagascar) on 2 June and Mauritius on 14 June, with deployment works set to continue until August. The construction of the cable, including repeaters and connection units, was carried out by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN). The 3,200km fibre-optic cable will connect South Africa, Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius, delivering 24Tbps of design capacity. The project, which was initiated by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), will benefit from the financial backing of the EU and the French Development Agency (Afd). The project is being developed by a number of telecoms operators – Telma and Blueline of Madagascar, Emtel and CEB FiberNET of Mauritius, Zeop and SFR of Reunion, and Canal+ Telecom of France.

New Zealand-based wholesale fixed line provider Chorus has commenced construction works on a 6km submarine fibre-optic cable to Waiheke Island, the second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. Once complete, the new cable comprising 144 individual fibre strands will cross from Maraetai Beach to Woodside Bay on Waiheke Island. Work to lay the cable will take approximately ten days. To carry out the deployment, Chorus has partnered with network construction firm Visionstream and Wellington-based marine service provider Seaworks.

Hawaiki has gone live with an upgrade to its Oregon point of interconnection (PoI) on the US West Coast, deploying Ciena’s GeoMesh submarine network solution leveraging Waveserver Ai. Hawaiki chief executive officer, Remi Galasso said: ‘This route previously went from Kapolei (Hawaii) to Pacific City (Oregon) where an optical-electrical-optical regeneration was required to allow protection on the terrestrial link to Hillsboro … We upgraded this part of our network with the deployment of a multi-span trunk switching solution from Ciena, enabling optical regeneration only. This allows the link to be extended right into the Hillsboro PoP with optical protection while eliminating the need for costly regeneration and reducing latency in our cable landing station.’ The 15,00km Hawaiki system – which entered into service in July 2018 – has five segments and currently lands in five locations: Sydney, Australia; Mangawhai Heads, New Zealand; Tafuna, American Samoa; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; and Pacific City, Oregon (US).

Rostelecom has launched a project to construct a new fibre-optic line connecting the country’s western and eastern borders called Transit Europe-Asia NEXT (TEA NEXT). The programme will be developed by Rostelecom’s newly founded company Atlas, supported by financial and strategic partners (including a Russian bank and a number of international investors and communications operators), with a total investment of USD500 million within several years. The mainline will pass along the shortest route from West to East with stations in Saint Petersburg, Tver (Rostelecom’s data centre in Udomlya), Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. The first level of the infrastructure – 96 dark fibre lines with platforms for own active DWDM equipment – will be provided to clients for long-term use of up to 20-25 years.

Infinera and Windstream have announced the completion of a live network trial that successfully achieved 800G single-wavelength transmission over 730km across Windstream’s long-haul network between San Diego and Phoenix. In addition, Windstream and Infinera set another industry record by looping back the signal to achieve a 700G transmission over 1,460km. The trial was performed using Infinera’s fifth-generation coherent optical technology, ICE6 (Infinite Capacity Engine), equipped in a Groove (GX) Series platform over industry-standard G.652-compliant SMF-28 fibre, with both signal rates achieving a performance level that met Windstream’s production network deployment standards.

Lastly, Saudi Telecom Company (stc) has used Nokia’s PSE-3 chipset with Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS) technology to conduct what it claims is ‘the Middle East and Africa’s first 200G long-haul transmission and 300G regional reach field trial’. The PSE-3 is capable of helping stc increase bandwidth efficiency on its long-haul network by exploiting 200G channels between Riyadh and Jeddah via diverse routes. Similarly, 300G channels were demonstrated on a regional network between Khobar and Riyadh.

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