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

26 Jun 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has advised the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it has no objection to the FCC’s approval of an application to land and operate within the US a private fibre-optic submarine cable network known as JUPITER. The DHS has conditioned its approval on a number of commitments outlined in a Letter of Assurances (LOA) submitted by NTT America, NTT Worldwide Telecommunications, Edge Cable Holdings (Facebook), HKT Global, PLDT, SoftBank and Vadata (Amazon) in May 2020. The JUPITER submarine cable system aims to connect Maruyama and Shima in Japan with Los Angeles in the US and Daet in the Philippines. The 14,557km JUPITER network will deliver capacity of more than 60Tbps utilising ROADM which employs wavelength selective switch (WSS) technology, providing a greater diversity of connections and enhanced reliability for customers as well as optimised connectivity to data centres on the West Coast of the US. The system will be supplied by SubCom and is scheduled to be RFS in Q3 2020.

The FCC has given its consent to the pro forma assignment of MCI Communications Corporation’s (MCI’s) approximate 7.35% interest in the MAYA-1 submarine cable to Verizon Business Global (Verizon Business) in connection with an internal restructuring involving certain direct and indirect subsidiaries of Verizon Communications. The restructuring is scheduled to occur on or around 30 June 2020. The restructuring includes the elimination of multiple companies in the Verizon ownership chain, as well as the conversion of certain companies from corporations to limited liability companies. In a separate filing, MCI International Inc (MCII) has been granted an approval of the pro forma assignment of its interests in several cable systems to MCI International LLC (MCII LLC). The cables in question are: Antillas 1 (4.08% ownership), Americas II (8.4%), Bahamas II (7.48%), TAT-14 (13.24%), Columbus III (18.04%), Taino-Carib (11.16%) and Pan American (10.98%).

Elsewhere, the FCC has granted its approval to the pro forma assignment of the cable landing licence held by America Europe Connect Licenses Limited (AECL) for the America Europe Connect-1 (AEC-1) submarine cable system to AquaComms Americas. The pro forma assignment results from the restructuring of the indirect investment by Aqua Comms Designated Activity Company (Aqua Comms DAC) in the AEC-1 system. Pursuant to a Business Contribution Agreement by and between AEC and AquaComms Americas dated 17 April 2020 (and effective retroactively from 31 March 2020), AquaComms Americas took ownership of the US territorial waters assets of AEC-1 for which AECL was previously licensed. AquaComms Americas and AECL are sister companies and thus have the same direct and indirect owners and are ultimately controlled by the Bake Trust. In parallel, pursuant to a share transfer agreement between Aqua Ventures International FZE (AVI) and Aqua Ventures dated 27 March 2020, AVI agreed to transfer its shareholding in Aqua Comms DAC to Aqua Ventures. The move results in the pro forma transfer of control in the Havfrue cable system from AVI to Aqua Ventures. The Havfrue submarine cable – to be owned and operated by a consortium comprising AquaComms, Facebook, Bulk Infrastructure and Google – will traverse the North Atlantic to connect mainland Northern Europe to the US. The system is comprised of a trunk cable connecting New Jersey (US) to Blaabjerg in the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark with branches landing in County Mayo (Ireland) and Kristiansand (Norway). The 7,200km cable system will be optimised for coherent transmission and will offer a cross-sectional cable capacity of 108Tbps, scalable to higher capacities utilising future generation Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE) technology.

Further, Cincinnati Bell and Red Fiber Parent have been given the green light to transfer the indirect control of Hawaiian Telcom (HTI) and Hawaiian Telcom Services Company (HTSC) to Red Fiber Parent in order 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.

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