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

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3 Jul 2020

KT Submarine, the cable construction subsidiary of South Korean telecoms company KT Corp, has revealed that it has secured a contract worth KRW9 billion (USD7.9 million) to build a portion of the JUPITER cable system for a SubCom-led consortium. Under the contract, KT Submarine will deploy a section of the cable system between Japan and the Philippines. The line will be approximately 5,600km long, with construction scheduled to start in the third quarter of 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 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 marine installation of the Montserrat Submarine Fibre Optic Cable has commenced, following the arrival of the IT Intrepid vessel from Curacao, MENAFN writes. The project is aiming to reconnect the British overseas territory of Montserrat – which is part of the Lesser Antilles chain – to Antigua and Guadeloupe. The island has been without international fibre-optic connectivity since the mid-1990s, when the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano led to the decommissioning of the island’s only undersea cable connection. The IT Intrepid ship will locate and retrieve ‘Segment 11’ of the Southern Caribbean Fiber system (between Guadeloupe and Antigua) where the new Branching Unit (BU) will be inserted. Denzil West, Head of the Department for Information Technology and e-Government Services (DITES) and project manager for the Montserrat Submarine Fibre Optic Cable project, added: ‘The ship will then travel away from the beach laying the cable out to the BU in the ocean, north-east of Montserrat. After the cable is connected to the BU, the IT Intrepid will return to Bunkum Bay on 4 July to perform tests that verify the connection from Montserrat to Guadeloupe and Montserrat to Antigua.’ Although the new submarine connections should be completed and tested by 5 July, the cable will not be ready for service (RFS) until the end of August 2020, as the construction of the terrestrial cable and the cable landing station are currently ongoing (slated for completion by mid-August 2020).

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has advised the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it has no objections to the commission approving an application for a cable landing licence for the Columbus II cable system filed by AT&T in March 2019 to allow the continued operation of the domestic submarine cable for an additional 25-year term (following the expiration of the existing cable landing licence in October 2019). The DHS conditioned its approval on the commitment that AT&T abides to the undertakings set forth in a Letter of Assurances (LOA) of 22 June 2020. The 2,070km Columbus II system links West Palm Beach (Florida) and Magens Bay (St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands) providing 600Gbps of bandwidth capacity (design capacity of 800Gbps). The system entered operations in October 1994, while its international segments were retired in 2009. AT&T was previously granted a Special Temporary Authority (STA) to operate the system until 10 August 2020, while the FCC considered the application for a new cable landing.

Internet services in Vietnam are now back to normal, as repairs of two faults on the Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG) undersea cable were completed on 27 June, VN Express writes. The system suffered a rupture at Section S9 linking Vietnam and Singapore in late April, while a second fault – at Section S1.7 – was reported on 23 May. The 10,400km system boasts a capacity of 54Tbps and connects eight countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region.

South Korean network operator SK Telink is planning to upgrade its submarine network connections between Seoul (South Korea), Hong Kong and Los Angeles (US) with equipment from Ciena. SK Telink will leverage elements of Ciena’s Adaptive IP portfolio to create a converged packet network. The network operator will deploy Ciena’s 6500 Packet Transport System (PTS) as well as Manage, Control and Plan domain controller to create a high-speed packet transport infrastructure with automated control of lifecycle operations.

EllaLink is launching the EllaLink GeoLab which aims to provide the scientific community with data on seabed conditions, claiming that the initiative is ‘the first dedicated facility of its kind as part of a telecoms submarine cable’. The EllaLink GeoLab infrastructure will be provided by EllaLink in cooperation with EMACOM. Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) Technology will be used on a dedicated fibre in the Madeira Branch of the EllaLink System. It will collect data along the route which will be optically transmitted back to the shore, thus making EllaLink ‘the first system to integrate SMART cable concepts’. When completed in 2021, the 10,119km-long system – deployed by Nokia’s Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) unit – will land at Sines in Portugal and at Praia Grande near Sao Paolo (Brazil), with branches to Fortaleza (Brazil), the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira and the island nation of Cape Verde.

Lastly, the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) has completed the construction of Phase Four of Uganda’s National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and e-Government Infrastructure (NBI/EGI) Project, which is funded by the World Bank. Phase Four – launched in May 2019 – extended the backbone network by 842km, covering districts of Pakwach, Nebbi, Arua, Yumbe, Koboko, Adjumani, Katakwi and the border points of Oraba, Vurra and Mpondwe, providing new international connections to the neighbouring countries of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Under the first phase of the NBI project, 198km of fibre was deployed between the capital Kampala, Mukono, Jinja, Bombo and Entebbe, while the second phase saw 1,400km rolled out between Busia, Tororo, Mbale, Malaba, Kumi, Soroti, Lira, Gulu, Elegu, Masindi, Kyenjojo, Fort Portal, Kasese, Bushenyi and Mbarara. The third phase, completed in December 2016, comprised the routes Masindi-Hoima-Kyenjojo, Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Katuna (on the border with Botswana) and Masaka-Mtukula (on the border with Tanzania). In addition, NITA-U is planning to deploy a further 2,000km of proposed routes under the fifth phase of the NBI/EGI programme, described as being ‘under funding review’. In February 2020, the ICT ministry reportedly secured USD150 million from the Export-Import Bank of China to implement Phase Five of the NBI.

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Hong Kong, Japan, Montserrat, Philippines, South Korea, Uganda, United States, Vietnam, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), AT&T (old), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), KT Corp, KT Submarine Co, National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U), Nokia Networks (formerly NSN), SK Telink (7Mobile), SubCom