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

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10 Jul 2020

RTI Connectivity (RTI) and NEC Corporation have announced the successful completion of the Japan-Guam-Australia North (JGA-N) cable system between Minamiboso (Japan) and Piti (Guam). The 2,600km system – solely owned by RTI – has an initial design capacity of 24Tbps, which is expected to be expanded significantly by adopting a higher optical signal modulation format using the latest available NEC transponders. From its landing site at Minamiboso, the system will be extended by terrestrial dark fibres to two neutral data centres in Tokyo, providing capacity customers with access to RTI’s network. In Guam, the JGA-N will land at the Gateway Network Connections (GNC) facility, Guam’s first combined neutral cable landing station and data centre, where it interconnects with the Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA-S) system (in service since March 2020).

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) have advised the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that they have no objections to the commission approving an application filed by Pacific Carriage Limited (PCL) and Southern Cross Cables Limited to land and operate within the US a private fibre-optic submarine cable network connecting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tokelau, Kiribati and California (US) known as the Southern Cross NEXT. The DHS/DoD conditioned their approval on the commitment that the two applicants abide to the undertakings set forth in a Letter of Assurances (LOA) of 3 July 2020. The new Southern Cross NEXT cable is expected to be certified as ready for service (RFS) in January 2022, bringing 72Tbps of total design capacity between Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand) and the US. The US-Australia Trunk will have a length of 13,483km and land at existing landing points in Sydney (Australia) and Hermosa Beach (California). The Takapuna Branch will connect a branching unit on the main trunk to Takapuna (New Zealand); it will have a length of 1,301km and will comprise two fibre pairs, one of which is an express pair connecting Takapuna directly to Hermosa Beach and Sydney. The 309km Suva Branch will land at an existing facility in Suva (Fiji) and will consist of one fibre pair, to be owned and operated by Fiji International Telecommunications. The Savu Savu Branch (comprising one fibre pair and owned by the Fiji government) will stretch 305km to a newly-established landing point in Savu Savu (Fiji). The Apia Branch will link the main trunk with Apia (Samoa) via one fibre pair with a length of 310km and will be owned by the Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC). The Nukunonu Branch (owned by the Telecommunication Tokelau Corporation) will also comprise one fibre pair and will stretch 53km to a newly built landing station in Nukunonu (Tokelau). The 377km Kiritimati Branch, owned by Bwebwerikinet Limited, will connect the main trunk to a new landing facility in Tabwakea, Kiritimati (Kiribati) and will comprise one fibre pair.

Elsewhere, PCL has requested that the FCC modify the cable landing licence for the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) in order to reflect recently negotiated security mitigation arrangements. Effective 3 July 2020, PCL and its affiliate Pacific Carriage Limited Inc (PCLI) executed a LOA for the benefit of the DHS and the DoD. The LOA commitments cover both the existing SCCN and the Southern Cross NEXT systems. To that end, PCL requests that the FCC modify the SCCN cable landing licence to require compliance with the LOA.

NTT America, NTT Worldwide Telecommunications, Edge Cable Holdings (Facebook), HKT Global, PLDT, SoftBank and Vadata (Amazon) have submitted an update regarding their application to land and operate within the US a private fibre-optic submarine cable network known as JUPITER. The applicants confirm that Edge USA and its affiliates have decided to equip a second fibre pair on the system. Consequently, the voting and participation ownership of the system is as follows: NTT WT 10% (US territorial waters, International waters, Japanese territorial waters), Edge USA 40% (US), Edge Network Services 40% (International), Edge Network Services (Japan Branch) 40% (Japan), PCCW Global 10% (US, International, Japan), PLDT 20% (US, International, Japan), SoftBank 10% (US, International, Japan) and Vadata 10% (US, International, Japan). 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.

Marine installation works of the Montserrat Submarine Fibre Optic Cable linking the British overseas territory of Montserrat – which is part of the Lesser Antilles chain – to Antigua and Guadeloupe has now been completed. 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, said: ‘The CS IT Intrepid successfully completed the laying of the cable and integration of the Branching Unit [located between Antigua and Guadeloupe on Segment 11 of the Southern Caribbean Fiber system], which started on 29 June, and finished on 2 July. The cable ship returned to Bunkum Bay on 3 July and completed the end-to-end testing of the submarine cable system to certify connectivity from the beach manhole to Antigua and to Guadeloupe.’ Although the new submarine connections are now completed and tested, the cable will not be 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). TeleGeography notes that Montserrat 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.

India’s National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has granted its approval to a project aiming to link Chennai and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (A&N Islands) via a 2,246km submarine cable at a cost of INR712.8 million (USD10.2 million), the Economic Times writes. The new cable – comprising four fibre pairs with capacity of 6.4Tbps each – will initially link Chennai to Port Blair and subsequently connect the islands of Havelock, Little Andaman (Hutbay), Car Nicobar, Kamorta, the Great Nicobar Islands, Long Island and Rangat. The cable will carry 100Gbps optical waves. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, Indian telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) handed NEC Technologies India (NECTI) the contract to design, engineer, supply, install, test and implement the optical submarine cable system in July 2018. NEC Corporation, the parent company of NECTI, will manufacture the optical submarine cable and provide technical assistance during the turnkey implementation. An Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Union Environment Ministry approved a proposal to grant a Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for the project in January 2019.

Lastly, the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York has confirmed the joint Plan of Reorganisation of Seabras 1 USA and Seabras 1 Bermuda, with the two companies subsequently emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In connection with the restructuring, the Bankruptcy Court approved a transaction and settlement whereby (among other actions) Partners Group Seabras acquired all of the shares of Seaborn Management, which provides management services for the operation of the Seabras-1 system at the ultimate direction of Partners Group.

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