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

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7 Aug 2020

Offshore surveyor Fugro has begun a pre-installation and route engineering survey project for a new repeater-based cable system between Stavanger (Norway) and Newcastle (UK), dubbed NO-UK. Fugro’s project will run for approximately 70 days and will comprise a geophysical survey and shallow geotechnical testing with environmental sampling, analysis and testing, to generate a thorough understanding of the planned route. The new 700km system – featuring eight cable pairs with a capacity of up to 216Tbps – is expected to be ready for service (RFS) by the end of 2021. It will be part of a larger European fibre network established by Altibox Carrier, called Euroconnect-1, that will ensure robust and state-of-the-art digital infrastructure. The NO-UK consortium comprises Altibox Carrier, Haugaland Kraft, BKK, Ryfylke IKS, Green Mountain, Polysys and Hatteland Group.

The Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) has announced that Edge Cable Holdings (Facebook) has notified the agency of drilling equipment that was left behind during deployment works for the JUPITER submarine cable project near Tierra Del Mar (located in Tillamook County, Oregon, US). Project representatives informed DSL that on 28 April this year a drill pipe snapped while being replaced, with approximately 335m of drill pipe, a drill tip, two tools for drill steering and tracking and approximately 24,600 litres of drilling fluid abandoned in the ocean. The DSL revealed that Edge Cable did not notify them of the abandoned equipment until 17 June, thus ‘eliminating any potential options for recovery of the equipment’. The Oregon Coast Alliance (ORCA) and Surfrider Foundation have jointly asked the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) and DSL to withdraw Edge Cable’s state permits and easement. 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 14,000km JUPITER network – to be supplied by TE SubCom – 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. Edge Cable is reportedly now hoping to continue the project deployment in January 2021.

Internet service has temporarily been restored to South and Central Somalia, after the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) consortium opted to remotely switch on the branching unit (BU) by re-configuring the power set-up temporarily. In a report to the Ministry of Post, Telecom and Technology (MPTT), Dalkom Somalia – a local affiliate of the EASSy Consortium – revealed that the BU switch to restore traffic was performed as the cable fault was located at sea, 27km from Mogadishu. An e-marine repair vessel is currently mobilised to undertake the repair of Segment 10 of the EASSy system. The 10,500km EASSy system runs along the East African coast, linking Port Sudan (Sudan) to Mtunzini in South Africa. It features a two-fibre pair configuration with a design capacity of more than 10Tbps.

BP Exploration & Production (BP) and Tampnet have requested the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) approval to assign the submarine cable landing licence held by BP for a Gulf of Mexico fibre-optic network to Tampnet, pursuant to a Purchase and Sale Agreement between the two sides. BP currently owns the Gulf Fiber Network, an undersea, non-common carrier fibre-optic cable linking Freeport (Texas) to Pascagoula (Mississippi). The system features two fibre pairs, each with a design capacity of 320Gbps. Under the proposed transaction, Tampnet will acquire 100% of the Gulf Fiber Network; the applicants have requested that the FCC issue an order approving the assignment of the cable landing licence to Tampnet before 31 October 2020, in order to finalise the transaction in a timely fashion.

AT&T Corporation (AT&T) has amended an application to the FCC for a new cable landing licence for the Taino-Carib cable system (linking Puerto Rico with the US Virgin Islands) (filed in June 2018). The application highlights recent changes in the ownership of the system, with MCI International being removed from the ownership chain due to an internal restructuring of Verizon subsidiaries and Telefonica Larga Distancia De Puerto Rico withdrawing from the Taino-Carib consortium. Following the amendments, the current ownership in the cable is listed as follows: Antelecom (3.86%), AT&T (56.95%), C&W Barbados (0.82%), C&W BVI (14.17%), Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela (0.26%), Claro (0.15%), Compania Dominicana de Telefonos (2.42%), Global Interlink (1.02%), MCI International LLC (10.08%), Prepa Networks (1.71%), Servicio Di Telecomunicacion Di Aruba (1.33%), Sprint (6.28%), Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (0.91%) and Verizon Hawaii (0.04%). The 186km Taino-Carib system, which was certified RFS in December 1992, has landing points in Condado Beach and Isla Verde (Puerto Rico, US) and Magen’s Bay (US Virgin Islands).

The US government has launched the Clean Network programme, in order to ‘protect America’s critical telecommunications and technology infrastructure’. The programme is aiming to ensure, among other things, that ‘untrusted People’s Republic of China (PRC) carriers are not connected with US telecommunications networks’ as ‘such companies pose a danger to US national security and should not provide international telecommunications services to and from the United States’, as part of the ‘Clean Carrier’ line of effort. The ‘Clean Cable’ line of effort, meanwhile, is aimed at ensuring that ‘the undersea cables connecting [the US] to the global internet are not subverted for intelligence gathering by the PRC at hyper scale.’ The US government pledged to work with foreign partners to ensure that undersea cables around the world ‘aren’t similarly subject to compromise’.

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Japan, Norway, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Somalia, United Kingdom, Virgin Islands (U.S.), Altibox (incl. Lyse Tele), AT&T, Dalkom Somalia, Facebook, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ministry of Communication and Technology (MoCT), Sprint Corporation (became part of T-Mobile US), SubCom, Verizon Communications