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

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28 Aug 2020

GU Holdings (Google) and Edge Cable Holdings (Facebook) have submitted a new application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a licence to construct, land and operate a high capacity fibre-optic submarine cable system, the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), connecting Los Angeles, California (US) with Toucheng (Taiwan) and Baler (the Philippines), excluding the so-called ‘Hong Kong Path’ and Pacific Light Data Communications (PLDC) from the revised application. The initial licence submission – which was withdrawn earlier this week – was filed in April 2017, but stalled due to security concerns regarding the branch to Hong Kong. The PLCN will be made up of the following elements: the fibre pair owned by GU Holdings and its affiliates and used to connect the US and Branching Unit 1 (Fibre Pair 2 on each of Segments S1.1.1 and S.1.1.2); the branch owned by GU Holdings’ affiliates connecting Toucheng (Taiwan) to Branching Unit 1, including the two fibre pairs on that branch (Segment S2); the fibre pair owned by Edge USA and its affiliates connecting the US to Branching Unit 2 (Fibre Pair 1 on each of Segments S1.1.1, S1.1.2, and S1.2); the branch owned by Edge USA’s affiliates connecting Baler, Philippines, to Branching Unit 2, including the two fibre pairs on that branch (Segment S3); and common equipment necessary to operate Fibre Pair 1 and Fibre Pair 2 between the US and Taiwan, and the US and the Philippines. While the system is currently built to include additional fibre pairs and landings, the applicants are not seeking authority to operate Fibre Pairs 3 through 6, which are owned by PLDC, or to operate Fibre Pair 1 and Fibre Pair 2 beyond Branching Unit 2, including Segments S1.3, S1.4, and S4 (these facilities outside the scope of this application are referred to, collectively, as the Hong Kong Path). While already built, the Hong Kong Path has been disconnected from the rest of the system, which will be operated independently and without the intervention of PLDC. The 11,806km 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). The system will comprise two fibre pairs with a design capacity of 24Tbps per fibre pair.

GU Holdings has requested special temporary authority (STA) to continue commercial operation of limited portions of the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) prior to the grant of a pending application for a licence to construct, land and operate the PLCN system connecting the US to Taiwan and the Philippines. Specifically, GU Holdings seeks 180-day STA to operate the following portions of PLCN connecting the US to Taiwan: the fibre pair owned by GU Holdings and its affiliates and used to connect the US and Branching Unit 1 (Fibre Pair 2 on each of Segments S1.1.1 and S.1.1.2); the branch owned by GU Holdings’ affiliates connecting Toucheng (Taiwan) to Branching Unit 1, including the two fibre pairs on that branch (Segment S2); and common equipment necessary to operate Fibre Pair 2 between the US and Taiwan. With this request, GU Holdings does not seek authority to commence commercial operation of Segments S1.2 or S3, or Fibre Pair 1 owned by Edge Cable Holdings and its affiliates. For clarity, the instant request for STA would not authorise any commercial traffic on PLCN to or from the Philippines, nor any operation of the system by Edge USA or its affiliates. It also would not authorise any commercial traffic on the Hong Kong Path, as that term is defined in the 2020 Application, nor any operation of the system by PLDC, which retains an interest in unused fibre pairs but is excluded as an applicant for the cable landing licence for reasons described in the 2020 Application. The instant request seeks the same STA granted to GU Holdings on 8 April this year, with an expiration date of 5 October 2020.

Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) and E-marine have announced the successful conclusion of repairs of GCX’s FALCON submarine cable, despite ‘stringent procedures and restrictions affecting permit regulations and logistics’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic. GCX issued a mobilisation request to E-marine to support the repairs of its Falcon Gulf Loop in the UAE contiguous zone and the Gulf submarine system was repaired and restored within a week of repair mobilisation in late March. Further, during the operation, it was observed that the segment had multiple faults. Therefore, E-marine was requested to transport additional kits from its depot to the Maram cable ship on the worksite; the repair operation was completed in early April and traffic on the FALCON cable was fully restored.

Data centre operator Ascenty has revealed plans to complete its connections to all international submarine cable landing stations in Brazil by the end of 2020. These include the three existing stations in Praia Grande, Praia do Futuro and Rio de Janeiro, as well as two new facilities scheduled for completion by the end of the year, which will house the 2,500km Malbec submarine cable system linking Rio de Janeiro in Brazil with Buenos Aires (Argentina), and the 10,119km EllaLink system aiming to connect Europe and Latin America; it 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.

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