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

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4 Sep 2020

Avaroa Cable Limited (ACL) and Vodafone Cook Islands have announced the signing of a multi-year partnership for the use of the Manatua cable. The companies announced that the Aitutaki Atoll would be the first to benefit from the deal, with services on the island already transferred to the cable. The development makes Vodafone, Avaroa and the Cook Islands the first to make use of the Polynesian cable, which was completed last month. The 3,634km Manatua system comprises a two fibre pair trunk – each capable of carrying 10Tbps of data – from Apia to To’ahotu (French Polynesia), with branching units to Alofi (Niue), Aitutaki (Cook Islands, one fibre pair), Rarotonga (Cook Islands, three fibre pairs) and Vaitape (French Polynesia, one fibre pair). The system is owned and operated by Office des Postes et Telecommunications (OPT) in French Polynesia, ACL in the Cook Islands, Telecom Niue Limited (TNL) in Niue, and Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC) in Samoa.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been notified by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) that the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector will conduct initial reviews of applications for the deployment of the Hong Kong Americas (HKA) and Hong Kong-Guam (HK-G) submarine cable networks. The authority said it will provide its assessment whether the applications pose a risk to national security within 120 days. The Committee also noted that if need arises, it may conduct a 90-day secondary assessment of the application. The HKA submarine cable network, which will span more than 13,000km, will feature six fibre pairs and will span from Chung Hom Kok in Hong Kong to Hermosa Beach in California; additional connectivity options may be exercised in the future. The cable will be owned and operated by a consortium comprising China Telecom, China Unicom, Facebook, Tata Communications and Telstra, with a turnkey contract for the system awarded to Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) in January 2018. For its part, the HK-G system will consist of one segment with a length of 3,693km, comprising four fibre pairs. Each fibre pair will have a total design capacity of 12Tbps (for a total of 48Tbps) using current technology. The HK-G system will land at a new cable landing station in Guam (known as Piti 2), which will be owned and operated by Gateway Network Connection (GNC); RTI Solutions will serve as the US landing party and control the Guam landing arrangements for the HK-G system under a contract with GNC. In Hong Kong, the cable is slated to land in an existing facility owned by NTT Com Asia (with RTI HK-G acting as the landing party).

Elsewhere, the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector will extend the initial review period for an application for the deployment of the Bay to Bay Express Cable System (BtoBE) system by 21 days to 22 December 2020, after the applicants requested additional time to provide complete responses to questions posed by the authority. The 16,000km cable system, which will feature multiple pairs of optical fibre, is developed by the BtoBE consortium, composed of China Mobile International, Facebook and Amazon Web Services, with NEC Corporation contracted to deploy the system.

Pan-African telecoms company Paratus has completed a new terrestrial crossing to Mozambique by lighting up a 750km route from Maputo, through Eswatini onwards to Teraco Isando DC in Johannesburg (South Africa). Rolf Mendelsohn, Chief Technical Officer of the Paratus Group, said: ‘This week, we were able to commence with link testing and the first live traffic traversed the link. Prior to activating this shorter route, the majority of traffic to Maputo would need to go via Mtinzini on either the SEACOM or EASSy cable systems. Latency is halved from 18ms to 9ms. For this route we decided to deploy the latest Infinera coherent technology, operating at 100Gb wavelengths.’ The company revealed in August 2019 that it finalised its 4,160km Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) network connecting the West Africa Cable System (WACS) landing station in Swakopmund (Namibia) with Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) on Africa’s east coast; the route is fully operational under one single Autonomous System Number (ASN) and boasts a Round Trip Time (RTT) of 62ms.

Ciena has revealed that it was able to transmit an 800Gbps signal over 970km during a field trial with Canadian service provider Telus. The operator claims that the distance is the longest reported for an 800G field trial on a production network this year. The demonstration leveraged Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent transmission engine and targeted Telus’ link between Toronto and Montreal, which runs approximately 700km; to extend the demonstration further, Ciena and Telus added a 270km link to Quebec City.

Lastly, Angola Cables has developed a dedicated IP transit solution offering latency reductions of between 20% and 50% on international IP routings.

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