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

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11 Sep 2020

Edge Cable USA (a unit of internet giant Facebook), China Mobile International Limited (CMI) and Amazon Data Services (formerly known as Vadata) have submitted an application for a licence to land and operate within the US a non-common carrier submarine cable system, called the CAP-1, connecting Grover Beach (California) and Pagudpud (the Philippines). The CAP-1 system will have six fibre pairs and consist of a single 12,000km trunk between an existing facility at Grover Beach, California and a new cable landing station at Pagudpud. It will have a design capacity of 90×200Gbps (or equivalent) per fibre pair using current technology, with an aggregate design capacity of 108Tbps. Facebook and its affiliates will hold a 41.67% participation interest (and 50.00% voting rights) in the system, while CMI will have 50.00% (42.86%) and Amazon 8.33% (7.14%). The applicants intend to commence commercial operations of the CAP-1 system by Q4 2022. Further, the trio have submitted an application for a 180-day Special Temporary Authority (STA) to construct, connect, and test those portions of the CAP-1 cable system in US territory prior to Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) grant of the cable licence. The companies highlighted that the CAP-1 system reflects the reconfiguration of the earlier Bay to Bay Express (BtoBE) cable system, the application for which had been withdrawn. The Applicants claim a timely STA award will ensure that the installation of the US-territory portion of the system – which has already been manufactured, is already in transit and is not affected by reconfiguration of the earlier system – occurs during the target weather window and with the contracted cable ship.

UK-headquartered provider of subsea cable installation and maintenance services Global Marine has been awarded the Desk Top Study (DTS) for the Singapore India Gateway (SING) cable system. The 9,000km system is aiming to connect Singapore and India, with additional branches to Thailand, Indonesia and Oman. The company said that the desk-based portion of the cable route study has now been completed and site visits will begin when COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease further. The SING submarine cable system project is developed by Datawave Networks and will feature Space Division Multiplexing (SDM) amplifier design and WSS ROADM technology.

The Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector has notified the FCC that it is planning to conduct 120-day security reviews of an application to modify the cable landing licence for the ARCOS-1 submarine cable system and an application for the continued operation of the Taino-Carib cable system (linking Puerto Rico with the US Virgin Islands). The Committee also noted that if need arises, it may conduct 90-day secondary assessments of the submissions. The application submitted by ARCOS-1 USA and A.SurNet (ASN) is seeking to modify their cable landing licence for the 8,700km ARCOS-1 submarine cable system to include a new authorised landing point in Cojimar (Cuba). The applicants plan to deploy a branch from an existing branching unit of the ARCOS-1 cable that lies approximately 56km off the coast of Cuba; the new branch is to be known as Segment 26 of the ARCOS-1 cable. According to the application, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), the incumbent telecommunications provider in Cuba, will provide the cable landing station (CLS) for Segment 26. Columbus Networks Limited (CNL), or a wholly-owned and controlled subsidiary of CNL, will act as the landing party in Cuba, with Segment 26 jointly owned by CNL and some of the ARCOS consortium members, while ETECSA will acquire an indefeasible right of use (IRU) on some capacity on Segment 26 from CNL. Construction of Segment 26 is to be completed by CNL using an international submarine cable supplier. Meanwhile, the AT&T Corporation (AT&T) requested a new cable landing licence for the Taino-Carib system in June 2018 on behalf of fellow owners of the system, including Embratel, Orange and C&W Networks, following the expiration of the prior cable landing licence. The 186km Taino-Carib system, which was certified ready for service (RFS) in December 1992, has landing points in Condado Beach and Isla Verde (Puerto Rico, US) and Magen’s Bay (US Virgin Islands).

Government plans to deploy a third undersea cable directly linking the Cayman Islands to the US ‘are unnecessary’, the Cayman News Service writes, citing Paul Kirwan, Director for Consortium Cable Management at Cable & Wireless Networks, which has overseen the operations and management of the two existing subsea cables since their inception. The executive said: ‘Even if Caymanian consumption were to increase five-fold in the next ten years, there would not be a capacity concern for the current subsea network … Should the need ever arise to repair a cable, the average time to do so is 15 to 25 days, however, most ISP routing systems are designed and scaled to automatically allow for traffic to be re-routed to the secondary cable route to facilitate repair without any noticeable impact or congestion.’ Last month, the Cayman Island’s government issued a request for information (RFI) for the proposed deployment of a new submarine cable in the country. Currently, two systems land on Cayman shores: the MAYA-1 cable linking the island to the US, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia, and the Cayman Jamaica Fibre System, which connects the Cayman Islands to Jamaica. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure (MCPI), the aim of the RFI is to gauge the market’s interest in the project, understand the key risk factors that must be considered to land a new submarine cable and understand the key success factors that need to be accounted for when landing the new cable.

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Cayman Islands, India, Indonesia, Oman, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Thailand, Virgin Islands (U.S.), Amazon Web Services, AT&T, Cable & Wireless Global, China Mobile Communications Group (previously CMCC), Claro Brasil (incl. Embratel & NET Servicos), Columbus Networks, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), Facebook, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Global Marine Systems, Orange Group