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

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2 Oct 2020

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, with the system certified ready for service (RFS). The project, which is a collaboration between the government of Montserrat with Southern Caribbean Fiber (SCF) – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Digicel Group – and its subsidiary SCF Montserrat, was funded by the UK Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG). The new 25km branching unit is located between Antigua and Guadeloupe on Segment 11 of the Southern Caribbean Fiber system. 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.

Finnish company Cinia, which is currently developing the Arctic Connect submarine cable project in collaboration with MegaFon, has revealed that new partners from Japan, Norway and Finland have joined the project. The new Japanese investors are led by multi-national trading and investment company Sojitz Corporation and also include Atago Corporation, Crypton Future Media, Hokkaido Electric Power, Optage and Sakura Internet. The Norwegian partnership consists of Bredbandsfylket Arctic Link, Ishavslink and Sor-Varanger Utvikling, while the Finnish stakeholders are C-Fiber Hanko, Pietarsaaren Seudun Puhelin, Lapit, Napapiirin Energia ja Vesi and Rovaniemen Kehitys. The planned network infrastructure will connect Europe, coastal regions of Russia, Japan and North America. The new 10,000km Arctic cable is aiming to offer the ‘lowest-latency sea route between Europe and northern Asia’, with Cinia’s CEO Ari-Jussi Knaapila saying: ‘The Arctic cable will contribute to the socio-economic development of the Arctic areas. The cable is an environmentally sustainable way to boost global, regional and local economy. At the same time, the cable will connect three continents, covering approximately 85% of the world’s population.’ The planned cable is currently subject to a feasibility study, with construction work of the system scheduled to run from 2022 until 2023.

Geoffrey Starks, a member of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has called for a new scrutiny of undersea cables, calling for the FCC to ensure ‘that adversary countries and other hostile actors can’t tamper with, block, or intercept the communications they carry’. The official was cited as saying: ‘We must take a closer look at cables with landing locations in adversary countries … This includes the four existing submarine cables connecting the US and China, most of which are partially owned by Chinese state-owned companies.’

Telecommunications company PLDT has revealed that the emergency maintenance activities scheduled to be performed on the Asian American Gateway (AAG) system from 25 September to 30 September were successfully completed one day ahead of schedule. The USD560 million AAG stretches more than 20,000km connecting Southeast Asia with the US, passing through Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Since its inception, the system has experienced numerous faults, the most recent one being in May 2020, when a fault 107km off the beach town of Vung Tau in southern Vietnam rendered the cable out of service until June 2020.

Australian service provider Telstra, in cooperation with technology partners Ericsson and Ciena, has announced the successful commercial launch of wavelength services based on 400G technology, thus increasing its optical transmission network capacity by 400% whilst reducing power consumption, footprint and time to market for customers. Further, the trio also trialled transmitting 700G per wavelength between Melbourne and Sydney, at a distance greater than 1,000km.

Lastly, Huawei is planning to launch a new cloud data centre in Chile by the end of this year, boosting its cloud and AI platform in South America. The new facility will be located in the country’s capital Santiago, where Huawei’s first cloud data centre in the country (launched in 2019) is also housed.

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