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

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9 Oct 2020

The Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector has notified the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it is planning to conduct a 120-day security review of an application 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 – developed by Edge Cable USA (a unit of internet giant Facebook), China Mobile International Limited (CMI) and Amazon Data Services (formerly known as Vadata) – 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. When it enters commercial operations (scheduled for Q4 2022), the cable 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%). In September 2020 the applicants were granted a 180-day Special Temporary Authority (STA) to construct, connect, and test the system; the STA expires on 31 March 2021.

The Havhingsten/CeltixConnect-2 (CC-2) submarine fibre-optic cable system has been granted marine licences, with the installation of the offshore section of the cable expected to commence in the Irish Sea today (9 October 2020), KIS-ORCA writes. The cable route is proposed to cross the Irish Sea from Loughshinny (north of Dublin in Ireland) to Squires Gate Lane (south of Blackpool on the west coast of the UK). The cable route will include two branches into the Isle of Man (at Port Erin and Port Grenaugh). The system will be deployed by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), while Intertek will act as the environmental and permitting consultants. The new system will be part of the so-called North Atlantic Loop, also comprising the North Sea Connect (NSC) system, which crosses the North Sea and links Newcastle and Denmark. The two submarine systems will combine with existing infrastructure to create a ring-based network to provide connectivity across mainland Europe, the UK and Ireland, with an onward path to the US.

MTN Zambia has inked a deal with Chinese vendor ZTE to construct a cross-border fibre-optic network connecting Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, with neighbouring Namibia. According to a press release, the new network will run approximately 1,000km from Lusaka to Mongu via the border town of Sesheke, where it will interconnect with Namibia (with both Telecom Namibia and Paratus providing onward connectivity from Sesheke to the West African Cable System [WACS] landing station at Swakopmund). In 2016 MTN Zambia deployed a 1,500km backbone network from Lusaka to the Tanzanian border at Nakonde, and a metropolitan area network in Lusaka.

Swedish telecoms group Telia Company has agreed to sell its international carrier business Telia Carrier to the Scandinavian infrastructure investment firm Polhelm Infra. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is valued at SEK9.45 billion (USD1.06 billion) on a cash and debt-free basis. Telia Carrier’s network spans Europe, North America and Asia, connecting customers in more than 120 countries, with the Scandinavian footprint being particularly strong through the so-called Scandinavian Ring – the part of Telia Carrier’s network that connects major Baltic and Nordic cities.

Lastly, the West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) has secured new debt funding from the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) and French development finance institution Proparco. EAIF will provide USD40 million over ten years, while Proparco – which acted as the transaction’s mandated lead arranger – will provide USD60 million. The new finance is part of the company’s corporate development programme, which is forecast to involve capital spending of at least USD379 million across Eastern and Southern Africa. WIOCC acts as a regional wholesale provider, offering connections to international cable systems such as the Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy), the WACS, the Europe India Gateway (EIG), SAT-3, SEACOM and SeaMeWe-3. It currently provides end-to-end international connectivity within Africa via a network spanning 55,000km of terrestrial fibre interconnecting 550 locations across the continent.

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Ireland, Isle of Man, Namibia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Zambia, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Amazon, China Mobile International Ltd, Facebook, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), MTN Zambia, Paratus (Namibia), Telecom Namibia (incl. TN Mobile), Telia Carrier, Telia Company, West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC), ZTE