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

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16 Oct 2020

AP&T Wireless, a subsidiary of Alaska Power & Telephone Company (AP&T), has been selected to receive a USD21.545 million grant via the USDA Rural Utility Service’s ReConnect grant programme for the SEALink project. AP&T will provide over USD7 million in matching funds. The project will comprise the deployment of local networks which will provide high speed broadband access to all premises in Kasaan and Coffman Cove in Alaska, and the rollout of a 340km fibre-optic cable between Prince of Wales Island (Petersburg) and Juneau. The initiative is slated for completion in 2025.

Elsewhere, Alaska’s GCI has been awarded a USD25 million federal grant to build a fibre network serving the Aleutian communities in Alaska. The grant was awarded from the USDA Rural Utility Service’s ReConnect programme in support of GCI’s Alaska United-Aleutians Fiber Project, which will provide terrestrial broadband service to underserved areas of the state. The new infrastructure will bring broadband to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor and five other communities – King Cove, Sand Point, Akutan, Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay. Subject to permitting and other contingencies, the project – including a new 1,280km submarine fibre-optic system from Kodiak along the south side of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians to Unalaska – is slated for completion by the end of 2022. The total cost of the project is USD58 million, with GCI providing additional funding of USD33 million.

The Portuguese government is preparing an economic and financial study and a model for the construction contract for a project to replace the submarine cables connecting mainland Portugal and the autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira (CAM), local news agency LUSA writes. According to an Official State Gazette publication (from 30 September), the investment in the replacement of the infrastructure (including the submarine cable stations and adaptation to provide complementary services) will cost EUR118.9 million (USD1339.3 million), with the new infrastructure scheduled to be operational in 2024 (Azores) and 2025 (Madeira). To this end, IP Telecom, which is responsible for the investment, must launch the international public tender by the end of 2020 and award the construction and installation contract by the end of 2021, with a two-year deadline for physical installation. The new submarine CAM ring will have six pairs of fibre-optic cables in all segments, complemented by a pair of fibre from Madeira. Earlier this month, Altice Portugal chairman Alexandre Fonseca disclosed that his company would assess the conditions of the public tender; while the executive expressed the company’s willingness to ‘collaborate’ on the project, he also noted that the regulatory environment in the country is ‘hostile to investment’.

An application filed by Telia Company and Oura BidCo US seeking the FCC’s consent to transfer control of the 5.77% interest stake in the TAT-14 submarine cable held by Telia Carrier US – a wholly owned subsidiary of Telia Company – to BidCo US (owned by Polhem Infra) has been blocked. On 5 October Telia Company and Polhem Infra entered into a Master Share Purchase Agreement, pursuant to which Telia will sell its entire stake in 34 Telia Carrier subsidiaries, including Telia Carrier US, to Polhem Infra’s wholly owned, indirect subsidiaries. Upon closing, Polhem Infra’s owners Forsta AP-fonden (AP1, or First Swedish National Pension Fund), Tredje AP-fonden (AP3, or Third Swedish National Pension Fund) and Fjarde AP-fonden (AP4, or Fourth National Swedish Pension Fund) will each indirectly hold 33.33% of Telia Carrier US. The TAT-14 system linking Denmark to the US is scheduled to be retired on 15 December 2020. The 15,295km system, which entered operations in April 2001, has landing stations in Blaabjerg (Denmark), Bude and St. Austell (UK), Katwijk (Netherlands), Norden (Germany), St. Valery (France), and Manasquan and Tuckerton (New Jersey, US).

Chile’s First Environmental Court has ordered multi-service telecommunications provider Gtd Teleductos to temporary suspend its Prat submarine cable in La Serena after accepting an appeal lodged by local fishing associations, news agency Pisapapeles reports. GTD was told to cease works for a minimum period of 30 days while the complaint is considered by the Second Environmental Court in Santiago. The 3,500km Prat system stretches from Arica to Puerto Montt via Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena, Valparaiso and Talcahuano and contains 34 fibre-optic strands. The fishing associations claim that since the cable landed at La Serena in December 2019, it has caused significant environmental damage and demand ‘the absolute withdrawal of the Prat system’.

GlobalConnect has established a new unit targeting tech giants with high capacity needs, carriers and system integrators, dubbed GlobalConnect Carrier. GlobalConnect Carrier will have offices in Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), Oslo (Norway), Helsinki (Finland) and Berlin (Germany), and boasts access to more than 74,500km of fibre, 3,300 access nodes, and more than 27,000 square metres of space in 16 data centres. Regina Donato Dahlstrom, CEO of GlobalConnect Carrier, said: ‘Although GlobalConnect Carrier offer services across Northern Europe, we will have a strong local presence, with experts in each country who know their market and understand the obstacles on their road to success, but who also know how to solve problems by drawing on the expertise of people throughout our organisation. The carrier business was the starting point for both GlobalConnect and IP-Only, which merger combined two strong networks into one, removing borders for clients. With this new business unit, we are focusing on the core area of our business.’

LS Cable is seeking to acquire KT Submarine and is said to be in negotiations with the firm regarding the acquisition price, an unnamed senior industry official told The Korea Times. KT CEO Koo Hyun-mo has previously expressed his desire to conduct a major corporate restructuring of KT in order to focus more on the future growth engines of the telecom industry by disposing of affiliates unrelated to telecom, namely KT Submarine and commerce business KTH.

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Chile, Portugal, United States, GCI Communication Corp, Grupo GTD (incl. Telsur), IP-Only/GlobalConnect, KT Submarine Co, Telia Carrier, Telia Company