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

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13 Nov 2020

RTI Solutions, RTI HK-G, RTI Connectivity and GU Holdings (an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Google) have notified the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the withdrawal of their application to construct, land and operate the Hong Kong-Guam (HK-G) submarine cable network linking Hong Kong and the US. As planned, the HK-G system consisted of one segment with a length of 3,693km, comprising four fibre pairs (each with a total design capacity of 12Tbps) for a total of 48Tbps using current technology. The HK-G system was set to land at a new cable landing station in Guam (known as Piti 2), to be owned and operated by Gateway Network Connection (GNC), while RTI Solutions was slated to 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 was scheduled to land in an existing facility owned by NTT Com Asia (with RTI HK-G acting as the landing party).

The Skagenfiber West submarine fibre-optic cable between Norway and Denmark has now entered commercial operations. The 173km system has landing stations in Hirtshals (Denmark) and Larvik (Norway) and boasts 48 passive fibre pairs designed to transport over 40Tbps per fibre pair, for a total capacity of 1,920Tbps. On the Norwegian side, the cable interconnects with Altibox’s national fibre network, while in Denmark the cable will be extended by Altibox Carrier’s new international network achieving PoP to PoP connectivity between major hubs. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, fibre operator Lyse revealed in March 2020 that its unit Altibox Carrier had awarded the contract for the installation of the Skagenfiber West submarine cable to Norway-based Cecon Contracting.

The Malbec submarine fibre-optic system – co-owned by wholesale telecommunications company GlobeNet and Facebook, with GlobeNet in charge of its operation – has landed in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). The new cable will significantly boost GlobeNet’s presence in the region, while complimenting its existing 23,500km GlobeNet fibre-optic cable system linking Brazil with Venezuela, Colombia, Bermuda and the US. The 2,500km submarine system will connect GlobeNet’s cable landing station in Rio de Janeiro with the Argentine capital, via a landing point in Las Toninas, to the southeast of Buenos Aires.

Installation works of the offshore section of the Havhingsten/CeltixConnect-2 (CC-2) submarine fibre-optic cable system is expected to commence from mid-November in the Isle of Man region, KIS-ORCA writes. The new cable will 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 Grenaugh (scheduled to take place on 3 December) and Port Erin (13 December). The system will be deployed by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN). 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.

The first stage of the marine survey of the Arctic Connect system aiming to link Europe to Asia has now been completed. The new 10,000km Arctic cable – designed to provide a bandwidth of 200Tbps – is aiming to offer the ‘lowest-latency sea route between Europe and northern Asia’, and is being developed by Finnish company Cinia, in collaboration with MegaFon. The second stage of the survey is expected to commence in 2021, with MegaFon CEO Gevork Vermishyan commenting: ‘The results we’ve obtained will make it possible for us to choose the best route for the line along the Russian Arctic as well as to determine places to build offshore branches.’ Construction work of the system is scheduled to run from 2022 until 2023.

Airtel’s i2i Cable Network (i2icn) cable network, a 3,100km submarine cable connecting India with Singapore, has resumed services following the completion of emergency maintenance works. The i2icn maintenance only affected Bangladesh’s international internet gateway (IIG) operators that are using the SeaMeWe-4 from Cox’s Bazar to Chennai and then are connected to the i2icn to reach Singapore; IIGs connected to Cox’s Bazar to Singapore through the SeaMeWe-4 system did not experience any issues.

Orange Group and its subsidiaries have announced the commissioning and commercial launch of Djoliba, a new pan-African terrestrial and submarine backbone network. This new infrastructure covers eight countries: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, and is ‘natively interconnected with the domestic networks within these countries.’ It boasts 16 PoPs with a grid of nearly 155 technical sites, and comprises 10,000km of terrestrial fibre and 10,000km of submarine networks, according to Orange.

Saudi Telecom Company (stc) is planning to establish an advanced technology business, which is expected to form a digital hub for the MENA region. Existing assets, which stc will bring to this initiative, include its international submarine network linking multiple high capacity cables, which ensures continuous service availability in the event of any cable outages. A number of next-generation multi-terabit cables are currently in the planning stages, with Nasser Bin Sulaiman Al Nasser, stc Group CEO, saying: ‘stc is a primary investor partner of the 2Africa submarine cable project, which will deliver very high capacity interconnectivity between three continents. stc will land this submarine cable in the Red Sea, and we are additionally investing in extending the cable into the Gulf, where we will land in multiple countries.’ stc has further committed to build the Saudi Vision Cable, which will facilitate multi-terabit connection to the Northwestern region of Saudi Arabia via Neom (a planned cross-border city in the Tabuk Province) and onwards to Jordan.

Telefonica SA has reportedly commenced negotiations with international investors to sell its submarine cable network in a bid to ease its debt burden, Expansion writes citing unnamed sources. The Madrid-based company is expecting an evaluation of around EUR2 billion (USD2.37 billion) for the network. The submarine infrastructure is part of Telefonica’s infrastructure unit Telxius, which operates an international network of 100,000km fibre-optic submarine cabling. During the company’s Q3 results call, Telefonica COO Angel Vila noted that several Telefonica divisions had negotiated new five-year contracts with Telxius for use of the submarine cables at reduced fixed prices. Vila was quoted as saying that the move ‘gives full visibility and growth ahead for the Telxius submarine cable for mid-term and long-term. And this visibility in long-term will allow Telxius to contemplate all possible strategic alternatives for this subsea cable unit.’

Lastly, the government of Catalonia has announced that the construction of a fibre-optic cable landing point is already underway in Sant Adria de Besos, a municipality in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. The Barcelona Cable Landing Station (CLS) is slated for completion in the spring of 2022.

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Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Denmark, Ghana, Guam, Guinea, Hong Kong, Ireland, Isle of Man, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, United Kingdom, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Altibox (incl. Lyse Tele), Bharti Airtel, Cinia Group (formerly Corenet), Facebook, GlobeNet Cabos Submarinos, Google (Alphabet), MegaFon, NTT COM Asia, Orange Group, RAM Telecom International (RTI), Saudi Telecom Company (stc), Telefonica, Telxius