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

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4 Dec 2020

Ireland-based Aqua Comms has announced the successful launch of the AEC-2 (America Europe Connect-2 (AEC-2) cable. TeleGeography notes that Aqua Comms acts as the overall system administrator for the Havfrue cable, and has dubbed the portion of the cable where it has ownership (Denmark, Ireland and US segments) as AEC-2. The AEC-2 portion of the cable connects New Jersey in the US to Denmark, becoming the first new subsea system directly linking North America to Denmark and the Nordic region in 20 years. (Note: Bulk Infrastructure is the Norwegian landing party for Havfrue.) The new cable was designed to complement Aqua Comms’ existing America Europe Connect-1 (AEC-1) cable which went live in 2016.

Argentina’s National Communications Agency (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones, ENACOM) has confirmed that the Tannat submarine cable – which already linked Uruguay and Brazil – has now been officially extended to Argentina. Active since 2018, the 2,000km system is co-owned by Uruguayan state-run telco Antel and Google. Tannat links Maldonado, near Montevideo in Uruguay, to Santos in Brazil’s Sao Paulo state. A landing point in Las Toninas, Argentina, was planned from the start, but ENACOM only authorised Google Infraestructura Argentina to proceed with the deployment in July 2019.

The Bangladeshi government has approved a project proposal for the country’s connection to a third submarine cable connection, the proposed South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe-6 (SEA-ME-WE-6) system. The approval was given in a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council, and the project will see Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company install infrastructure to connect with SEA-ME-WE-6 by June 2024.

Additional connectivity is also on the cards in Mauritius, where the Council of Ministers has authorised Mauritius Telecom to deploy a new 3,200km submarine cable link to South Africa. The telco will construct a landing station in Baie-de-Jacotet, while the cable itself will have a capacity of 18Tbps per fibre pair. The project should be completed in the second quarter of 2023.

New Zealand-based Hawaiki Submarine Cable has announced it has signed a ‘milestone’ agreement with Hawaiian Telcom, securing significant international capacity on the Southeast Asia–United States (SEA-US) trans-Pacific system which links Guam to Los Angeles. Coupled with recently-acquired capacity on JGA-South cable from Sydney to Guam, this new deal enables Hawaiki to expand its subsea network with a new route linking Sydney, Guam, Hawaii and Los Angeles, offering greater connectivity and route diversity to organisations operating between Australia and the US. Hawaiki owns and operates the Hawaiki transpacific cable, which was launched in July 2018, and spans 15,000km.

Sticking with Hawaiian Telcom, the Honolulu-based firm has confirmed that it has entered into a definitive purchase agreement to acquire inter-island submarine and middle-mile terrestrial fibre infrastructure assets currently owned by the bankruptcy estate of the Paniolo Cable Company. Hawaiian Telcom will acquire the assets for a total purchase price of USD50 million, which the company will pay through a combination of USD25 million in cash and USD25 million in committed purchase money financing. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval of the bankruptcy court and federal regulatory authorities, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021. Hawaiian Telcom has agreed to maintain the Paniolo network prior to the close of the acquisition, enabling Sandwich Isles Communications (SIC), which is not part of the acquisition, the ability to serve its customer base, which includes its customers on the Hawaiian Home Lands.

The governments of Brazil and Guyana have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on technical feasibility studies for the deployment of a fibre-optic link between Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima, and Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. There is an understanding between the two nations that it is necessary to improve connectivity in the Amazon region. If viability is found, this fibre route will be integrated into the structure of the Programa Norte Conectado (Connected North Programme) to expand communications infrastructure in the northern region of South America. The MoU was signed by the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ernesto Araujo, during a visit to the Guyanese capital.

Hong Kong’s HGC Global Communications (HGC) has announced the completion of its network interconnection with TKO Express, the first submarine cable to directly link Chai Wan and the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate (TKOIE), a strategically important telecommunications and media hub for Hong Kong. The cable spans just 3.5km across the Tathong Channel.

Over in Russia, Rostelecom has laid fibre-optic communication lines to the Oleneksky Evenk national region of the Republic of Sakha. The telco says that the area is the first Arctic region of Yakutia which has switched from a satellite channel to optical lines. Construction and installation work on the 432km link was carried out between March and November 2020 and the cable has a capacity of 20Gbps.

Finally, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica has hired Societe Generale and Greenhill to sell the submarine cable business of its infrastructure unit Telxius as part of its wider divestment plan, Cinco Dias reported earlier this week. Created in 2016, Telxius expects to operate 100,000km of submarine cable globally by 2021.

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