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

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8 Jan 2021

Submarine cable operator EllaLink has landed its cable system in Sines (Portugal), ahead of its 2Q21 launch. As currently planned, the 6,200km cable will allow 72Tbps of connectivity between Europe and Latin America. The system will boast landing stations at Sines in Portugal and at Praia Grande near Sao Paolo (Brazil), with branches to Kourou (French Guiana), the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira and Praia on the African island nation of Cape Verde.

Telecom Egypt (TE) has signed an agreement with Google to provide it with a layer three meshed solution on Telecom Egypt’s network infrastructure. As part of the agreement, Google will also be provided capacity on Telecom Egypt’s Mediterranean submarine cable, TE North. The mesh project connects several cable landing stations (CLSs) in the Red and Mediterranean Seas over diverse routes and will increase the reliability of Google’s international transit traffic. The project is expected to go live in the first half of 2021.

CanArctic Inuit Networks is planning to deploy the 2,104km SednaLink Fibre cable system between Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut (Canada’s northernmost territory), and Clarenville in Newfoundland. CanArctic Inuit Networks will construct a double-armoured, repeatered four-pair cable with a design capacity of 48Tbps, with four branching units to Baffin Island, Hudson Strait, Nunavik and Kivalliq. A separate unrepeatered festoon loop will be constructed by a CanArctic affiliate from the backbone, to serve the six Nunatsiavut communities of Nain, Voisey’s Bay, Natuashish, Hopedale, Makkovik and Postville. CEO Doug Cunningham said: ‘With the co-operation of all levels of government, we should be able to undertake the marine surveys and bury the nearshore cable conduits in August or September this year,’ adding that the company aims to complete the marine installation in early October 2022. The system is expected to enter services in November 2022.

Crosslake Fibre has selected Hexatronic Cables & Interconnect Systems of Sweden to supply it with fibre-optic cables for its 550km CrossChannel Fibre project, which will connect Slough in the UK with Paris, France. Billed as ‘the first fibre-optic submarine cable to be built across the English Channel in nearly 20 years’, the high-fibre-count, non-repeatered system will contain 96 fibre pairs, each of which will provide over 20Tbps of throughput capacity. The new cable has been designed to support increased bandwidth requirements from telcos, content providers, media companies and financial services companies, and should be ready for service (RFS) in late 2021. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, Pioneer Consulting completed the marine route survey for the system in November 2020.

Cinturion has commenced construction of the Trans-Europe Asia System (TEAS), aiming to provide design capacity of over 300Tbps via new and diverse parallel routes between India, the Middle East and Europe. The system consists of two diverse connections across the Mediterranean Sea, two diverse paths inter-linking the Middle East, multiple routes across the Arabian Peninsula, and a route through the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. Total subsea and terrestrial network segments span over 19,000km with an RFS date expected in Q3 2023.

NEC Corporation India has announced the successful completion of the submarine cable system connecting Chennai, India and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (A&N Islands). NEC Corporation, the parent company of NEC India, manufactured the optical submarine cable and provided technical assistance during the turnkey implementation. Spanning approximately 2,300km with 100Gbps optical waves, the cable system connects Chennai to Port Blair and the islands of Havelock, Little Andaman (Hutbay), Car Nicobar, Kamorta, the Great Nicobar Islands, Long Island and Rangat. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, Indian telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) handed NEC India the contract to design, engineer, supply, install, test and implement the optical submarine cable system in July 2018.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been notified that the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector will perform a 120-day review of an application filed by Edge Cable Holdings (Facebook), AquaComms, Cable & Wireless Americas Systems (Vodafone) and Microsoft Infrastructure to land and operate within US territory the Amitie system, a private fibre-optic submarine cable network connecting the US, the UK and France, to be operated on a non-common-carrier basis. The Amitie system will consist of three segments: Segment 1.1 will connect Lynn, Massachusetts with a branching unit in the Atlantic Ocean between the UK and France; it will have 16 fibre pairs, each having a design capacity of 20.1Tbps using current technology, and a length of 5,276km. Segment 1.2 will connect Bude (UK) with the branching unit via twelve fibre pairs, each having a design capacity of 20.1Tbps and a length of 645km. Segment 1.3 will connect a new landing station in Le Porge (France) with the branching unit via twelve fibre pairs, each having a design capacity of 20.1Tbps and a length of 871km. Orange Group will serve both as the France landing party for the system and will own a portion of the system extending twelve nautical miles from the French shore; the company will grant to the applicants and their affiliates dark fibre IRUs on that portion of the system. The applicants intend to commence commercial operations of the Amitie system by Q1 2022, therefore seeking a timely grant of a cable landing licence (no later than 31 July 2021) in order for the construction activities to proceed on schedule.

AST Telecom (BlueSky), American Samoa Hawaii Cable and Samoa American Samoa Cable have notified the FCC that the American Samoa-Hawaii segment of the American Samoa-Hawaii (ASH) cable system was retired and taken out of commercial service, effective 16 July 2020. The Samoa-American Samoa segment remains in service. This remaining portion of the system will now be known as the Samoa-American Samoa (SAS) cable system.

AquaComms has requested that the FCC modify the cable landing licence for the AEConnect-1 cable linking the US and Ireland in order to reflect revisions to the security mitigation arrangements negotiated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The new letter of assurances (2021 LOA) replaced the 2014 LOA (negotiated with the DHS in October 2014), effective January 2021.

Elsewhere, the FCC has approved the pro forma assignment of an interest in the Havfrue cable landing licence from America Europe Connect 2 Limited (AEC2) to AquaComms Americas. AEC2 is a party to the supply contract with the Havfrue system supplier SubCom. To simplify and streamline its operations, AEC2 executed (along with the other Havfrue owners) a Certificate of Commercial Acceptance with SubCom, effective 12 November 2020, providing among other things that AquaComms Americas would take title to the US-territory portion of AEC2’s interest in the Havfrue system. The transaction did not result in a change in ownership of entities; pre-/post-consummation, all of the asset-owning entities have remained wholly-owned, direct or indirect subsidiaries of AquaComms Designated Activity Company and ultimately controlled by the 2013 Bake Family Trust.

The FCC has approved a number of pro forma transfers in control related to an internal restructuring of Verizon which occurred on 30 June 2020 and included the elimination of multiple companies in the Verizon ownership chain, as well as the conversion of certain companies from corporations to limited liability companies. The FCC gave its nod to the pro forma transfer of MCI Communications Corporation’s (MCI’s) 13.43% interest in the Japan-U.S. Cable (JUS) system to Verizon Business. Further, the FCC also approved MCI International Inc’s (MCII’s) pro forma transfer of its 12.81% interest in the Trans-Pacific Express (TPE) Cable System to MCI International LLC; the pro forma assignment reflects the conversion of MCII from a corporation to a limited liability company. Finally, the FCC granted its consent to the pro forma transfer of MFS Globenet’s interests in the Challenger Bermuda-1 (CB-1), the Gemini Bermuda and the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN).

Gambia Submarine Cable Company (GSC) has revealed that the ACE cable system experienced a fault on 1 January 2021, thus impacting internet services in Gambia. Lamin Jabbi, GSC managing director, said: ‘We have an immediate measure which is to make sure we have a ship on the ground [and] that ship will be arriving at the site on Monday [4 January] to actually do the reconnection to the trouble area.’ According to Jabbi, the disruption has affected a number of other countries that are also connected to the ACE cable: ‘The problem is not on our coastal part here. There is nothing wrong with our system.’

Zayo and Liquid Telecom have inked an agreement aimed at expanding their network coverage in North America and Europe. The collaboration will also enable customers of Zayo to tap into the ‘extensive and reliable’ connectivity provided by Liquid Telecom across the African continent.

Lastly, Chinese vendor ZTE has completed the rollout of a 1,760km fibre backbone network in Mauritania. Deployed under the West African Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (WARCIP) project funded by the World Bank, the new infrastructure includes urban loops and improved international links. The backbone network comprises the following trunk backbone routes: Nouakchott-Atar-Choum (555km), Rosso-Boghe-Kaedi-Selibabi-Kiffa (749km), and Aioun-Nema (288km). ZTE commenced the network deployment in 2018.

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