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

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15 Jan 2021

NEC Corporation has announced the signing of a contract with the Belau Submarine Cable Corporation (BSCC) of Palau for the Palau Cable 2 (PC2) optical submarine cable construction project. PC2, with a total length of approximately 110km, will connect Palau with a large-capacity submarine cable connecting Southeast Asia and the US mainland. This cable is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2022. The PC2 system will feature the latest optical wavelength multiplexing transmission system of 100Gbps and will provide a redundant route to the other submarine cable laid by NEC in Palau in 2017. The project is being implemented under a buyer’s credit (export finance) loan agreement by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) with BSCC. The loan portion from SMBC is insured by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI). Additional financing is being provided by the US government and the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP).

Xtera has announced a new contract with FSM Telecommunications Corporation (FSMTC) of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) for the upgrade of the HANTRU-1 Submarine Cable between Pohnpei (FSM) and Guam to enable FSMTC to meet the growing demand for broadband services. Xtera’s contract with FSMTC provides new capacity using Xtera’s Nu-Wave Optima Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE) with coherent technology. Fredy Perman, Chief Executive Officer of FSMTC, said: ‘The upgrade of HANTRU-1 with Xtera’s technology makes it possible to extend the system far beyond its original design capacity … This upgrade will enable us to continue to offer an expansive service portfolio to address the ever increasing customer demand for broadband services.’

The 770km ALVAL/ORVAL system connecting Algeria to Spain has entered commercial operations, ultimately providing Algeria with capacity of up to 40Tbps. This system was scheduled to be put into service in December 2019, but its launch was delayed due to ‘financial, legal, administrative and technical constraints.’ The new system features four fibre pairs connecting the three landing stations at Algiers and Oran (in Algeria) and Valencia (Spain). It will initially deliver 3×100Gbps per fibre pair and can scale up to 10Tbps per fibre pair, for a total of 40Tbps, using the latest technology at 100Gbps for each length of wave.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been notified that the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector is reviewing an application for the transfer of control of Interoute from GTT Communications to Cube Telecom Europe BidCo Limited (BidCo). The FCC stated that once responses to the Committee’s initial request for information are completed, the 120-day initial review period will begin. The application seeks a consent to the transfer of control due to the sale of Interoute to BidCo; a consent to the transfer of control for the submarine cable landing licence for the GTT Atlantic cable system; and a grant of international global resale and facilities-based Section 214 authority to Interoute. Interoute will not directly hold international Section 214 authority at the time of closing of the deal but will be operating under the international Section 214 authority of its parent company (which will not be sold to BidCo). The GTT Atlantic system connects the US (via a landing station at Lynn, Massachusetts) with Herring Cove (Nova Scotia, Canada), Dublin (Ireland), Coleraine/Portrush (Northern Ireland) and Southport (the UK). Interoute will only own and control the US portion of the GTT Atlantic, specifically, the Lynn cable landing station and associated equipment and the wet plant in US territorial waters. The remaining segments of the Atlantic Cable are owned by GTT foreign affiliates, control of which will be transferred to I Squared. The applicants are seeking an expedited review and approval to enable timely consummation of the entire transaction, which the parties are targeting for 1 April 2021.

Infinera has reached a new speed and capacity record for data transfer over the MAREA trans-Atlantic cable, with the company claiming to have achieved a deployable capacity of 28Tbps on a single fibre pair in a recent field trial and a ‘hero’ result of 30Tbps of total capacity using its ICE6 optical engine. Infinera achieved a deployable peak line rate of 450Gbps-650Gbps and a ‘hero rate’ of 700Gbps on a single fibre pair over a distance of 6,640km. The cable was originally designed to carry 20Tbps per pair. Steve Grubb, Global Network Optical Architect at Facebook, explained that the total MAREA cable capacity should be capable of 224Tbps, given these latest trial results, adding: ‘The 28Tbps option with ICE6 reduces the network element count by 60% vs. the boxes previously required for 24Tbps.’ The MAREA submarine cable – stretching across the Atlantic Ocean from Bilbao (Spain) to Virginia (US) – is a joint project between Telxius, Facebook and Microsoft. Telxius joined the two original partners Microsoft and Facebook in May 2016, to manage the construction process and operate the cable, with deployment work on the system commencing in August. The system, which entered commercial operations in February 2018, features eight fibre-pairs.

Two submarine cable systems landing in Vietnam – the Intra Asia (IA) and Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) – have suffered faults, VTV.vn writes. According to the news source, on 1 January the IA system suffered a cable error on Segment 1, 49km from the Changi North landing station in Singapore, while the 10,400km APG experienced a fault on the S3 branch on 9 January. Internet providers in Vietnam are currently rerouting traffic via other systems.

Bluewater Regional Networks (BRN), a network operator affiliated with the Bluewater Power Group, has announced a new terrestrial Canada-US route, utilising a new border crossing. The new path offers redundant and diverse connectivity between Toronto (Ontario, Canada) and Chicago (Illinois, US). The new border crossing linking Sarnia (in Ontario) and Port Huron (in Michigan) provides the ability to design unique network solutions between and throughout Canada and the US. Chris Gould, Chief Operating Officer for Bluewater Regional Networks, said: ‘Our community-owned network was established to solve the local digital divide issues throughout the Sarnia-Lambton region, with an emphasis on a global approach to enhance connectivity to Canada and throughout North America. Headquartered in Sarnia, our region is uniquely positioned and has served as a highly traversed commercial gateway between Canada and the United States for over a century, we are excited to add to our story with this new historical network route.’ The path provides direct cross-border connectivity with multiple access points throughout Ontario and within the states of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

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Algeria, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Spain, Vietnam, Facebook, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federated States of Micronesia Telecoms Corp (FSMTC), GTT Communications, Infinera, Microsoft, NEC, Telxius, Xtera