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

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29 Jan 2021

The Africa-1 consortium – currently comprising Etisalat, G42, Mobily, Pakistan Telecommunication Company and Telecom Egypt (with other parties expected to join soon) – and Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) have commenced the implementation of the new submarine fibre-optic network. The 10,000km Africa-1 cable will feature eight fibre pairs and is aiming to connect Africa with the Middle East and South East Asia, with onward connectivity to Europe. The Africa-1 system is expected to be ready for operation by the end of 2023 and will initially have cable landing stations in Kenya, Djibouti, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. The system will also land in Sudan, cross Egypt through diverse new terrestrial routes on the way to France, and further connect other countries in the Mediterranean – such as Algeria, Tunisia and Italy. The next phase will include additional landings in Yemen and Somalia, as well as an extension from Kenya to South Africa with intermediate landings in Tanzania and Mozambique. Africa-1 will be equipped with ASN 1620 SoftNode transmission equipment, featuring high performance 200Gbps/300Gbps/400Gbps advanced coherent XWAV line cards.

Chile’s Transport and Telecommunications Ministry (MTT) and the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) have revealed that the 13,000km cable aiming to link Chile to Auckland (New Zealand) and Sydney (Australia) will be known as Humboldt. The initial design of the cable includes between four and eight fibre-optic pairs, with a transmission capacity of 10Tbps-20Tbps. A contract for a feasibility study for the cable deployment was awarded to a consortium comprising Telecommunications Management Group (TMG) and WFN Strategies in September 2019. A total of eight proposals were received from both national and international companies and consultants. Subtel is expecting to finalise the financing of the project in 2021, with an estimated figure of USD388 million required for the rollout.

US Telecom and Sprint Communications have notified the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the pro forma transfer of control of the submarine cable landing licence for the Americas-I cable held by Sprint Communications Company (SCC), which resulted from an internal corporate reorganisation involving indirect wholly owned subsidiaries of T-Mobile US. The transaction, which occurred on 31 December 2020, involved the merger of US Telecom into Sprint Communications, with Sprint as the surviving entity. This resulted in the pro forma transfer of control of SCC and its FCC licences and authorisations.

Verizon Communications, on behalf of wholly-owned indirect subsidiaries MFS Globenet and MCI International, has requested the FCC consent to the pro forma assignment of Globenet’s interests in the Challenger Bermuda-1 (CB-1), the Gemini Bermuda and the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) cable systems to MCI International in connection with an internal restructuring involving certain Verizon subsidiaries on 31 December 2020. Verizon, through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, owns and operates the US landing stations and 100% of the US segments of the CB-1 and Gemini Bermuda systems. With regards to the SCCN, MCI International operates the US cable landing stations in Morro Bay (California, US) and Nedonna Beach (Oregon, US), 100% of the territorial US segment of the cable network and holds 10.01% indirect ownership of the cable network. The restructuring included in relevant part the merger of MFS Globenet into its direct parent company MCI International.

A submarine cable fault disrupted internet connectivity in Colombia and Venezuela on 24 January, according to Doug Madory, Director of Internet Analysis at Kentik. El Centro technico and Centro Technico de Latino America are said to be currently trying to locate the cable cut.

Public-private company Guineenne de la Large Bande (GUILAB) – which is responsible for Guinea’s participation in and management of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable – has revealed that a new submarine cable fault was detected on the country’s sole cable on 24 January. GUILAB reports that the damage had been caused by a malfunction recorded on the power supply equipment (PFE20MON) of the submarine line at the landing station in Monrovia (Liberia), also affecting international communications in Sierra Leone. A previous cable fault reported in early January on the branch to Banjul (Gambia) – which forced GUILAB to reroute traffic via Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Monrovia – is currently being repaired.

Internet users in Bangladesh may face slow connection on 31 January due to a scheduled maintenance work on the SeaMeWe-5 submarine cable. The Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company (BSCC) highlighted that during the maintenance, traffic will be rerouted via SeaMeWe-4 and International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) operators.

Telia Carrier, the global fully-owned subsidiary of Telia Company, and global encrypted telecommunications carrier 6×7 Networks have revealed plans to interconnect their networks to provide IP transit services across their mutual global backbones. The deal will involve 35 interconnection points and 120 countries. Elsewhere, Telia Carrier has announced the launch of a new PoP at Telxius’ Derio Communications Hub located near Bilbao (Spain). The agreement enhances Telia Carrier’s fibre backbone and connectivity for customers seeking gateway access to a completely new and diverse path from the Americas to Europe with low latency and high capacity between the two continents. Telxius’ Derio facilities leverages the full capacity of MAREA connecting to key communication hubs in Europe like Madrid (Spain), London (the UK) and Paris and Marseille (France). To fully maximise Derio’s reach, Telxius is also finalising two direct backhaul connections straight to Paris and Madrid, leveraging existing Telxius infrastructure.

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Algeria, Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, Djibouti, Egypt, France, Guinea, Italy, Kenya, Mozambique, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL), Department of Telecommunications (Subtel), Etisalat UAE, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Guineenne de la Large Bande (GUILAB), Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications (MTT), Mobily (Etihad Etisalat), Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), Sprint Corporation (now part of T-Mobile US), Telecom Egypt, Telia Carrier, Telia Company, Telxius, Verizon Communications