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

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5 Mar 2021

Telecom Egypt (TE) has announced its plans to launch Hybrid African Ring Path (HARP) by 2023. This project is not a separate new cable system, but rather is a combination of multiple submarine cables TE is investing in that will outline the African continent. It will connect coastal and landlocked African countries to Europe through the company’s terrestrial and subsea infrastructure. Through HARP, TE will offer a wide range of capacity solutions, up to dark fibre, based on a Layer Two and Layer Three architecture that can connect multiple points on the system to one another. According to TE, HARP will connect Africa’s East and West bounds to Europe, from South Africa to Italy and France along the continent’s East Coast, and to Portugal along its West Coast. Terrestrial routes will connect the landing points within South Africa, Europe and Egypt, forming a ring around the continent. HARP’s planned routes will cross the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, and will extend to include premium routes on both banks of the Suez Canal. Sharm El-Sheikh, located at the southern tip of Sinai, will serve as a new landing point and will be connected to coastal cities on the Gulf of Suez, forming a hybrid terrestrial and subsea fibre connectivity solution between landing points in Egypt.

Humberto Chavez, CEO of Claro Peru, has revealed that the Pacific Cable has landed on the shores of Playa Arica in Lurin (Peru). The 7,300km cable – announced in 2019 by America Movil and Telxius – will connect Puerto San Jose (Guatemala) with Valparaiso (Chile), with additional landing points in Salinas (Ecuador), Lurin (Peru) and Arica (Chile). The system, which will have an initial estimated capacity of 108Tbps, is expected to be ready for service (RFS) in June 2021.

Telefonica Group and global investment group Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ) have announced a fibre-optic partnership FiBrasil Infraestrutura e Fibra Otica (FiBrasil), which will deploy a fibre-optic wholesale backbone in Brazil. Upon completion, Telefonica Group and CDPQ will each hold 50% in FiBrasil using a co-control governance model. Telefonica Group’s 50% stake will be held through Telefonica Brazil (Vivo, 25%) and infrastructure unit Telefonica Infra (25%). Once live, FiBrasil will deploy and operate fibre-optic networks in select cities across Brazil outside of Sao Paulo, and to offer fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) wholesale access to all service providers. Starting with a portfolio of 1.6 million homes passed through Telefonica Brasil, FiBrasil aims reach 5.5 million homes passed within four years. CDPQ is investing approximately USD315 million in the joint venture. The transaction is scheduled to close in Q2 2021, subject to regulatory approval.

Liberty Latin America (LLA) is mulling a number of strategic options for its submarine cable infrastructure, including a potential spinoff of the entire unit, BN Americas writes. LLA CEO Balan Nair was cited as saying: ‘We are working on at least the first stages of putting the math together and doing some of the legal and accounting work, so that people can really see the value of the standalone asset.’ LLA’s submarine infrastructure comprises over 50,000km of fibre-optic cables across 40 markets in Central America and the Caribbean.

Bill Barney, former CEO of Global Cloud Xchange, has established a new pan-Asian edge data centre platform called Turbidite. The new platform – backed by Hong Kong-based New World Development Company Limited – is in the process of acquiring and developing a series of carrier neutral edge data centres. Bill Barney said: ‘With the emerging markets of Asia Pacific set for solid growth in the next wave of digital transformation, and a huge gap in highly connected, safe data centres, we believe this is a perfect time to build our footprint in the capital cities of the key emerging Asian markets, then expanding to the second tier developed markets … We are in the process of securing our first three acquisitions which are expected to be announced in 2021.’

Repair works on two of Vietnam’s submarine cables have now been completed, with internet services in the country completely restored, the Vietnam News Agency writes. Repairs on the disaster-prone Asia Pacific Gateway (APG), which links Vietnam with Hong Kong and Japan, completed on 3 March, two days later than the original plan, while issues with branches along the Tata TGN-Intra Asia cable connecting Vietnam with Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, were fixed on 4 March (four days behind schedule). The delays were reportedly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented international partners from applying for permits to bring ships into designated sea areas. TeleGeography notes that the Tata TGN-Intra Asia system suffered a cable fault on 1 January 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.

Elsewhere, a cable fault has been reported on the Trans-Pacific Express (TPE) cable system, with the damage affecting Segment 4, which connects Chongming Island (China) and Tamsui (Taiwan). The 17,968km TPE fibre-optic system links Japan with mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan and the US. The system is operated by a consortium comprising NTT Communications, AT&T, China Telecom, China Unicom, Chungwha Telecom, KT Corp and Verizon.

US research and education (R&E) network Internet2 has deployed its first single-carrier 800Gbps optical circuit between Phoenix and Tucson (US). The deployment is part of Internet2’s Next Generation Infrastructure (NGI) programme. The new 800G connection leverages a 102GHz carrier between Ciena Waveserver 5 transponders at each end. Following an upgrade to most of the fibres in the NGI network from LEAF to SMF28, the company is planning to commence a second upgrade phase adding 400G and 800G capabilities to other parts of the fibre network.

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