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

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26 Mar 2021

US-based vendor Xtera has been selected by Galapagos Cable Systems (GCS) to deploy its new 1,280km submarine cable system between mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. The subsea cable will connect Manta-Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal; Port Ayora on Santa Cruz; and Port General Villamil on Isla Isabela. The cable, which is expected to go live in 2022, will have a full design capacity of 20Tbps.

Australia’s Fibre Expressway has unveiled the details of its Project Koete initiative, which will see the deployment of an 8,000km carrier neutral, low latency cable linking Perth to Darwin and Perth to Kuantan in Malaysia via Indonesia and Singapore, with a minimum of three fibre pairs. The new network is expected to be ready for service (RFS) in 2023.

Ireland-based AquaComms has upgraded its two transatlantic submarine cable routes with Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme submarine network solution. The upgrade will benefit the AEConnect-1, which links the US to Ireland and the UK, and Havfrue/AEC-2, which connects the US to Denmark. The AEConnect-1 path, which spans 5,521km, has been modernised and upgraded to support 400GbE services leveraging Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e) – doubling the cable’s capacity to almost 20Tbps. Meanwhile, the 7,650km AEC-2 network has been upgraded to support 500G transatlantic channel rates.

Zayo Group Holdings has also announced the deployment of Ciena’s WL5e technology between Dublin, Ireland and Amsterdam, Netherlands, providing increased optical network capacity and reach between these key markets. Zayo says it is now able to deliver multi-terabit capacity across its pan-European network, enabling higher transmission rates, reduced cost per bit and an optimised network performance.

Dagang NeXchange (DNeX) has disclosed that a consortium comprising its business unit DNeX Telco Indonesia (DTI), Samudera Mbiantu Sesami (SMS) and Infrastruktur Telekomunikasi Indonesia (TelkomInfra) has won a USD3 million submarine cable deployment contract in Indonesia. DNeX said that the contract, which is expected to commence immediately, entails the installation of the Luwuk-Morowali-Kendari and Labuan Bajo-Raba submarine cables.

Filipino broadband provider *Converge ICT Solutions* has revealed that it expects to complete the construction of a fibre-optic subsea backbone network in the Visayas archipelago and Mindanao in the first half of 2021, the Manila Standard writes. The Visayas-Mindanao expansion involves 1,800km of submarine cable, connecting over 20 landing stations throughout the country. The landing stations are ‘substantially completed’ and are now awaiting the vessel that will execute the submarine cable-laying operations; the cable should go live in 2Q21.

Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has signed an agreement with the Chairperson of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Osama Rabei and the Director of Signal Administration Tariq Al-Zahir for the establishment of a new fibre-optic path between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea via the Al-Morshedeen Road, the Daily News Egypt reports. According to the contract, the three parties will cooperate to lay fibre-optic cables through the Suez Canal, connecting Telecom Egypt’s (TE’s) infrastructure to other international cables.

The Scottish Government has named 15 islands that will gain access to faster broadband speeds via ‘LOT 1’ (North Scotland and the Highlands) of its GBP579 million (USD793.9 million) ‘Reaching 100% (R100)’ project. According to ISP Review, LOT 1 involves the deployment of 16 new subsea fibre cables to help connect 15 of Scotland’s most remote communities. Alongside Shetland and Orkney, the cables will connect the likes of Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Fair Isle. Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Minister for Energy, Connectivity & the Islands, said: ‘The new subsea cables will ensure these 15 island communities have access to futureproofed, resilient, reliable connections – something that will make a huge difference to both residents and businesses there.’

Over in South Africa, Investec has arranged a ZAR2.5 billion (USD167.9 million) debt package for Gauteng-based MetroFibre, supporting its fibre network rollout across South Africa. The debt package complements the recent ZAR1.5 billion equity raise supported by new shareholder AIIM together with current shareholders.

Sticking with South Africa, Remgro has increased its stake in Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH), the parent of Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), following a rights issue used by CIVH to raise capital for expansion and reduce debt. According to Tech Central, Remgro disclosed that its stake in CIVH has increased marginally from 54.7% to 55.2% most recent financial report.

Infrastructure firm Telxius has signed an agreement with Interxion which will allow it to secure direct interconnection for the Dunant subsea cable at Interxion’s Paris campus. The facility is said to be one of the world’s leading digital business hubs and comprises seven data centres.

Windstream Wholesale and Colt Technology Services have successfully trialled an optical spectrum solution, whereby Colt leveraged the Windstream Flex grid open line system between Chicago and Ashburn, Virginia, to build a 600G wavelength using its own coherent transmission system. Colt leveraged the Windstream-provided managed spectrum to deliver multiple 100GE and 400GE services, traversing nearly 1800km between the business hubs.

Finally, the UK government has announced that the Royal Navy is developing a new Multi Role Ocean Surveillance ship (MROSS) to protect the nation against ‘hostile actors’. The ship, which will come into service by 2024, will be a surface vessel, with a crew of around 15 people who will conduct research to help the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence protect the UK’s undersea critical national infrastructure. The government states: ‘Undersea cables are vital to the global economy and communications between governments. Submarine warfare presents a particular risk of sabotage to undersea cable infrastructure – an existential threat to the UK.’

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