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

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16 Apr 2021

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been notified that the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector has no objection to the FCC’s approval of an application filed by Edge Cable Holdings (Facebook), Aqua Comms Americas, 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 approval is conditional on commitments set forth in a Letter of Assurances (LoA) of 1 April 2021. 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.

Rostelecom has commenced construction on the first stage of its TEA NEXT project aiming to link the western and eastern borders of the Russian Federation, with the terrestrial fibre-optic communication line (FOCL) from Moscow to the Russian border with Latvia scheduled to go live in 2022, ComNews writes. A spokesman for Rostelecom’s press service said: ‘The choice of the route of the first section for the Moscow-Petersburg-Europe connectivity is justified by the large volume of traffic in this direction and the need to ensure its further growth. The design capacity of the new FOCL across the territory of the Russian Federation will be 96 dark fibres. The chosen method of laying is laying in the ground. We do not name the Latvian operators for legal reasons.’ The TEA NEXT project, first announced in June 2020, is developed by Rostelecom’s newly founded company Atlas. The TEA NEXT is aiming to link Kaliningrad with Sakhalin, with branches to the main cities of the Russian Federation along the route, namely: St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Tyumen, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. The terrestrial network, estimated to cost USD500 million, will comprise 96 dark fibre cores (48 fibre pairs) and is expected to go live in 2024.

Sonatel, the incumbent operator of Senegal, and ICT company Envol Technology have inked an agreement with energy company Sogem to manage its fibre-optic infrastructure in four West African countries — Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal. Hamadoun Toure, Mali’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said: ‘I hope that this will allow lower internet and communications prices, and this partnership will add value to the digital ecosystem. This network of cables will be connected to the large submarine network, which will put our country on the same level as the countries by the sea.’ Sogem’s terrestrial fibre network stretches 1,728km across the four countries. Envol’s Secretary-General Harouna Diakite said the project ‘aims to develop a modern, reliable, very high speed regional telecommunications infrastructure. It relies on a terrestrial optical fibre network coupled with submarine cables, thus offering secure international connectivity.’

Tata Communications and its cable landing partner Bahrain Internet Exchange (BIX) have extended their partnership to offer high speed internet connectivity with low latency for customers in Bahrain. Equipped with OTU-4 (Optical Transport Unit), the TGN-Gulf cable system will enable customers with the capability to scale up beyond 100Gbps.

Verge Digital Infrastructure (Verge) has successfully completed its first capital raise, after securing USD2.5 million in its development round, which it will use to finalise key project elements prior to commencing construction of its planned open access EDGE data centre and cable landing station projects across South-East Asia. An affiliate of New York-based DH Capital organised and led the investment. In January 2021, Verge’s affiliate in Thailand LXT Networks secured its Type 3 telecommunications licence which allows it to provide submarine cable landings, terrestrial fibre and data centre services. With its development round funding completed, Verge will now obtain the required permits before beginning construction of its facilities in Q3 2021.

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Bahrain, France, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Russia, Senegal, United Kingdom, United States, Aqua Communications (AquaComms), Atlas, Facebook, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Microsoft, Orange Group, Rostelecom, Sonatel, Tata Communications, Vodafone Group