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

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28 May 2021

The Arctic Connect submarine cable project – developed by Finnish company Cinia in collaboration with MegaFon – has been put on hold. In a press release, Megafon stated: ‘We made a decision to revise the structure and economics of the Arctic Connect project, it will take us time for such a regrouping – all the developments of the project will be used in the future, if we decide to continue it’. The reason for the suspension of the construction of the Arctic Connect network was not disclosed. Unnamed sources cited by Vedomosti claim that the suspension of construction is connected to the delay in negotiations on the implementation of the project by the Japanese side: ‘The Japanese trade and investment company Sojitz Corporation and its partners are participating in the project. A cooperation agreement was signed last year. However, its structures, under various pretexts, are dragging out negotiations on co-financing the project and providing services to connect to a new network of clients in Japan.’ The 10,000km Arctic cable – designed to provide a bandwidth of 200Tbps – was aiming to connect Europe, coastal regions of Russia, Japan and North America. MegaFon first announced plans to build Arctic Connect in 2019; the same year, the Russian operator and Cinia established their 50/50 joint venture Arctic Link Development to implement the project. In October 2020 Cinia revealed that new partners from Japan, Norway and Finland joined the Arctic Connect initiative. The new Japanese investors were led by multi-national trading and investment company Sojitz Corporation and also include Atago Corporation, Crypton Future Media, Hokkaido Electric Power, Optage and Sakura Internet. The Norwegian partnership consisted of Bredbandsfylket Arctic Link, Ishavslink and Sor-Varanger Utvikling, while the Finnish stakeholders were C-Fiber Hanko, Pietarsaaren Seudun Puhelin, Lapit, Napapiirin Energia ja Vesi and Rovaniemen Kehitys.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has revealed that the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector is reviewing an application filed by Facebook and Google to land and operate within US territory the Echo cable system, a private fibre-optic submarine cable network aiming to connect California, Guam, Singapore and Indonesia. 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 Echo cable will run from Eureka, California (US) to Changi North in Singapore and will feature two additional branches to Agat and Piti (Guam), with plans to also land in Tanjung Pakis in Indonesia. Echo will provide 12Tbps of capacity per fibre pair, with the 16,206km main trunk comprising twelve fibre pairs. The two 372km branches to Guam (BU1 and BU2) will each feature twelve fibre pairs, while the 234km branching unit to Indonesia (BU3) will consist of four fibre pairs. The system is being developed in partnership with XL Axiata; it is due to be completed in Q3 2023.

Internet users in Mauritius may be experiencing internet service disruptions until 1 June 2021, due to repairs on the SAT3 submarine cable. According to Mauritius Telecom, ‘the SAFE/SAT3/WASC consortium will be carrying out repair work on the SAT3 submarine cable […] from 24 May to 1 June 2021.’ Mauritius Telecom has assured consumers that adequate arrangements are being made to redirect internet traffic to other submarine cables, including the recently commissioned METISS.

Meanwhile, SFR Reunion has revealed that disruptions to the EASSy and EIG cables (connected to the LION cable) in Egypt and at Port Sudan have led to ‘significant disturbances’ in fixed and mobile services in Reunion and Mayotte. The operator added that due to the maintenance teams, there has been an ‘improvement in capacity’ via the LION cable, though work is still underway in Egypt to identify the cause of the failure of the EIG cable.

Elsewhere, the Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) has informed users to expect temporary disruption of internet services due to maintenance work of the SeaMeWe-4 submarine cable. According to a BSCCL press release, the existing underground cable route will be replaced by a new route on 28 May 2021. In the meantime, traffic will be rerouted to SeaMeWe-5 and International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) operators.

Infinera and Hokkaido Telecommunications Network (HOTnet) have announced the deployment of Infinera’s open optical networking solutions to enhance the performance of HOTnet’s high speed fibre-optic network. HOTnet’s optical long-haul and metro networks interconnect major cities across Hokkaido island in Japan. With Infinera’s GX Series Compact Modular Platform, 7100 Series Packet-Optical Transport Platform, and mTera Series Universal Transport Platform solutions, HOTnet will be able to provide customers with critical bandwidth needed to meet growing data demands. Additionally, the highly compact, scalable, converged switching and transport system design of the 7100 and mTera solutions enables HOTnet to increase network reliability with restoration features by leveraging any other available routes in the event of multiple failures.

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