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

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11 Jun 2021

SubCom, in conjunction with Google, today announced that a contract is in force for the design, manufacture, and deployment of Firmina, a new high-speed undersea cable system connecting North and South America. The cable will run from the East Coast of the US to Las Toninas, Argentina, with additional landings in Praia Grande, Brazil and Punta del Este (Uruguay). Designed as a twelve-fibre pair trunk, Firmina will improve access to Google services for users in South America. Manufacture of the cable and equipment will take place at SubCom’s manufacturing campus in Newington (New Hampshire, US) in 2021/2022, with main lay installation operations scheduled for the summer of 2022. The system is expected to be ready for service (RFS) by the end of 2023.

NO-UK Com, Altibox Carrier and Xtera have announced that the marine installation of the NO-UK submarine cable system between Stavanger (Norway) and Newcastle (UK) has commenced, after the successful acquisition of all the necessary permits in Norway and the UK last month. The new 700km system – featuring eight cable pairs with a capacity of up to 216Tbps – is expected to be RFS by the end of 2021. It will be part of a larger European fibre network established by Altibox Carrier, called Euroconnect-1, that will ensure robust and state-of-the-art digital infrastructure. The NO-UK consortium comprises Altibox Carrier, Haugaland Kraft, BKK, Ryfylke IKS, Green Mountain, Polysys and Hatteland Group.

PEACE Cable International Network and PCCW Global will deploy Infinera’s ICE6 optical engine solution on the Mediterranean Segment of the Pakistan & East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) submarine cable system. The optical engine solution will provide the PEACE submarine cable system with the ability to transmit record-breaking capacity of nearly 25Tbps per fibre pair, while laying the foundation for enhanced service scalability, flexibility, and future differentiation. Phase 1 of the PEACE project (spanning 12,000km) will link France to Pakistan through a single landing point in the city of Marseille (France) using the Europe-Asia route, and to the city of Mombasa (Kenya) via a short route towards the Indian Ocean that will be expanded to South Africa via the PEACE South extension under Phase 2, reaching a total length of 15,000km. The system is slated to enter operations in Q4 2021.

The Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable consortium has announced an increase in the total design capacity of the entire ACE submarine cable system from 12.8Tbps to 20Tbps. When the ACE submarine cable entered service in 2012, it had an initial design capacity of 5.12Tbps using 40Gbps technology; in January 2015 Alcatel-Lucent (now part of Nokia) and the ACE consortium successfully completed a field trial using 300Gbps and 400Gbps technology, demonstrating a more than five-fold increase in the system’s design capability. The ACE system currently covers a total distance of 17,000km and connects 20 countries.

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has altered two eligibility conditions for its project to deploy a 1,900km submarine cable system between Kochi and Lakshadweep Islands, following complaints from domestic companies to the telecoms ministry that the global tender favoured international participation, News18 writes. The two revisions involve the reduction of the requirement of cumulative turnover of last three financial years to INR6 billion (USD82 million), down from INR14 billion previously, and a requirement for the bidder to have executed at least two projects with a length of 1,000km and depth of 2,000 metres (previously two projects within the last twelve years with a length of 1,000km and depth of 3,000 metres). The INR10.72 billion Kochi-Lakshadweep Islands (KLI) submarine cable connectivity project will see the deployment of a dedicated submarine fibre-optic cable – with an initial capacity of 200Gbps – between Kochi and eleven islands of India’s smallest Union Territory Lakshadweep (an archipelago comprising 36 islands in the Laccadive Sea) – Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kiltan and Kadmat. The project was approved by the Cabinet in December 2020 and is expected to be completed by May 2023.

Batelco has selected Ciena to upgrade the Batelco Gulf Network (BGN). The 1,400km BGN system, which was launched in 2018, is a protected terrestrial network connecting the GCC to the Middle East and beyond through a single network, owned and managed by Batelco. The BGN cable system has the capability to support up to 17.6Tbps through its main and protected routes. The recent upgrade has doubled the available capacity to meet the future demands for global data transmission, while enabling more flexibility in managing interconnections. Commenting on the upgrade, Azz-Eddine Mansouri, General Manager at Ciena Middle East, said: ‘Demand for over-the-top (OTT) services and high-speed content continues to surge from consumers and businesses across the GCC. Batelco’s recent BGN upgrade with Ciena, a networking systems, services and software company, plays a pivotal role in meeting these connectivity needs and in helping to improve the digital experiences for subscribers in the region.’

Mexico-based Marcatel is leveraging Ciena’s coherent optical technology to support a new network connecting Queretaro (Mexico) to McAllen (Texas, US). The network, which serves content delivery providers and wholesale carriers, allows Marcatel to offer low-latency, high-capacity data centre interconnect (DCI) services at speeds up to 600Gbps across long distances. Marcatel installed Ciena’s 6500 photonic line system and Waveserver 5 powered by WaveLogic 5 Extreme for multi-terabit capacity across a long-haul coherent optical network of more than 1,000km, thus providing high fibre capacity without regeneration. Gustavo M. de la Garza Flores, CEO of Grupo Marcatel, said: ‘Marcatel has long been a pioneer in the networking industry in Mexico, and we’re again raising the bar with the first network in the country to carry 600G waves for long-haul distances.’

Juniper Networks and NEC Corporation have announced that they have worked with South Africa’s fixed-wireless service provider HeroTel to enable the country’s first commercial network to deploy segment routing as part of a significant network upgrade initiative. HeroTel has now consolidated 19 separate networks and operating frameworks into a single architecture, in support of its simplification and cost-control programme, having acquired 40 different service providers between 2018 and 2020.

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Argentina, Brazil, France, India, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Altibox (incl. Lyse Tele), Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco), Ciena Corporation, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Google (Alphabet), HeroTel, Juniper Networks, Marcatel, NEC, Nokia Networks (formerly NSN), PCCW Global, SubCom, Xtera