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

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25 Jun 2021

Nauru is negotiating its potential connection to an Australian network via a submarine cable, Reuters writes citing two sources with knowledge of the talks. The Pacific island nation has now approached the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help fund the project: ‘ADB is involved in very early discussions with the government of Nauru to explore possible options to help fund an undersea cable to deliver low-cost, high quality internet service. The details of the connection arrangement and funding sources will be determined in due course.’ The new plan would involve laying a 1,250km cable from Nauru to the capital of the Solomon Islands (Honiara), where it will interconnect with the 4,700km Coral Sea Cable System (CS²) linking the Solomon Islands with Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG). The CS² cable – majority funded by Australia and built by Sydney-headquartered Vocus Group – was certified ready for service (RFS) in February 2020. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in March 2021 the consortium aiming to deploy a submarine cable connecting the three Pacific nations of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati and Nauru informed all three bidders for the project that their applications had been ‘invalidated’ as they ‘did not meet the required conditions’. The move was reportedly sparked by the December 2020 warning from the US government regarding the security threat posed by the cut-price bid by HMN Tech (said to be 20% lower than the bids submitted by rival infrastructure providers).

AP&T Wireless (APTW), a subsidiary of Alaska Power & Telephone Company (AP&T), has revealed that the marine route survey for the SEALink submarine fibre-optic cable project has commenced. The project will comprise the deployment of local terrestrial networks which will provide high speed broadband access to all premises in Kasaan and Coffman Cove in Alaska by 2022, and the rollout of a 340km submarine fibre-optic cable between Prince of Wales Island (Petersburg) and Juneau in 2023. Alaska-based TerraSond will spend approximately 20 days surveying seafloor areas between Coffman Cove and south Mitkoff Island, and Petersburg and Juneau before developing a final submarine cable route and design. APTW is expected to select the final submarine cable route in August 2021. In October 2020 APTW was selected to receive a USD21.545 million grant via the USDA Rural Utility Service’s ReConnect grant programme, while AP&T will provide over USD7 million in matching funds.

Sparkle has announced the launch of Albania Crossing, the new direct route connecting Athens to Milan. Built in cooperation with ALBtelecom, the new operational fibre-optic link crosses Albania, the Bari-Durres submarine cable and the Italian backbone, establishing the shortest path from Athens to Milan with the possibility to reach all the other major hubs in Western Europe, thanks to Sparkle’s continental network. Albania Crossing is Sparkle’s sixth route connecting the south-eastern area of the Mediterranean basin to the rest of the world, in addition to the existing submarine ring and to the terrestrial fibre links through Sofia (Bulgaria), thus enabling the implementation of a robust and fully redundant connectivity.

Repairs to the Asia Africa Europe 1 (AAE-1) submarine fibre-optic cable will be delayed to 1 July with the system expected to be back in service on 7 July, according to the managing board of the cable. The cable infrastructure experienced a fault on the S1H.1 section on 25 May; repair work was initially scheduled to start on 22 June (and finish on 13 July). The 25,000km network – owned by a consortium of 19 global service providers – connects Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe. AAE-1 is described as ‘the longest 100Gbps technology-based submarine system’ and offers design capacity of over 40Tbps.

The World Bank has approved USD200 million financing for the new Uganda Digital Acceleration Project-GovNet (UDAP-GovNet). This project includes a USD49.6 million subcomponent which will support the extension of 1,000km of the national fibre backbone infrastructure and additional 500km of fibre-optic network links between towns.

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Albania, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Uganda, United States, ALBtelecom, HMN Tech (formerly Huawei Marine), Telecom Italia Sparkle, Vocus Group (incl. Commander, Dodo, iPrimus)