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

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2 Jul 2021

The Southern Cross NEXT submarine cable – developed by Spark and Southern Cross Cables and aiming to link Australia to the US – has landed at Auckland’s Takapuna Beach. The 13,700km Southern Cross NEXT cable will provide 72Tbps of total design capacity between Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand) and the US, with additional connections to Fiji, Samoa, Tokelau and Kiribati. The cable features Alcatel Submarine Networks’ (ASN’s) WSS ROADM units and the latest generation of submarine repeaters and is designed to be adaptable to future technology developments. The system is expected to be completed in April 2022. Southern Cross CEO Laurie Miller said the new system will also expand the company’s network ecosystem and provide more solutions for customers: ‘The completion of NEXT will interconnect New Zealand to the world via an ecosystem of twelve cable stations and eight key data centre hubs in Australia and the US, spanning six countries and eight time zones all interconnected by over 45,000km of cable.’

The East Timorese government has announced the opening of an international public tender for the purchase and installation of a fibre-optic submarine cable linking East Timor to northern Australia, Macau Business writes. The tender comes after the government approved a project to deploy a fibre-optic submarine cable to Darwin and Port Hedland in November 2020. East Timorese Deputy Prime Minister Jose Reis disclosed that the estimated cost of ‘between USD40 million and USD60 million’ can be funded 100% by the East Timorese government, based on the transfer of a licence from Australia, or alternatively in a mixed model, with 80% of the cost from East Timor and 20% from Australia. Depending on the final options, the project could be concluded in September 2022 or mid-2023. The connection is based on a proposal submitted by Vocus Group, under which a 250km submarine cable could be deployed to interconnect East Timor to the 2,100km North West Cable System.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has added two vessels to its fleet, as part of a strategy to modernise and expand its installation capacities. The Ile de Molene ship will be assigned to maintain telecoms cable infrastructure in the Atlantic and North Sea and is expected to enter operations in the first half of 2022, while the Ile d’Yeu will join ASN’s installation fleet at the end of 2022 and will be tasked with the installation of a transoceanic telecommunications system.

The Malawi government has launched the second phase of the National Optic Fibre Backbone Project. Comprising of 2,800km, according to Xinhua, the second phase will be deployed by Huawei and will reach an additional 29 cities. The first phase of the National Optic Fibre Backbone Project was completed in January 2018, spanning 1,320km and expanding the existing aerial fibre-optic network deployed on the transmission network of the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM).

The Societe Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications (SCPT) has signed a contract with BENYA Capital facilitating the deployment of a 16,000km national fibre-optic backbone across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Previously, BENYA Holdings inked an agreement with the Ministry of Post, Telecommunications and New Information and Communication Technologies (Ministre des Postes, Telecommunications et Nouvelles Technologies de l’Information et de Communication, MINPTNTIC) to deploy the National Fibre Optic Network (NFON) in September 2020. According to a company press release, the two companies will implement the project in two phases: the first stage will see the rollout of the network, while the second will centre on its operation. To this effect, BENYA also signed a shareholders agreement with SCPT in April 2021 to establish a new local telecoms operator in DRC. SCPT currently operates a 600km fibre-optic backbone running from the capital Kinshasa to Muanda (the landing point of the WACS submarine cable), in addition to a 3,400km Kinshasa-Bandundu-Sakania link (stretching to the border with Zambia) and two metropolitan fibre rings (10Gbps and 40Gbps) in the city of Kinshasa.

Crosslake Fibre has revealed its latest connectivity on-ramp locations in two of New York’s major data centres. By establishing two new PoPs in these data centres, Crosslake has extended its Network Platform enabling customers to connect into its high-capacity routes from New York to major US cities and cross-border into Canada for connectivity to Toronto and Montreal.

Elsewhere, Nigerian ICT firm MainOne Cable Company is expanding its digital footprint in Ghana with the launch of a data centre located in Appolonia City. The 100-rack facility near Accra will be managed by MDXi, a subsidiary of MainOne, and will offer direct access to the 7,000km MainOne cable and other submarine cable systems in the area.

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Australia, Congo, Dem. Rep., Fiji, Ghana, Kiribati, Malawi, New Zealand, Samoa, Timor-Leste, Tokelau, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Crosslake Fibre, Huawei Technologies, MainOne Cable, Ministry of Post, Telecom and New ICT (MINPTNTIC), Societe Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications (SCPT), Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN), Spark, Vocus Group (incl. Commander, Dodo, iPrimus)