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

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23 Jul 2021

Pacific Carriage Limited and Pioneer Consulting have commenced the Los Angeles landing of the trans-Pacific Southern Cross NEXT submarine cable system aiming to link Australia to the US. With overall project completion expected in early 2022, the USD350 million Southern Cross NEXT cable will provide 72Tbps of 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. Pioneer Consulting served as shipboard representatives on the project, supervising cable loading, freighter transfer, laying operations, post-lay inspection and burial and shore-end landings.

Submarine carrier Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) has abandoned its plan to build a 20Tbps cable from Europe to India and Singapore due to a lack of anchor tenant, GCX CEO Carl Grivner told Capacity. The previous management of GCX announced plans to deploy the EAGLE cable system in 2017, initially to carry 100Gbps from Sicily eastwards to Asia via four/six fibre pairs with initial design capacity of 12Tbps-24Tbps per fibre pair. The first section of the cable, spanning 7,750km, was aiming to connect Mumbai (India) with Hong Kong via Thailand, with branching units to a number of locations, including Singapore. The second section with a length of 8,900km was scheduled to link Mumbai via the Middle East to Italy, with landing points within the Mediterranean. In June 2018 GCX completed work on IDC-5, a new Indian data centre, in preparation for the EAGLE network, which by then had been upgraded to 20Tbps with terminations in Marseille and Singapore via Mumbai.

Global Marine has been awarded a five-year contract extension of the South East Asia and Indian Ocean Cable Maintenance Agreement (SEAIOCMA) until 31st December 2025. The SEAIOCMA zone agreement – a consortium managed by 46 cable owners – provides for the repair of submarine cables in the area between Djibouti in the west, Perth (Australia) in the south, Guam in the east and the northern tip of Taiwan. The zone is served by Global Marine’s cable maintenance vessel Cable Retriever. Global Marine has been providing maintenance services continuously to SEAIOCMA since its inception in 1986, completing more than 600 repairs; the fibre networks included within the zone have expanded from 34,000km to more than 120,000km.

The National Science Foundation has sponsored a three-day workshop exploring the cost of a potential deployment of a submarine cable from New Zealand or Australia to McMurdo Station at the southern tip of Ross Island, off the coast of Antarctica. The agency is also planning to start work on a desktop study as early as next month. Another project spearheaded by the Argentine, Chilean and Brazilian subsidiaries of Silica Networks is also in the works; in April 2021 the three units provided USD2 million in funding for a feasibility study of a submarine fibre-optic cable network to the Antarctic continent. Under the preliminary stage of the project, a fibre ring will be deployed linking Ushuaia in the Tierra del Fuego Province (Argentina) and Puerto Williams in the Antartica Chilena Province (Chile) via the Beagle Channel. The next stage will seek to connect the peninsula of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego with King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, with onward connectivity to mainland Antarctica.

The Asia America Gateway (AAG) undersea cable has been damaged just two days after being fixed. VnExpress cited an ISP representative as saying that the fault was detected on the SH1 branch around 107km off Vung Tau in southern Vietnam. The USD560 million AAG stretches more than 20,000km connecting Southeast Asia with the US, passing through Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Since its inception, the system has experienced numerous faults, the most recent one being in late June 2021 (with the cable rendered out of service until mid-July 2021).

Internet users in Seychelles are warned to expect interruptions in telecoms services until 25 July, due to planned maintenance work by the Seychelles Cable Systems Company. The company said that there is substantial signal degradation on the land sections of the Seychelles East Africa System (SEAS) connecting the main island Mahe to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, according to measurements conducted in May: ‘The cause of the degradation is a land joint in the beach manhole at Beau Vallon in Seychelles and a land joint in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The supplier Alcatel Submarine Networks [ASN] has confirmed that both joints have to be replaced as soon as possible as the signal is continuously degrading and it is highly probable that traffic will cease in a matter of a few months.’

The Ministers of Telecommunications and Communication of Cameroon and Gabon have inaugurated the interconnection of the digital transmission networks between the two countries in Meyo-Kye (Gabon), as part of the broader Central African Backbone (CAB) project, Cameroon-info.net writes. The 22km interconnection link via Kye-Ossi in Cameroon and Bitam (Gabon) offers a capacity of approximately 100Tbps. The infrastructure consists of a 96-strand G652 fibre-optic cable laid underground, with a joint box located on the River Ntem Bridge, which separates the two countries.

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Antarctica, Australia, Cameroon, Gabon, New Zealand, Seychelles, United States, Vietnam, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Global Cloud Xchange (formerly Reliance Globalcom), Global Marine Systems, Pacific Carriage Holding