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

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6 Aug 2021

The Indian government has approved Datawave Networks’ International Long Distance (ILD) Telecommunications Licence, with Mark Wickham, CEO of Datawave Networks, stating that the new concession paves the way for the Singapore India Gateway (SING) cable system to finalise contracts and commence construction. In March 2021 the executive provided an update on the progress of the system, claiming that the cable remains ‘firmly on track’ for its 2023 delivery, adding that Datawave Networks has locked in its project financing for the SING cable and has completed several key steps to meet its ready for service (RFS) timelines including completion of the Desk Top Study (DTS) – awarded to Global Marine in September 2020 – and securing commitments from anchor customers. The SING system design is currently being finalised to meet its partners and customers specific networks requirements before construction commences later this year. The 9,000km system – first announced in April 2020 – is aiming to connect Singapore and Mumbai and Chennai in India, with additional branches to Thailand, Indonesia and Oman. The system will feature Space Division Multiplexing (SDM) amplifier design and WSS ROADM technology and will offer at least 18Tbps per fibre pair between each PoP.

The production of the fibre cabling for a new submarine fibre-optic cable in the Arctic, called Polar Express has now commenced at a new plant in Murmansk, the Barent Observer writes. The 12,650km Transarctic line will comprise a terrestrial route from Murmansk to Teriberka, from where the first submarine trunk will cross the Barents Sea to Amderma in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The system will traverse along the Northern Sea Route, before the line is extended to Petropavlovsk-Kamcharsky and Yuzhno-Sakalinsk on the Pacific coast. The final stop in Russia is currently planned as Vladivostok, though connections could be added to other East Asian countries in the future. UPT, which is tasked with the development of the project, will invest RUB65 billion (USD872 million) in the deployment. Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Alexander Poshivay revealed that a total of 150 optical repeaters will be installed along the cable route. The Polar Express cable will consist of six fibre pairs: four pairs will be used for the transit of traffic from Europe to Asia, and two for ‘going ashore’. The total transmission speed of the cable is scheduled to reach up to 104Tbps, with a project completion date currently set for 2026.

Australian operator Vocus has revealed that the Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) has suffered faults in multiple locations at challenging depths. The breaks occurred on 1 August 2021, around 18km from the Perth cable landing station. The company is currently working to fix the issue in a timely manner, though it said: ‘Weather and swell predicted in the coming days may present challenges for the planned Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) launch and visibility whilst working within proximity to other critical infrastructure.’

Sparkle, the international service provider of TIM Group, has selected Infinera’s ICE6 800G-capable coherent technology to enhance its new Mediterranean and European Optical Backbone, dubbed Nibble. Deploying Infinera’s ICE6 solution will enable Sparkle to launch new 400GbE services over its existing infrastructure while boosting its network capacity by up to 54%, as demonstrated in a recent trial on two of Sparkle’s major routes in Italy. Sparkle successfully completed a trial deploying Infinera’s ICE6 technology on live links from Catania to Milan and from Rome to Milan, achieving wavelength speeds of 500Gbps across 2,136km and 700Gbps over 858km, respectively. Infinera and Sparkle plan to deploy 800G channels along other routes on the Sparkle network.

Gulf Bridge International (GBI) and Equinix are establishing a new deployment for GBI at the Equinix data centre in Oman. GBI’s new presence at Equinix MC1 International Business Exchange (IBX) in Muscat will enhance both its IP Transit and Cloud Connect products, while providing customers with improved connectivity throughout the Middle East and onwards.

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has revealed that 1,600km of optical fibre has been installed across the country under the Optical Fibre Backbone Network Expansion Project. The NTA initiated the project back in 2012 with a goal of expanding the optical fibre network within two years, but only 46.16% of work had been completed by mid-July 2021. Nepal Telecom (NT) signed a deal in September 2016 to act as the primary contractor for the work in Provinces 1, 2 and 3, and similar contracts were later signed with UTL in April 2017 for Provinces 4 (Gandaki) and 5, and Smart Telecom in September 2017 for Provinces 6 (Karnali) and 7. The NTA cancelled Smart and UTL’s contracts in 2019 after the two companies failed to make any meaningful progress, and in October that year awarded additional responsibility for Provinces 6 and 7 to NT (the authority is yet to appoint a new developer for Provinces 4 and 5).

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