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

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17 Sep 2021

Google’s Grace Hopper submarine cable has arrived at Bude, Cornwall (UK), following its landing at Telxius Cable Landing Station (CLS) in Sopelana (Spain) earlier this month. Grace Hopper will consist of a main trunk from Lumen’s existing landing station in New York (US) to its landing facility in Bude (UK), and a branch connecting a single branching unit on the main trunk to the existing landing facility in Bilbao. The main trunk will have a total length of 6,354km and will consist of 16 fibre pairs, while the Spain Branch will stretch 837km featuring 16 fibre pairs. Each fibre pair will have a total design capacity of approximately 22Tbps (for a total design capacity of approximately 352Tbps). Subject to authorisation, Google plans to commence commercial operations over the system in 2022.

HMN Tech has announced that the Hainan to Hong Kong Express (H2HE) cable system has successfully completed the commissioning and testing phases and is now certified ready for service (RFS). The 16-fibre pair repeatered system, featuring a design capacity of 96×200Gbps channels or 19.2Tb per fibre, connects Hainan Province, Guangdong Province and Hong Kong SAR, with a total length of 675km. Ma Yanfeng, Executive Vice President at HMN Tech, said: ‘We are delighted to partner with forward-thinking customers such as China Mobile, to successfully deliver the first 16 fibre pair submarine cable system that is a milestone in the industry. HMN Tech remains committed to developing reliable innovative technology that not only enhances our value proposition but also promotes industry evolution and accelerates the world’s digital transformation.’

The Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) has approved the draft contract for construction and maintenance of a third submarine cable, which is slated for landing at Cox’s Bazar. The BSCCL also agreed to sign a supply contract with the contractor selected by the SeaMeWe-6 consortium. The project will be funded by the government and BSCCL, with the state earmarking BDT3.92 billion (USD45.2 million) for the connection, while the state-back submarine operator will invest BDT3.0 billion. The project is scheduled for completion in 2025. Bangladesh was first connected to an international submarine system when the SeaMeWe-4 landed on its shores in 2006, while its connection to a second cable – the SeaMeWe-5 – was activated in 2018.

Breda Financial and Capital Investment & Asset Management Group (CIAM) have executed an agreement with Ocean Networks (ONI) to invest in the construction of the Caribbean Express (CX) submarine cable system, by providing 100% of the required equity financing to bring the CX project to contract in force with the system supplier. Additionally, the companies will create a platform to develop submarine cable systems globally. The CX system – to be managed and operated by ONI – will have 18 fibre pairs utilising SDM technology. Initially the 3,472km system will connect West Palm Beach (Florida), Balboa (Panama), Cancun (Mexico), and Cartagena (Colombia). The system is designed for future connectivity to the Bahamas, Guatemala, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. The cable is estimated to be RFS certified in Q2 2024.

Ocean Specialists (OSI) has announced the successful installation of a submarine fibre-optic network serving an offshore oil offloading buoy in the Caribbean Sea for a key energy client in Colombia. OSI’s project management role included the design and engineering of the submarine and terrestrial cable segments, including selection and procurement of system elements, installation planning and design and oversight of implementation and commissioning support. The subsea cable provides high bandwidth and redundant communications to the buoy from an onshore control room. The submarine and terrestrial cables were provided by Sweden-based Hexatronic.

GlobalConnect has embarked on a project to deploy a ‘mega capacity’ fibre-optic cable from the northern part of Sweden to Berlin (Germany). The project will primarily cater to GlobalConnect’s wholesale business, GlobalConnect Carrier, targeting tech giants with high capacity needs, carriers and system integrators. The new backbone network will handle ‘three million times more data than standard cables commonly used to connect private households’, the company claimed. GlobalConnect Carrier boasts access to more than 84,000km of fibre, 3,300 access nodes, and more than 27,000 square metres of space in 16 data centres. The company plans to finalise the project within twelve months.

The Australian Federal Police has arrested the Master of the Maersk Surabaya container ship for allegedly engaging in negligent conduct that led to the recent damage of the Australia-Singapore Cable (ASC) submarine system, which was cut on 1 August 2021 ‘around 18km from the Perth landing station’. The fault was experienced within the Perth protection zone; damaging a cable or undertaking restricted activities inside a protection zone is a criminal offence that carries fines and/or jail terms.

GEANT has completed a live network trial of 800G transmission on its pan-European production network. Powered by Infinera’s ICE6 800G coherent technology on the GX Series Compact Modular Platform, the trial demonstrated the ability of GEANT’s network to increase capacity and scale ‘significant amounts of bandwidth’ to meet the needs of the research community.

South Korean telco KT Corp (KT) has completed the acquisition of Epsilon Telecommunications. Under the terms of the deal, KT – along Daishin Private Equity (Daishin PE), a subsidiary of Daishin Securities – agreed to buy 100% of Singapore-based Epsilon from Malaysia-based multinational conglomerate Kuok Group for KRW170 billion (USD145 million). Following the completion of the deal, KT now holds a 58% stake in Epsilon, while Daishin PE owns the remaining 42%. Epsilon has more than 260 PoPs across 41 cities in 20 countries and operates three data centres in London, New York and Singapore, as well as a suite of connectivity solutions spanning cloud connectivity, Ethernet (DCI), remote peering, access, SD-WAN, colocation and voice.

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Australia, Bangladesh, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Panama, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL), Epsilon Telecommunications, Google (Alphabet), HMN Tech (formerly Huawei Marine), Infinera, IP-Only/GlobalConnect, KT Corp, Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink), Telxius