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

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8 Oct 2021

NEC Corporation has been contracted by Facebook to build an ultra-high performance transatlantic subsea fibre-optic cable connecting the US and Europe. The submarine system will be using NEC’s newly developed 24 fibre-pair cable and repeaters; the new cable is slated to deliver a maximum transmission capacity of a half Petabit per second, the highest to-date for a long distance repeatered optical subsea cable system.

Galapagos Cable Systems (GCS) and Xtera have announced that the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract for the turnkey deployment of the Galapagos Cable System between mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands has now been signed. The 1,280km system has been developed by GCS, in close cooperation with Ecuador’s Corporacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT). The contract triggers the project execution which starts with the permitting and design phase and the marine survey, which is already scheduled to follow in early 2022. The submarine cable will connect Manta-Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal; Port Ayora on Santa Cruz; and Port General Villamil on Isla Isabela. The cable, which is expected to go live in Q2 2023, will have a full design capacity of 20Tbps. Xtera will perform the design and construction works utilising its next generation SDM repeater; the cable will be supplied by Prysmian/NSW and marine installation activities will be performed by IT International Telecom.

Hong Kong-registered PEACE Cable International Network will deploy the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe Cable (PEACE Cable) system at iColo’s data centre (MBA1) in Mombasa (Kenya). MBA1 has more than 40 connectivity providers and multiple internet exchanges. Phase 1 of the PEACE project (spanning 12,000km) will link France to Pakistan through a single landing point in the city of Marseille (France) using the Europe-Asia route, and to the city of Mombasa (Kenya) via a short route towards the Indian Ocean that will be expanded to South Africa via the PEACE South extension under Phase 2, reaching a total length of 15,000km. The system is slated to enter operations in Q4 2021. The 15,000km PEACE submarine cable will feature 16Tbps per fibre pair with 200Gbps per single wavelength.

The Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector is conducting two 120-day initial reviews of requests for transfer of control in cable landing licences. The first application was filled by Aqua Ventures Limited (AVL), Digital 9 Infrastructure, Aqua Comms (Americas) and America Europe Connect 2 USA to transfer control of interests in the cable landing licences for the AEC-1, Havfrue and Amitie submarine cable systems from AVL to Digital 9. Digital 9 has already acquired the non-US affiliates of the Aqua Comms Licensees; subject to receipt of US regulatory consents and clearances and satisfaction of other closing conditions, including FCC consent, the parties initially expected to consummate the reacquisition in the fourth quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, the second application was filled by Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) and Stonepeak’s newly established holding company Patagonia Holdco to transfer control of Global Crossing Americas Solutions (GCAS), CenturyLink Latin American Solutions (CLAS) and Level 3 Communications St. Croix to Patagonia Holdco. In July 2021 Lumen Technologies inked a definitive agreement to sell its Latin American business to New York-based alternative investment firm Stonepeak, in a deal worth USD2.735 billion. AustralianSuper, Australia’s largest pension fund, will act as a co-investor, alongside Stonepeak. Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Lumen will divest its Latin American business, which will operate as an independent, US-headquartered portfolio company of Stonepeak. The assets in question were acquired by CenturyLink in 2017, as part of its buyout of Level 3.

Zayo Group Holdings has completed three new US dark fibre long-haul routes. The routes, which feature all-underground construction, run from Atlanta to Dallas (822 miles), Denver to Salt Lake City (532 miles), and Eugene to Reedsport, Oregon (88 miles). The new Denver-Salt Lake City route also provides the final link in a larger fibre network chain between New York City and San Francisco. A number of other long-haul routes will be completed by the end of 2021, including Columbus (Ohio) to Ashburn (Virginia), Cleveland to Columbus and St. Louis to Indianapolis. A further two routes – from Columbus to Pittsburgh and from Umatilla (Oregon) to Reno (Nevada) – are planned for deployment in the first half of 2022.

NEC Corporation, its subsidiary OCC Corporation and Sumitomo Electric Industries have announced that they have completed the first trial of uncoupled 4-core submarine fibre cable and verified its transmission performance to meet the exacting demands of global telecommunications networks. The uncoupled 4-core fibre is being deployed within the OCC SC500 series LW (Lightweight) cable, which has a 17mm outer diameter and withstands 8,000m water depth. The cable can accommodate up to 32 fibres.

Facebook is exploring new ways to power submarine cable repeaters, with the company revealing the development of floating, solar-powered buoys that could be deployed along the cable routes. Dan Rabinovitsj, VP of Facebook Connectivity, said: ‘Subsea cables lay the foundation for the global internet connecting continents, and as we build more than 150,000km of them with our partners, we’re also working on new technologies that will enable floating, solar-powered buoys in the middle of the ocean to help these cables carry much greater volumes of data.’

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