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

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15 Oct 2021

Google has requested a special temporary authority (STA) to construct, connect, and test at its own risk those portions of the Grace Hopper cable system in US territory prior to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) grant of a pending cable landing licence application. Google claims that it needs expeditious authority to ensure that cable-laying activities in US territory may commence no later than 8 November 2021. 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.

The Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector is reviewing an application filed by Hawaiki Submarine Cable (HSC), HCL Limited and BW Digital for the transfer of control of HSC from HCL Limited to BW Digital. Pursuant to a deal inked in July 2021, BW Digital, an affiliate of BW Group, will acquire 100% of the shares of HSC for an undisclosed price. Launched in July 2018, the trans-Pacific Hawaiki system connecting New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and mainland US is a 15,000km fibre-optic carrier-neutral cable with a design capacity of 67Tbps.

Libya International Telecommunications Company (LITC) has completed the reactivation of the Silphium submarine cable linking Libya with Greece, the Libyan News Agency (LANA) writes. The cable was originally certified ready for service (RFS) in 2013, but the submarine cable landing station in the city of Derna was destroyed following bombings in August and October 2013. The 425km system connects Derna in Libya with Chania in Crete (Greece) and provides total capacity of 70Gbps. As part of the project, LITC also inaugurated its operating and control room, to support the operation and equipping of the Network Monitoring Center NOC/OSS, through eight main systems for operations and maintenance. Faisal Gergab, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Libyan Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Company (LPTIC) stated: ‘The completion of this project is a great success for the telecommunications sector and the strengthening of Libya’s strategic role regionally, and a key supporter of the country’s digital transformation plan that the holding company seeks to achieve during the coming period.’

PTI Pacifica has applied to the US FCC for a renewal of its cable landing licence for the MTC Interisland Cable System (MICS) in order to authorise the continued operation of the US domestic submarine cable for an additional 25-year term following the expiration date of the current licence on 13 February 2022. The MICS cable links the three most populated islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) – Saipan, Tinian, and Rota – with each other and with the nearby US Territory of Guam. MICS is a high capacity, fibre-optic system approximately 166.3 miles in length. MICS consists of twelve strands (six pairs of fibre) on all segments; system capacity has been upgraded three times since the cable went in service in 1997, with a current cumulative design capacity of 150Gbps. The MICS cable, including each of its CNMI cable landing points, is wholly-owned by PTI Pacifica. PTI Pacifica is seeking authority to operate the MICS cable on a non-common carrier basis, going forward.

Djibouti Telecom has started the construction of a Cable Landing Station (CLS) in Djibouti City. The new infrastructure will be a neutral digital port, which will provide an open access cable landing service to submarine cable operators for a neutral, safe and secure landing in Djibouti City. The neutral colocation centre will allow GAFAM or Cloud providers to host their servers closer to their African users. The new CLS is expected to be completed by April 2022.

A submarine cable fault on the Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) which was reported on 11 October near Fujairah, UAE has now been repaired. The Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) said in a social media post: ‘A submarine cable fault was reported yesterday near Fujairah, UAE due to which some users may have faced degradation in services. The faulty cable segment has been repaired and work is underway to make the services fully functional.’ A further two errors on the S1H branch of the AAE-1 submarine cable are scheduled to be fixed by 14 November. The 25,000km network – owned by a consortium of 19 global service providers – connects Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe. AAE-1 is described as ‘the longest 100Gbps technology-based submarine system’ and offers design capacity of over 40Tbps.

Infinera and Telstra have announced the deployment of Infinera’s coherent 800G solution across Telstra’s international network. The deployment follows an industry milestone that Telstra achieved with Infinera, leveraging Infinera’s ICE6 800G coherent technology on its GX Series Compact Modular Platform over a dispersion-managed subsea cable between Hong Kong and Singapore, a segment that spans 2,940km. With Infinera’s ICE6 solution, Telstra can realise a 45% increase in capacity over previous-generation technology and 20 times the original design capacity of the cable.

Lastly, UPIX Networks, a facility-based provider of last mile fibre in Brazil, has extended its fibre-optic network into NJFX, a carrier neutral CLS colocation campus in the US offering Tier 3 capabilities. UPIX’s network features over 25,000 miles of optical fibre, PoPs in more than ten countries, 400 connected cities and capacity from 10Mbps to 100Gbps per circuit.

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