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

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5 Nov 2021

Hawaiki Submarine Cable (Hawaiki) has revealed plans to deploy the Hawaiki Nui submarine cable system, with the new infrastructure described as ‘the first and largest SDM cable connecting South-East Asia, Australasia and North America’. Spanning 22,000km in length and boasting a design capacity of 240Tbps, the system will provide end-to-end connectivity between the three main hubs of the Pacific region: Singapore, Sydney (Australia) and Los Angeles (US), with additional planned landings in Jakarta and Batam (both in Indonesia). In Australia, Hawaiki Nui will link Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin, while providing them with direct access to Singapore and Los Angeles (US). It will also be the first international cable to land in the South Island of New Zealand, linking Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill directly to Australia via a new and fully diverse subsea route. In addition, two branches will be built to connect Oahu and Big Island in Hawaii. Construction of the Hawaiki Nui system is due to start in 2022, with a tentative ready for service (RFS) date of 2025. Hawaiki, which is being acquired by the Singapore-based shipping company BW Digital, also disclosed that the takeover transaction, subject to regulatory filings and approvals, is due to be completed in early 2022.

In related news, Hawaiki has selected Indonesian telco PT Mora Telematika Indonesia (Moratelindo) as its partner for the Indonesian leg of the Hawaiki Nui system. Under the terms of the partnership, Moratelindo will serve as the Indonesian landing party and acquire all necessary permits and authorisations for the project in Indonesia. It will also support the design and deployment of the cable by defining the best submarine route and landings in Indonesia, as well as the provisioning of local terrestrial infrastructure for the landing of the submarine cable.

A new submarine cable project, the Intra-Asia Express – aiming to connect Japan to Malaysia and Singapore – is in the planning phase, writes citing Malaysia’s Transport Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong. The new subsea cable will extend from Japan to the Philippines before connecting to Kuching in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. The cable will consist of 16 to 20 fibre pairs and is expected to be owned and operated by a consortium of three or four carriers.

In the Philippines, Converge ICT Solutions has completed its PHP6 billion (USD118 million) domestic submarine cable project, which is aiming to connect the Visayas and Mindanao region to its national fibre-optic backbone. The ISP revealed that the 1,800km Converge Domestic Submarine Cable Network (CDSCN) – which is designed to link Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao with 22 landing stations via 48 fibre core optical cables running on 400G and 800G technology – made its final landing in Coron in Palawan on 31 October 2021. Converge Chief Executive Officer Dennis Anthony Uy said: ‘We’re pleased to announce the completion of our domestic network’s primary and secondary routes, which span the entirety of the country. Not only does this ensure availability of the service nationwide, but with the network design, we’re assured to have a resilient backbone that’s able to carry the tremendous data traffic driven by our million-plus customers.’ The company said Visayas and Mindanao were interconnected during Phase 1 of the rollout, via landings in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro, while Phase 2 saw connections established to Roxas City (Visayas) and Agusan del Norte (Mindanao). In October 2021 Converge announced the completion of its fibre-optic loop in North Luzon making its network in the region completely redundant.

The Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector is reviewing an application submitted by Neutral Networks for a licence to construct, land and operate within the US a private fibre-optic submarine cable network connecting Laredo, Texas (US) and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas (Mexico). The system will be known as the Neutral Networks Laredo Cable (NNLC). The NNLC will consist of three high-capacity, digital fibre-optic cables in a three-duct conduit encased in a pipe located beneath the riverbed of the Rio Grande between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. Neutral Networks intends to commence commercial operation of the NNLC system no later than January 2022.

Google has been granted a special temporary authority (STA) to construct, connect, and test at its own risk the portions of the Grace Hopper cable system located in the US territory. Google claimed that it needed 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.

Joint venture (JV) partners Strathcona Regional District and CityWest have announced that the construction phase of the Connected Coast project has begun. The CAD45.4 million (USD36.4 million) Connected Coast project, funded by the federal and provincial governments and co-managed by CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District, is a 3,400km submarine cable aiming to bring high-speed internet accessibility to 139 rural and remote coastal communities, including 48 Indigenous communities – representing 44 First Nations – along the British Columbia (BC) coast from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island. First announced in 2018, the project’s agreements were finalised in early 2020, followed by ‘an extensive permitting and review process’. The main contractor for the project, Baylink Networks, was announced in September 2020.

A tentative project to connect Greece with the Middle East and potentially East Asia via the installation of a data transmission cable was reportedly discussed during a visit of Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Saudi Arabia, reports. The plan envisions interconnecting Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, with the possibility of extending the cable infrastructure to Singapore and Malaysia. If the plan goes ahead, it would be the first submarine and terrestrial data cable to connect the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

BTG Pactual Infraestrutura II Fundo de Investimento em Participacoes (BTG FIP Infraestrutura), its indirect, wholly owned subsidiary GlobeNet Cabos Submarinos America (GlobeNet) and BTG Pactual InfraCo Master Fundo de Investimento em Participacoes Multiestrategia (BTG New Fund) have applied for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) consent to transfer control of GlobeNet, including its GlobeNet cable system operated under the Atlantica-1 cable licence, from BTG FIP Infraestrutura to BTG New Fund. The parties have entered into a series of agreements pursuant to which in a series of related transactions, BTG New Fund will acquire control of GlobeNet and other telecommunications infrastructure network assets located in Brazil and currently owned and operated by Oi.

stc and Infinera have inked an agreement for the deployment of Infinera’s ICE6 800G-capable technology and GX Series Compact Modular Platform on stc’s submarine cable networks, enabling new regional and international connectivity services. This project will expand stc’s international network, while increasing the capacity of the international network ten-fold based on initial design capacity. Mohammed A. Alabbadi, Chief Wholesale Officer at stc, said: ‘ICE6 will also enable the expansion and diversification of cloud services in the region and around the world, and this technology is ideal for our upcoming projects 2Africa and Saudi Vision Cable.’ The in-deployment 2Africa subsea fibre-optic cable – expected to be ready for service by late 2023 – will interconnect Europe (via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and 16 countries in Africa (via 21 landings), while the Saudi Vision Cable will facilitate multi-terabit connection to the Northwestern region of Saudi Arabia via Neom (a planned cross-border city in the Tabuk Province) and onwards to Jordan; the cable will have four landings, in Jeddah, Yanbu, Duba, and Haq.

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Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Palestinian Territory, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United States, Converge ICT Solutions, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), GlobeNet Cabos Submarinos, Google (Alphabet), Hawaiki Cable, Infinera, Lumen Technologies (incl. Quantum Fiber/CenturyLink), Neutral Networks, Oi, Saudi Telecom Company (stc)