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

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19 Nov 2021

Jersey-based investment company 3i Infrastructure has agreed to pay USD512 million to acquire a 100% stake in Global Cloud Xchange (GCX). GCX provides high-bandwidth connectivity to a range of blue-chip customers including hyperscalers, telecoms operators, new media providers and enterprises. Its 66,000km of cables span 46 countries from North America to Asia, with a particularly strong position on the Europe-Asia and Intra-Asia routes. The following five submarine cables are operated by GCX: FLAG Atlantic-1 (FA-1), FALCON, * FLAG Europe-Asia (FEA), * FLAG North Asia Loop/REACH North Asia Loop and HAWK. Completion of the transaction is conditional upon certain regulatory approvals and is expected in the middle of 2022.

CrossChannel Fibre has completed the landing of the first UK-to-France subsea cable in the English Channel for more than 20 years. The company, which is owned by Crosslake Fibre of Toronto, landed the 155km cable at the French seaside resort of Veules-Les-Roses in Normandy late last week. The cable connects an Equinix data centre in Slough with Equinix and Interxion data centres to the north-west of Paris. The terrestrial components of the cable run from Slough to Brighton and from Veules-Les-Roses to Paris. Fergus Innes, senior VP of Crosslake Fibre, told Capacity Media that the cable’s first customers will receive service from 1 December.

Openserve, the infrastructure unit of Telkom South Africa, has been selected as the landing partner for Google’s planned Equiano submarine cable, which is expected to be ready for service (RFS) in 2022. Openserve will utilise its submarine cable landing station at Melkbosstrand and offer terrestrial services connecting the cable landing to South African carrier-neutral data centres. Equiano will link Lisbon in Portugal to Cape Town in South Africa, via Lagos (Nigeria), Muanda (DRC) and Swakopmund (Namibia), with an additional spur connecting Rupert’s Bay on the island of Saint Helena. The new system, which is being deployed by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), will be Google’s fourth private cable, following the deployment of Junior (2018), Curie (2020) and Dunant (2021).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted a 180-day special temporary authority (STA) to Neutral Networks to construct, land and operate within the US a private fibre-optic submarine cable network, known as the Neutral Networks Laredo Cable (NNLC), connecting Laredo, Texas (US) and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas (Mexico). The STA is valid until 16 May 2022. 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. Neutral Networks will operate NNLC on a non-common-carrier basis, providing fibre-optic-related solutions to carrier and enterprise customers on particularised terms and conditions pursuant to individualised negotiation. Neutral Networks intends to commence commercial operation of the NNLC system no later than January 2022.

Sticking with the FCC, the US watchdog has been notified that Google and Facebook have been granted additional time (14 days) to provide responses to the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector in relation to their application for a licence to land and operate within US territory the Echo cable system, a private fibre-optic submarine cable network aiming to connect California, Guam, Singapore and Indonesia. Under the updated timeframe, the 120-day initial review period can begin on or before 3 December 2021. The Echo cable will run from Eureka, California (US) to Changi North in Singapore and will feature two additional branches to Agat and Piti (Guam), with plans to also land in Tanjung Pakis in Indonesia. Echo will provide 12Tbps of capacity per fibre pair, with the 16,206km main trunk comprising twelve fibre pairs. The two 372km branches to Guam (BU1 and BU2) will each feature twelve fibre pairs, while the 234km branching unit to Indonesia (BU3) will consist of four fibre pairs. The system is being developed in partnership with XL Axiata; it is due to be completed in Q3 2023.

Iraq-based ISP Earthlink Telecommunications has selected Nokia to build a high-capacity IP metro transport network in 15 provinces in the country, as part of the Iraqi National Backbone project. As part of the initiative, Nokia will set up 60 new nodes – one in each exchange. After the deployment, which should conclude by year-end, Earthlink says it will be able to cost-effectively provide high speed broadband to 3.5 million people. Further, the new 100G network capacity can be easily upgraded to 400G as and when required.

Nokia and Orange have announced the completion of a network trial using the Nokia PSE-V. Orange and Nokia demonstrated an error-free performance at a data rate of 600Gbps over a 914km network between Paris and Biarritz, under ‘challenging live network conditions’. With this field trial, Orange has successfully validated a planned upgrade of its long-haul backbone networks to support new high-bandwidth 400Gbps services, and the ability to scale fibre capacity up to 600Gbps.

G8 Telecommunications (G8) has deployed Infinera’s GX Series Compact Modular Platform on its DWDM network to increase network capacity to meet the growing needs of enterprises, network operators and government companies across Brazil. G8 operates long-haul and regional networks in Brazil and has a presence in states such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Goias, Minas Gerais and Bahia.

French vendor Ekinops has been awarded a contract to upgrade the backbone network of French Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider IKOULA. IKOULA notes that it has been using Ekinops equipment for its core network for over ten years, connecting data centres in Reims and Eppes and an internet PoP in Paris. IKOULA will use the Ekinops PM 200FRS02 200G FlexRate coherent line card to upgrade its infrastructure.

Finally, CyrusOne, KKR and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) have announced a definitive agreement pursuant to which KKR and GIP will acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of CyrusOne for USD90.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately USD15 billion, including the assumption of debt. The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the CyrusOne Board of Directors, is not subject to a financing condition and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by CyrusOne stockholders. CyrusOne is a premier REIT specialising in design, construction and operation of more than 50 high-performance data centres worldwide.

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