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

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26 Nov 2021

Google has been granted a licence to construct, land and operate the Grace Hopper cable system, a non-common carrier fibre-optic submarine cable system connecting the US with the UK and Spain. Grace Hopper will feature 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). Google plans to commence commercial operations over the system in 2022.

Equinix has revealed that its Perth PE2 and Muscat MC1 data centres will act as ‘strategic interconnection points’ at both ends of the 9,800km Oman Australia Cable (OAC) system. Once completed, the OAC will be the only submarine cable directly connecting continental Australia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) by directly linking Muscat in Oman to Perth (Australia). TeleGeography notes that the Marine Route Survey for the OAC system commenced in October 2020 and was completed in February 2021. In Australia, the Perth cable landing infrastructure construction commenced in October 2020 and was completed later in December; the works included an additional seaward facing duct installed for maintenance and possible future cable installation. The cable – developed by the Bevan Slattery-backed SUB.CO – landed in Perth in July 2021. The next phase will see the cable land on Cocos (Keeling) Islands in Q4 2021, with onward installation to Oman scheduled to be completed in Q1 2022; the entire system is due to be certified ready for service (RFS) in Q2 2022. The OAC cable will also connect to the INDIGO cable system as part of a new ‘Great Southern Route’ between the US, Australia and EMEA.

The EllaLink submarine system linking Europe and Latin America is now available at Equinix’s International Business Exchange (IBX) data centres in Sao Paulo (Brazil, SP4), Lisbon (Portugal, LS1) and Madrid (Spain, MD2). The PoPs are connected to the EllaLink landing site in Sines, and onwards, over two diverse terrestrial routes. Further, a low latency link was established to connect to the Equinix data centres, avoiding the traditional subsea route via North America and significantly reducing round trip delay. The new system provides a 50% increase in network performance between the data centres when compared to routes that had to previously transit through North America.

Telecom Egypt has deployed Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optical technology to maximise capacity along the Mediterranean segment of Telecom Egypt’s Middle East North Africa (MENA) submarine cable system and Egypt’s mesh network. Telecom Egypt also utilises Ciena’s Manage, Control, and Plan (MCP) next-generation domain controller that unifies network and service management to automate the submarine network’s operations. Additionally, the embedded real-time network monitoring enables the creation of a new breed of network that can accommodate unpredictable traffic demands and optimise capacity across any path.

WIOCC has completed a USD200 million debt and equity capital raise which will be used to expand its connectivity within Africa and internationally. As well as introducing a new investor into the company, the capital will be used to support WIOCC’s expansion strategy across Africa and accelerate its investment in enhancing the continent’s digital infrastructure. In addition, via Open Access Data Centres (OADC) – a newly created WIOCC Group company – the firm is aiming to launch a network of pan-African data centres. Strategic investments in the new Equiano and 2Africa international submarine systems will augment and complement WIOCC’s existing core network infrastructure, adding multi-Tbps of capacity and ‘significantly increasing its options for delivering the high-availability solutions demanded in markets across Africa’. WIOCC’s terrestrial strategy, which includes deployment of metro and national networks in key locations, will be extended to include new countries and metropolitan areas, increasing its portfolio of end-to-end solutions for clients across Africa.

International network service provider RETN has announced new upgrades of its fully owned and operated TRANSKZ terrestrial DWDM system linking Europe and Asia. The company is deploying a new route in Asia, from Dostyk in Kazakhstan to Beijing (China), which allows RETN to provide services with much lower latencies and greatly improved performance between Europe and mainland China; the route has a round-trip time of 112.08 milliseconds. Tony O’Sullivan, RETN CEO, added: ‘In addition to the new route, RETN is increasing accessibility to TRANSKZ in Asia, Europe, and Russia by opening new PoPs along the route. With this new PoP in Beijing, enterprises can accelerate the performance of their WAN linking their locations in Europe and Russia with those in Beijing directly and securely.’

UK’s independent full fibre provider CityFibre has deployed its first 800Gbps backbone wavelength in partnership with Ciena, as part of its plan to build a national, multi-terabit, DWDM network that will reach up to eight million premises in the UK. The initial 800Gbps wavelength serves 23 cities and towns and connects six ‘super core’ sites in 2021, with the first ring connecting Leicester, Peterborough, Cambridge, London, Milton Keynes and Northampton. This will be followed with two further rings, providing the same enhanced core capacity between Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Bristol, Coventry and London, with an additional 90 locations due to be added before the end of 2023. Once complete, CityFibre will own and operate a high availability, fully scalable backbone, enabled by Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme programmable 800G coherent optics, 6500 Reconfigurable Line System (RLS) and Manage, Control, Plan (MCP) intelligent domain controller.

T-Mobile Polska has selected a coherent optical solution from Ciena for its 800G network. Leveraging Ciena’s technology, T‑Mobile Polska will offer a new long-distance 400GbE service to its enterprise, content provider and wholesale customers, to address exponential traffic growth brought on by omnipresent remote work, learning, and entertainment.

Tanzania’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ashatu Kijaji has disclosed that plans are underway to expand the National Information Communication and Technology Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), News Ghana writes. The official was cited as saying earlier this week: ‘We are in talks with the Congolese authorities on our intentions of expanding to the country’. At present, the country’s national fibre-optic network stretches 8,319km and connects 21 regional capitals, with onward connections to Burundi, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Mozambique. Going forward, the government is aiming to expand the infrastructure to 15,000km by 2023.

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Australia, China, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Oman, Poland, Spain, Tanzania, United Kingdom, United States, Ciena Corporation, CityFibre (incl. FibreNation), Equinix, Google (Alphabet), Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink), RETN, T-Mobile Poland, Telecom Egypt, West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC)