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

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21 Jan 2022

An application filed by Google and Facebook for a licence to construct, 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, has been granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 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 16,026km 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.

AT&T Corp has submitted an application to the FCC for the renewal of the operating concession for the St. Thomas-St. Croix System for an additional 25-year term. The cable – comprising twelve fibre pairs – links Magens Bay (St Thomas) to Butler Bay (St Croix) in the US Virgin Islands, interconnecting with the Americas-1, Columbus-II and Taino-Carib cable networks to provide connectivity to the US mainland, other Caribbean islands and Central and South America. The 113km cable has operated for 25 years (pursuant to the cable landing licence granted in 1997) and has been upgraded multiple times by 2020 in order to provide more than 600Gbps of cumulative available capacity.

The Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic (CAR) have started construction works on a sub-river fibre-optic cable connecting the two countries. Congo’s Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy Leon Juste Ibombo said: ‘We have come to launch the construction works of the fibre-optic network between Congo and CAR, knowing that a large part of the border between the two countries is under water.’ The 285km system, deployed by China Communications Services International and Huawei, will run along the riverbeds of the Congo River and Ubangi River from Brazzaville (Congo) to Bangui (CAR). Construction works are scheduled to take seven months. The interconnection of Congo to the CAR is part of phase two of the backbone project, which aims to interconnect the countries of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) with fibre.

CVTelecom has revealed that the transatlantic Atlantis-2 submarine cable system has now been decommissioned. The system – connecting Argentina, Brazil, Senegal, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands and Portugal – was built in 1999 and entered commercial service in February 2000. The 8,500km cable provided capacity of 40Gbps.

Digicel has revealed that the CS Reliance cable repair ship is undertaking ‘a full fault assessment’ following two cable faults in Tonga caused by the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano. The company said: ‘A preliminary technical fault investigation has established that there are two separate undersea cable breaks. The first between TCL cable landing station Sopu, Tongatapu and FINTEL cable landing station in Suva, Fiji. The international cable break is approximately 37km offshore from Tonga. The second cable break is on the domestic cable which is near the area of the recent volcanic activity.’ The 827km Tonga Cable between Tonga and Fiji (certified ready for service [RFS] in August 2013) interconnects with the Southern Cross Cable, while the 410km Tonga Domestic Cable Extension (TDCE) links Neiafu to Nuku’alofa and Pangai.

The Japanese government is planning to build a number of new data centres across the county and decentralise landing bases for submarine cables in order to diversify landing points, Data Centre Dynamics writes. Most of Japan’s landing stations are currently concentrated in Kitaibaraki (Ibaraki Prefecture), Minamiboso (Chiba Prefecture) and Shima (Mie Prefecture). Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reportedly included the establishment of a JPY50 billion (USD440 million) fund for the establishment of landing bases in rural areas in the supplementary budget for 2021. The PM said: ‘We will complete a “Digital Garden City Superhighway” surrounding Japan in roughly three years, using underwater cables. By bringing together large-scale data centres established in each local area, optical fibre, and 5G, we will make it possible to use high-speed, large-capacity digital services anywhere in Japan, coast to coast … We will, over approximately the next five years, set up more than a dozen regional data centre hubs.’

International data network services firm Telia Carrier has rebranded as Arelion after its change of ownership last year. The firm was sold by Sweden’s Telia Company to Polhem Infra in a SEK9.45 billion (USD1.04 billion) deal which completed in June. Arelion operates a 70,000km optical backbone network that reaches 125 countries in North America, Europe and Asia.

EXA Infrastructure has commenced a two-year overpull upgrade of its pan-European networks, in collaboration with Corning Incorporated. The first project saw 300km of backbone network in Spain – on a route from the French border via Barcelona toward Valencia – renewed with hybrid cable.

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