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

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18 Feb 2022

AFR-IX has awarded a contract to Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) for the supply and installation of the Medusa Submarine Cable System in the Mediterranean. AFR-IX CEO Norman Albi was quoted as saying: ‘We carried out a Request for Quote (RfQ) in February of last year, for the four global providers, NEC, Huawei Marine Networks (HMN), SubCom and ASN … We received a response from three of them and then by summertime we had entered into the best and final offer process. Following which we went through an extensive selection process that was based on both technical and commercial considerations.’ The two parties entered into exclusive negotiations at the end of 2021. The system will have a total length of 8,700km and will include 16 landing points in nine countries: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, France, Italy, Algeria, Tunisia, Greece and Egypt. It will feature 24 fibre pairs with design capacity of 20Tbps per fibre pair. The cable system will be operated on an open access basis, subject to local regulations. All Medusa Atlantic and West Mediterranean landings will be installed and operational by 2024, while the East Mediterranean landings will be ready for service (RFS) by 2025.

Japan’s ARTERIA Networks Corporation has joined Finnish company Cinia and US telco infrastructure firm Far North Digital in a project to deploy a fibre-optic cable linking Europe and Asia via the Arctic region, named Far North Fiber. The planned system will link Japan, via the Northwest Passage, to Europe with landings in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. European landings are currently planned in Norway, Finland and Ireland. According to the plan, the 14,000km system – with estimated cost of EUR1 billion (USD1.23 billion) – is expected to start operations in 2025. Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been chosen as the lead engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) partner for the project. Cinia CEO Ari-Jussi Knaapila said: ‘Far North Fiber will be the first multicontinental cable system and the first Pan-Arctic system. First of its kind very often causes a paradigm shift. Cinia is very pleased to have all three continents represented in the development team, and I warmly welcome ARTERIA to join the project with Cinia and Far North Digital.’

Cable repair ship Reliance has recovered the Fiji cable end of the damaged Tonga Cable, while a major 55km+ section of the fibre-optic cable (including a repeater) is yet to be retrieved, Matangi Tonga writes. Tonga Cable Limited (TCL) CEO James Panuve said: ‘It is obvious that the eruption/shockwaves/tsunami caused major havoc under water’, adding that the biggest challenge now is connecting the two recovered ends of the cable, as TCL does not have enough cable spare on the ship to bridge the 80km+ gap: ‘We have had to ask other cable owners in the region, who have cable spares on the Reliance and who are willing to allow us to use their cable spares. We will have to either replace or pay for what we use later.’ The cable faults were caused by the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano in January 2022. The cable fault on the Tonga Cable was located between the TCL cable landing station in Sopu, Tongatapu and FINTEL cable landing station in Suva (Fiji), approximately 37km offshore from Tonga, while the Tonga Domestic Cable Extension (TDCE) was severed near the area of the recent volcanic activity, around 47km offshore. The 827km Tonga Cable between Tonga and Fiji (certified RFS in August 2013) interconnects with the Southern Cross Cable, while the 410km TDCE links Neiafu to Nuku’alofa and Pangai.

In Russia, MTS has announced the completion of the construction of a 25km fibre-optic communication line (FOCL) with a capacity of 100Gbps+ between Salekhard and Labytnangi in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, part of which runs along the bottom of the Ob River. The new fibre-optic link enabled the interconnection of the northern cities of Yamal with the Komi Republic.

China Telecom and Huawei have jointly completed the lab verification of a 200G+ large-capacity transmission system, set to provide key technical support for the construction of a next-generation long-haul, large-capacity transmission system. Huawei’s solution features Super 200G+ based on channel-matched shaping (CMS), special pluggable erbium-doped fibre amplifiers (EDFAs) with ultra-wide gain spectrum, Super C+L band ready Raman amplifiers, and liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) supporting flexible slicing and ultra-low filter penalty. Super 200G+ transmission over 3,600km without electrical regeneration has been achieved. The solution doubles the single-fibre capacity to 16Tbps, which can evolve to 32Tbps in the future.

Colt Technology Services has deployed 800G technology in the L-band across a terrestrial network, utilising Ciena’s Reconfigurable Line System (RLS), WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optics, and Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller. This makes Colt the first service provider to offer 100G/400G Wave services using coherent technology across both C+L bands, enabling double the data transport capacity offered by a single fibre pair.

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Algeria, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Tonga, Tunisia, AFR-IX telecom, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), China Telecom Corporation, Ciena Corporation, Cinia Group (formerly Corenet), Colt Technology Services Group, HMN Tech (formerly Huawei Marine), Huawei Technologies, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), NEC, SubCom, Tonga Cable Limited