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

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4 Mar 2022

Telecom Egypt (TE) and Barcelona-based AFR-IX Telecom have inked an agreement for the landing of the Medusa Submarine Cable System in Egypt. The deal was signed during the Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona by the Managing Director and CEO of Telecom Egypt Adel Hamed and AFR-IX Telecom’s CEO Norman Albi. The Medusa 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. Mr Albi commented: ‘The agreement with Telecom Egypt is key to the project, as Egypt is an essential transit route for submarine cables due to its privileged position between Europe, Asia and Africa. It is a very valuable connection to link East to West and North to South. With Medusa, we will also contribute to diversifying traditional routes such as those that land in Alexandria or Suez.’

PEACE Cable and Ooredoo Maldives have announced a new extension to the PEACE cable system, linking Maldives and Singapore. The new section of PEACE will have a total length of 6,500km, with additional proposed landings in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. When complete, the entire PEACE system will have a total length of over 25,000km, providing a direct route from Singapore to France and enabling direct interconnection from East Asia to Europe. Ooredoo Maldives will cooperate with PEACE Cable to connect Maldives with Singapore and Europe via a new branch between Kulhudhuffushi and the trunk of PEACE Singapore extension; the landing is slated for completion in 2023. PEACE Cable and Ooredoo Maldives inked an agreement for Ooredoo’s investment in the extension in December 2021.

Jakarta-based Matrix NAP Info has announced an agreement with Communication Cable Systems Indonesia (CCSI) on the establishment of a submarine cable joint venture. The new company, called Varuna Cahaya Santosa, will be tasked with developing the Varuna Cable System (VCS), a 3,400km submarine fibre-optic cable. The planned system is aiming to connect Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Labuan Bajo, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Bawean and Madura island and return back to Java island in one loop network. The construction of the network is expected to be completed within 24 months. Matrix NAP Info will offer supporting expertise in the operation and construction of the submarine cables, while CCSI will be responsible for procurement and deployment contracting, as well as operation and maintenance. The partners have also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mitsui relating to its interest in equity participation in the VCS; discussions regarding this investment are still ongoing.

Cabo Verde Telecom (CVTelecom) and Angola Cables have signed a cooperation agreement to identify synergies to expand connectivity and network capabilities. The strategic partnership will also streamline closer commercial cooperation in the development of customised networking products and solutions that can be brought to market in the coming months. The South Atlantic Cable System (SACS), West Africa Cable System (WACS), Monet and EllaLink submarine cable systems will be part of the strategic plan to offer multiple connectivity and redundancy routing options for ISPs, enterprises and content providers looking to route internet traffic between Africa, Europe and the Americas at low latencies on these express routes.

Chinese firm Dr. Peng Group has sold its stake in Hong Kong-based company Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) – which controls four unused fibre pairs in the so-called ‘Hong Kong Path’ of the trans-Pacific Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) cable – to Meister United Limited for USD160 million. Dr. Peng Group noted that the decision was taken in order to ‘dispose of loss-making assets’, as ‘the possibility of obtaining the US operating licence is extremely low due to the international situation.’ Meister United Limited – established in August 2021 – is registered in the British Virgin Islands; Meister’s acquisition of PLDC is financed by Canada-based family wealth management firm FIT Ventures.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted its approval to an application filled by AT&T, on behalf of Brunei International Gateway (BIG) and Unified National Networks (UNN), for the pro forma assignment of the ownership and voting interests in the AAG cable system from BIG to UNN, as part of a January 2020 restructuring of the telecommunication sector in Brunei Darussalam. AT&T highlighted that the direct ownership of both entities is by Darussalam Assets, a private limited company established in 2012 to own Brunei’s government-linked companies, so the transaction does not result in a change in the licensee’s ultimate control.

Saudi Telecom Company (stc) and Nokia have announced the successful completion of what they claim is ‘the Middle East and Africa region’s first trial of 1Tbps high-capacity channel’. The trial was undertaken in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), across a live network using Nokia’s modular 1830 Photonic Service Interconnect. When deployed commercially, Nokia’s PSI-M will allow stc to scale network capacity and support new high-bandwidth services, the company said. As part of the trial, Nokia PSI-M was directly installed in stc’s data centre rack and used AC power supply. Nokia’s 1830 PSI-M is a compact, high-capacity, modular optical networking platform, optimised for Data Center Interconnect (DCI) applications over metro, regional and long haul. It is designed to address the growing demand for DCI applications and the need to transport new high bandwidth services such as 400GbE and 800GbE from the latest generations of routers.

neutrality.one has partnered with Neterra and Arc Solutions to provide seamless connectivity services across the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. Customers can gain access to this interconnected partnership via PoPs in the UAE, Bahrain and Oman via Arc’s solutions, over 150 global PoPs via Neterra, as well as software-defined WAN (SDWAN) overlay and underlay services from neutrality.one. George Szlosarek, CEO at neutrality.one, commented: ‘Together with Arc and Neterra, we are delivering an interconnected ecosystem that is flexible, fluid and growing globally. Our combined strengths offer customer access to the networking services they need locally and around the world. Whether they are connecting in the GCC or western Europe, we have one cohesive interconnection ecosystem that is ready to support global digital transformation and growing demand for cloud services.’

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