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

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8 Apr 2022

Google is spearheading the construction of a new submarine fibre-optic cable dubbed Topaz to connect Canada and Asia, in partnership with a number of local companies in Japan and Canada. Once complete, Topaz will run from Vancouver to the small town of Port Alberni on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and across the Pacific Ocean to the prefectures of Mie and Ibaraki in Japan. Topaz will house 16 fibre pairs, for a total capacity of 240Tbps. It will feature Wavelength Selective Switch (WSS), an efficient and software-defined way to carve up the spectrum on an optical fibre pair for flexibility in routing and advanced resilience. The eastern end of the system will land in an upgraded facility which previously housed the Commonwealth Pacific Cable System (COMPAC) cable (now decommissioned). The Topaz system is currently slated to be ready for service (RFS) in 2023.

Zain Global Connect (ZGC), the wholesale carrier subsidiary of Zain Group, has announced the J2M subsystem connecting Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Marseille (France). The infrastructure, which forms a portion of the Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) cable system, is ZGC’s first subsea cable ownership. ZGC’s CEO Kamil Hilali commented: ‘J2M represents a major breakthrough for Zain and ZGC as we look to develop our wholesale capabilities further while ensuring an even better quality of service to all Zain operations offering international connectivity services.’

Cape Verde’s Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and Parliamentary Affairs, Filomena Goncalves, has announced that Cape Verde’s link to the EllaLink submarine cable will be operational this month, local news source Opais writes. The 6,200km cable, which was certified RFS in June 2021, allows 72Tbps of connectivity between Europe and Latin America. The system boasts landing stations at Sines in Portugal and at Praia Grande near Sao Paolo (Brazil), with branches to Kourou (French Guiana), the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira and Praia on the African island nation of Cape Verde.

An inauguration ceremony was held in New Caledonia to mark the landing of the domestic Picot-2 submarine cable system in Mare, following similar landings in Ouemo, Mont-Dore, Nouville and Yate. The new system will comprise two parts – the international section of the system (dubbed Gondwana-2) will be deployed between New Caledonia and Fiji, while the domestic cable called Picot-2 will link Lifou, Mare, Yate, Iles des Pins and Grande Terre. According to Office des Postes et Telecommunications de Nouvelle-Caledonie (OPT-NC), the Picot-2 system will land in Kuto (Iles des Pins) on 16 April and Lifou (19 April), while the Gondwana-2 landing in Suva is expected on 6 May. New Caledonia’s OPT-NC selected Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to deploy the system in April 2020.

Equinix has completed its acquisition of West African data centre and connectivity solutions provider MainOne for an enterprise value of USD320 million. The completion of the deal augments Equinix’s long-term strategy to become a leading African carrier-neutral digital infrastructure company by being able to bring a full range of connectivity to Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. This acquisition will extend Platform Equinix into West Africa, giving organisations based inside and outside of Africa access to global and regional markets. Founded in 2010, MainOne has enabled connectivity for the business community of Nigeria and now has digital infrastructure assets, including three operational data centres, with an additional facility in Lagos expected to open in April 2022.

Lastly, Societe Congolaise de Fibre Optique (SOCOF) has inaugurated a 650km fibre route from Kinshasa to Muanda, under Phase Five of the Central African Backbone (CAB) deployment (referred to as ‘CAB5’). The fibre-optic project was funded by the World Bank, which approved a grant worth USD92.1 million back in July 2014. The CAB5 project was completed in 2020 but had not entered services because it was not yet connected to the cable landing station in Muanda and a public-private partnership contract had not yet been concluded to operationalise the network. The Congolese government belatedly signed a 15-year agreement for the operations and maintenance of the network with Fiber Access Service Technology Congo (FAST Congo) in March 2022.

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Canada, Cape Verde, Congo, Rep., Japan, New Caledonia, Saudi Arabia, Equinix, Google (Alphabet), MainOne Cable, Office des Postes et Telecoms de Nouvelle-Caledonie (OPT-NC), Zain Group