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

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22 Apr 2022

The 2Africa consortium has announced that the 2Africa submarine cable has made its first landing in Genoa (Italy). Vodafone, the 2Africa landing party in Genoa, has partnered with Equinix to land the cable directly into the Equinix Carrier Neutral Data Center (CNDC), with Retelit delivering the fronthaul. Working with a local Italian operator, 2Africa has also developed a new terrestrial route connecting the Genoa cable landing station (CLS) directly to major CNDCs in Milan. Upon completion, the 45,000km 2Africa submarine network is expected to be the longest in the world, connecting 46 locations in Africa, Europe and Asia. The system is expected to go live in 2024, delivering a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system. The 2Africa consortium – comprising China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) – had appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to build the cable in a fully funded project; the 2Africa cable will feature ASN’s SDM1 technology, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs.

The Asia Direct Cable (ADC) system aiming to link China (Hong Kong SAR and Guangdong Province), Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam has landed in Quy Nhon, located in the province of Binh Dinh (Vietnam), writes. The ADC consortium – which includes Singtel, CAT, China Telecom, China Unicom, PLDT, SoftBank Corp, Tata Communications and Viettel, had selected NEC to construct the 9,400km ADC cable system, which is expected to be completed by 2023. The cable will feature multiple pairs of high capacity optical fibres and is designed to carry more than 140Tbps of traffic, enabling high capacity transmission of data across the East and Southeast Asian regions. The system will land at SoftBank’s Maruyama Cable Landing Station in Japan, Shantou (China), China Hong Kong SAR, Batangas (Philippines), Quy Nhon (Vietnam), Sri Racha (Thailand) and Tuas (Singapore).

Google and cable landing partner WIOCC are planning to land the Equiano submarine cable in Lagos (Nigeria) soon. The Equiano system – which will run from Portugal to South Africa along the African coast of the Atlantic Ocean – is being deployed by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) and will be Google’s fourth private cable, following the deployment of Junior (2018), Curie (2020) and Dunant (2021).

Meta and Amazon have notified the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the withdrawal of a licence application and special temporary authority (STA) extension request to land and operate the CAP-1 submarine cable system connecting the US and the Philippines. ‘The applicants have requested that the FCC dismiss the applications without prejudice to any future filings for the same or similar submarine cable system, once all steps in the reconfiguration of the CAP-1 system have been fully executed.’ The CAP-1 system reflects the reconfiguration of the earlier Bay to Bay Express (BtoBE) cable system, the application for which had been withdrawn due to security concerns. The CAP-1 system was originally planned to land at Grover Beach, California and a new cable landing station at Pagudpud. Additional details on the future configuration of CAP-1 and timing for a potential re-application with the FCC are unavailable.

The Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) has opted to increase its investment in the deployment of a third submarine cable by BDT1.73 billion (USD19.6 million), bringing the total earmarked for the connection to the planned SeaMeWe-6 cable to BDT8.70 billion. The additional funding will increase the capacity to 13,200Gbps from 6,600Gbps, BSCCL Managing Director Habibur Rahman told The Financial Express. Bangladesh signed an agreement with the SeaMeWe-6 consortium for the construction and maintenance of the third submarine cable in September 2021. According to the project proposal, the BSCCL will install the cable to connect with the proposed SeaMeWe-6 system by June 2024. The SeaMeWe-6 submarine cable will run from Singapore to France, extending across the Mediterranean Sea through the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Red Sea. The cable will have landing stations in Singapore, India, Djibouti, Egypt and France. The Bangladesh branch will stretch to the cable landing station in Cox’s Bazar through the Bay of Bengal.

SEJA DIGITAL will partner with HMN Tech for the construction of the Infovia 01 underwater backbone network in the northern Amazon River. The new system is a core part of Brazilian North Connected Programme, itself part of the Programa Amazonia Integrada e Sustentavel (PAIS), which envisages the construction of fibre-optic backbone using the Amazonian River beds in the North Region of Brazil. The 1,204km system will connect Manaus with Santarem, via nine cities along the route. The system will comprise 24 fibre pairs provided by HMN Tech.

Telin and TM Wholesale have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore submarine cable business opportunities. The deal will see the two companies partner in ‘buying, selling, upgrading and investing activities’ in the submarine space, according to Telin CEO Budi Satria Dharma Purba. At present, Telin has 22 submarine cable systems, spanning a total of over 222,260km in length, while TM Wholesale operates 30 subsea cable systems spanning more than 320,000km. Both parties will leverage the infrastructure to deliver ‘reliable, diversified and uninterrupted’ connectivity solutions.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has revealed that a power reconfiguration activity on a section of the SeaMeWe-4 system was completed on 21 April. The routine scheduled maintenance activity resulted in no issues for internet users.

Submarine telecoms cable recovery and recycling company Mertech Marine has announced a key upgrade to its subsea cable recovery fleet with the addition of a new ship that will replace its retiring flagship motor vessel (MV) Lida. A Dutch-built freighter that turned submarine telecom retrieval vessel in 2009, Lida has participated in 59 cable recovery voyages, including the retrieval of the first cable between the UK and the US – TAT-1.

Huawei is partnering with the Kenyan government in an effort to roll out 43,000km of fibre-optic cable in the country to help ramp up internet connectivity. Steve Kamuya, Director for Enterprise Business at Huawei Kenya, said: ‘To enable broadband access, it will start with laying 25,000km of fibre backbone and metro countrywide through the partnership with Kenya’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Authority. Accelerating ICT infrastructure construction is critical for ensuring universal access to all.’

Sudatel, SudaTchad and CamTel have established a new strategic partnership that will see the commercialisation of West to East Africa Network Access (WE-AFRICA-NA). The new system is a continuous terrestrial cable connecting the West and East regions of Africa from Port-Sudan on the Red Sea in Sudan to Kribi on the Atlantic Ocean in Cameroon via Chad in the centre of the continent.

Sparkle and Azertelecom have signed a MoU to establish a cooperation within the Digital Silk Way project that aims to create a digital telecoms corridor between Europe and Asia via Azerbaijan. The Digital Silk Way project was initiated by NEQSOL Holding and implemented by Azertelecom to develop IT and digital ecosystem in Azerbaijan. Under the agreement, the parties agreed to evaluate new business opportunities and study the feasibility of jointly establishing and managing a new end-to-end transmission capacity corridor between Central Asia and Europe, also leveraging Sparkle’s existing backbone infrastructure stretching from Turkey to Italy and further on to all the main European hubs.

MTN GlobalConnect (MTN GC), the wholesale and infrastructure operating company of MTN Group, has announced that it had approximately 100,000km of proprietary fibre by December 2021. MTN rolled out over 15,000km of additional terrestrial fibre-optic networks across its operations in Africa in 2021, of which MTN GC contributed approximately 4,400km. MTN said that it rolled out terrestrial fibre in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and concluded 15 new cross-border links across Africa during the year – including new cross-border links in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda. Going forward, the operator is aiming to deploy 135,000km of fibre by 2025.

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