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

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13 May 2022

China Mobile International Limited (CMI), China Unicom Global (CUG), Converge and PPTEL SEA-H2X have reaffirmed their partnership to construct and operate the South East Asia Hainan-Hong Kong Express Cable System (SEA-H2X), a new submarine cable system that will connect Hong Kong SAR (China), Hainan China, Philippines, Thailand, East Malaysia and Singapore, with options to extend to Vietnam, Cambodia, West Malaysia and Indonesia. The parties to the SEA-H2X Project have appointed HMN Tech to build the cable in a fully funded project which will greatly enhance intra-Asian connectivity. With the Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA) and Supply Contract with HMN Tech being effective on 4 March 2022, the parties have announced that the Supply Contract has come into force. At approximately 5,000km in length, the SEA-H2X cable will consist of at least eight fibre pairs between Hong Kong SAR and Singapore, with a design capacity of 160Tbps. The system is targeted to be ready for service (RFS) in 2024.

Telstra has announced that the first direct submarine cable connecting Australia with the US will be RFS in July 2022. The Southern Cross NEXT system will enhance connectivity between Australia, New Zealand and the US, with branching units to Fiji, Kiribati and Tokelau. Telstra is a 25% shareholder of the Southern Cross Cables Network (SCCN), the owner of Southern Cross NEXT. The 13,700km Southern Cross NEXT cable comprises four fibre pairs and will provide 72Tbps of total design capacity when completed; it features Alcatel Submarine Networks’ (ASN’s) WSS ROADM units and the latest generation of submarine repeaters and is designed to be adaptable to future technology developments.

Infinera has announced that the Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) consortium has selected its ICE6 coherent 800G solution to increase its submarine network capacity and provide diverse, resilient connectivity across European, Asian, African and Middle Eastern markets. The AAE-1 cable system spans 25,000km of submarine and terrestrial networks, connecting 19 countries – Egypt, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Oman, the UAE, Qatar, Yemen, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Italy and France. AAE-1’s submarine upgrade is designed to more than double the current capacity, providing in excess of 100Tbps, resulting in the largest-scale submarine upgrade in history.

Cinturion Corp has executed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) agreement with Grid Telecom to be its Landing Party partner in Greece. In addition, a letter of agreement (LoA) was inked with Lightstorm to land the Trans-Europe Asia System (TEAS) in Lightstorm’s Cable Landing Station (CLS) in India. Cinturion is developing the TEAS, aiming to provide design capacity of over 300Tbps via new and diverse parallel routes between India, the Middle East and Europe. The system consists of two diverse connections across the Mediterranean Sea, two diverse paths inter-linking the Middle East, multiple routes across the Arabian Peninsula, and a route through the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. Total subsea and terrestrial network segments span over 19,000km with an RFS date expected in Q3 2023.

Liquid Intelligent Technologies (LIT) has partnered with PEACE Cable Company to introduce 800Gbps of additional submarine capacity in Mombasa (Kenya). This will increase the availability of internet connectivity access across Africa, leveraging Liquid’s 100,000km of terrestrial fibre across twelve countries. Liquid Dataport CEO David Eurin said: ‘We are delighted to provide new subsea capacity between Mombasa, Karachi and Marseille, with extensions planned towards Singapore and Asia. This creates a cost-effective, low-latency and diverse route that our customers can leverage to serve their business-critical connectivity needs. The submarine cable will be ready in 2022.’

Maple Leaf Fibre, which is developing an inter-city link between Toronto and Montreal (Canada), has dropped its plans for a submarine segment, with the connection now scheduled to be entirely terrestrial for the whole length due to a shortage of cable-laying vessels. The project, a joint venture with Canada’s Crosslake Fibre, was planned as a terrestrial link between Kingston, Ontario and Montreal, with an underwater section across Lake Ontario from Kingston to Toronto.

DC BLOX is planning to build a new Cable Landing Station (CLS) in Myrtle Beach (South Carolina, US). The new CLS will anchor submarine cable systems connecting North America’s Southeast region with other continents. DC BLOX plans for its new CLS to be completed in the second quarter of 2023.

Globalinx will build four submarine bore pipes in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach (Virginia, US). Plans include submarine bore pipes with beach manhole infrastructure and full fronthaul conduits directly to the Globalinx CLS campus in Corporate Landing Business Park. The construction will start in November 2022 and is scheduled to be finalised in Q3 2023. After completion of this build, Corporate Landing Business Park will be connected to two diverse terrestrial submarine landing routes.

Flexential has opened its US network to Angola Cables to assist customers in Africa in connecting to key data centre hubs across the US. Flexential owns and operates 40 highly redundant data centres, seven cloud nodes and manages more than 13,000 cross-connects. Providing access to Angola’s MONET cable, housed in Flexential’s Fort Lauderdale (Florida, US) data centre, this partnership will offer customers connectivity via the low-latency, high-capacity South Atlantic Cable System (SACS).

Zayo has launched a network expansion project aiming to upgrade its dark fibre and submarine routes around the world. The upgrades are a result of an investment totalling nearly USD250 million and will take place over the next 18 months. Zayo will invest in a range of long-haul dark fibre routes that are built entirely underground. Zayo’s multiple dark fibre routes include a Cleveland to Columbus route, Dallas-Atlanta, Denver-Salt Lake City and Las Vegas-Phoenix. Zayo’s 120,000km backbone network is 400G enabled and is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

HGC Global Communications (HGC) and AMS-IX have announced the launch of AMS-IX Singapore as part of their strategy to implement internet exchanges (IXs) in various key locations in Asia. The new carrier-neutral IX is situated in the Equinix SG datacentre in Singapore and will enable the exchange of internet traffic with a multitude of networks using a single connection.

MainOne has announced the launch of its newest data centre, MDXi Lekki II, in Lagos. MainOne CEO, Funke Opeke, said: ‘Our plans include further expansion to the Lekki Campus to accommodate the requirements of global hyperscalers and regional businesses as we expand to connect the over 10,000 companies already on the Equinix platform. These businesses will now have access to our region and local businesses will come onboard to interconnect with them.’

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Australia, Canada, China, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, Thailand, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Angola Cables, China Mobile International, China Unicom Global (CUG), Cinturion, Converge ICT Solutions, Crosslake Fibre, HGC Global Communications, HMN Tech (formerly Huawei Marine), Infinera, Liquid Intelligent Technologies (LIT), MainOne Cable, Telstra (incl. Belong), Zayo Group