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

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20 May 2022

EllaLink has disclosed plans to deploy a new submarine cable system linking Sines to Lisbon (Portugal) and is looking for anchor partners to invest in dark fibres at cost of ownership. The domestic subsea system is aiming to reinforce Portugal’s interconnectivity ecosystem and will feature 48 unrepeated fibre pairs with an optimised optical design. EllaLink claims the new infrastructure will provide direct DC to DC dark fibre connectivity with CLS pass through, and alternative on-demand PoPs.

The Equiano submarine cable will land in Sesimbra (Portugal) this week, at a station managed by Altice Portugal. The prime minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa, said the improved communication will help strengthen security, with Africa as well as in the trans-Atlantic alliance. 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).

The 2Africa submarine cable has made its second landing in Djibouti City (Djibouti). State-owned Djibouti Telecom will host the cable at a new CLS which is currently under construction and will host other systems in the future. When originally announced in October 2021, the facility was expected to be completed by April 2022 but has been delayed. 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 2023/2024, 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 Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector is conducting a 120-day initial review of a revised application for a modification to a cable landing licence. ARCOS-1 and A.SurNet are seeking authority to modify their cable landing licence for the ARCOS-1 submarine cable system, which connects the US with 14 countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, to include a new landing point in Cuba. The cable landing will be accomplished by creating a branch from an existing branching unit of the ARCOS cable (constructed as part of the original ARCOS-1 system in 1999) that lies approximately 56km off the coast of Cuba to a beach manhole in Cojimar (Cuba); the cable will then extend through a cable land route to an existing cable landing station in Cojimar. The new branch will be known as Segment 26. Columbus Networks Limited (CNL) or a wholly-owned and controlled subsidiary of CNL, will be the landing party, with Segment 26 to be jointly owned by CNL and some of the ARCOS consortium members; ETECSA meanwhile will acquire an indefeasible right of use (IRU) on some capacity on Segment 26 from CNL. The new branch will be constructed by SubCom.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted a request for special temporary authority (STA) filed by AT&T Corp to continue operation of the St. Thomas-St. Croix System while the FCC considers an application for another 25-year term for the cable system. The STA is subject to cancellation or modification upon notice without a hearing and expires on 7 November 2022.

Elsewhere, the FCC has granted a STA filed by HUB Advanced Networks on behalf of the licensees of the Antillas 1 cable system – AT&T Corp, MCI International, Primus Telecommunications, Sprint Communications Company, PREPA Networks and Telefonica Larga Distancia De Puerto Rico – to continue operation of Antillas 1, while the Commission considers an application for an additional ten-year term for the cable. The STA expires on 7 November 2022.

Singapore-based shipping company BW Digital has completed its acquisition of Hawaiki Submarine Cable, with all applicable regulatory filings and approvals now received. The company has retaliated its plans to deploy the Hawaiki Nui system, described as the first submarine cable to directly interconnect Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and the US. BW Digital has also partnered with Chile’s state-owned entity Desarrollo Pais for the development of the Humboldt cable system aiming to connect Valparaiso (Chile) to Auckland (New Zealand) and Sydney (Australia). The initial design of the 14,810km Humboldt cable includes between four and eight fibre-optic pairs, with a transmission capacity of 10Tbps-20Tbps; the system is slated to enter operations in early 2025.

DC BLOX has acquired the Southeastern fibre assets from Light Source Communications and Ascendant Capital Fiber, including a dark fibre network connecting South Carolina to Georgia that is currently in development. Following DC BLOX’s recent announcement that it is building a new CLS in Myrtle Beach (South Carolina), the company revealed that construction is already underway on a high-capacity, long-haul dark fibre route running from the Myrtle Beach CLS through Charleston, Augusta and downtown Atlanta, and landing in Lithia Springs (Georgia, US). The CLS and the terrestrial dark fibre route are both planned to be completed in 2023.

Telstra International has forged a new partnership with Converge ICT Solutions for a joint venture that seeks to improve connectivity in the Philippines. Telstra said its partnership with Converge has created Telstra Converge (TCI), previously known as Digitel Crossing, in a bid to offer end-to-end solutions for customers. Telstra said: ‘The joint venture has allowed Telstra to build new terrestrial fibre routes between its East Asia Crossing (EAC) and City-to-City (C2C) submarine cable landing stations in the Philippines, as well as into Makati City in the Metro Manila region, the country’s financial, commercial, and economic hub. This expansion enables Telstra to provide quality end-to-end solutions for its customers.’ Further, Telstra also launched a new PoP in Pasig City, which allows ethernet private line (EPL) services of 10G and 100G, to ensure a stable and more accessible internet service. The new PoP is linked to the two existing PoPs in Makati City.

GTS Telecom, an information technology and communications service provider in Romania and member of Deutsche Telekom, has selected Ciena to upgrade its network from 10G to 100G across the country. The network gives GTS Telecom the ability to migrate the countrywide network to 200G, 400G and even 800G as customer needs evolve. The deployment uses Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platforms, powered by WaveLogic coherent technology, in conjunction with flexible grid ROADMs, to deliver high-bandwidth connectivity across the whole of Romania. GTS is also leveraging Ciena Services for remote service migration and commissioning.

The governments of the Central African Republic (CAR) and Cameroon have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the interconnection of their communication networks, which will cover the cross-border fibre-optic networks currently under construction between the two countries. The deployment of the national fibre-optic backbone in CAR began in 2018; under this project, fibre-optic cabling will run from Bangui to Kentzou on the border with Cameroon via the Boali-Bossembele-Yaloke-Bawi-Baoro-Carnot-Berberati-Gamboula route. Cameroon’s Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Minette Libom Likeng said that the fibre-optic cable has now been deployed from Bertoua to Kentzou via Batouri on Cameroon’s side, with the transmission equipment scheduled to be installed in May 2022. CAR’s Minister of Digital Economy, Posts and Telecommunications Justin Gourna Zacko meanwhile revealed that closing date for the completion of the cross-border fibre-optic link is planned to be 30 June 2022 for Cameroon, and 31 December 2022 for the CAR.

As much as 61.38% of the work of Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON) has been completed according to Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan. The official revealed that to date, 5,333km of backbone network (out of 8,551km) and 14,133km of access cabling (26,410km) has been deployed in the Indian state, while construction of the Network Operating Centre at Kakkanad has also been completed. The KFON launch has been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Australia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chile, Cuba, Djibouti, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, United States, Virgin Islands (U.S.), Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Altice Portugal (MEO), AT&T, China Mobile International, Ciena Corporation, Columbus Networks, Converge ICT Solutions, Deutsche Telekom (DT), Digital Telecommunications (Digitel), Djibouti Telecom, Ellalink, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), Facebook, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Google (Alphabet), GTS Telecom (Romania), Hawaiki Cable, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), MTN Group, Orange Group, Saudi Telecom Company (stc), Sprint Corporation (became part of T-Mobile US), SubCom, Telecom Egypt, Telefonica Larga Distancia de Puerto Rico, Telstra (incl. Belong), Vodafone Group, West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC)