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

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1 Jul 2022

The Echo submarine cable system has landed at Tanjung Pakis Beach, Karawang Regency, West Java (Indonesia). The Echo cable will run from Eureka, California (US) to Changi North in Singapore and will feature two additional branches to Agat and Piti (Guam), a branch to Palau and a branch to Tanjung Pakis in Indonesia. Echo will provide 12Tbps of capacity per fibre pair, with the 16,026km main trunk comprising twelve fibre pairs. The two 372km branches to Guam (BU1 and BU2) will each feature twelve fibre pairs, while the 234km branching unit to Indonesia (BU3) will consist of four fibre pairs. The system is being developed by Meta (Facebook) and Google in partnership with XL Axiata; it is due to be completed in Q3 2023, while the Palau cable is expected to be connected by Q1 2024.

PLDT will switch on the branch linking the Philippines to the JUPITER cable system this month. The JUPITER submarine cable system links Maruyama and Shima in Japan with Los Angeles in the US (ready for service [RFS] in 2020), with a branch to Daet in the Philippines. The 14,000km JUPITER network utilises ROADM which employs wavelength selective switch (WSS) technology, providing a greater diversity of connections and enhanced reliability for customers as well as optimised connectivity to data centres on the West Coast of the US.

Seaborn Networks has reportedly submitted an unsolicited application to the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg) to deploy a new submarine fibre-optic cable to the Cayman Islands. No further details on the proposal have been released, with OfReg ICT Director Sonji Myles saying that the regulator is currently reviewing the application. The proposal is separate from the government’s plans to seek a contractor to lay a third state-subsidised subsea system to meet the growing demand for bandwidth. Around USD30 million has already been set aside in the current budget for the project, with submarine systems experts Pioneer Consulting selected in May 2022 to undertake a feasibility study into the modernisation of the country’s submarine cable infrastructure.

Bulk Fiber Networks and WFN Strategies have launched a tender for a system supplier for the prospective Leif Erikson cable project aiming to link Norway and Canada. The tender process is expected to run until Q3 2022, with a contract award anticipated in 4Q22. The Leif Erikson Cable System will traverse 4,200km of the North Atlantic to provide the shortest route between North America and the Nordics. The network will allow CanArctic to bring fibre-optic internet into the coastal Labrador community of Rigolet, offering services to the communities of Makkovik, Postville, Hopedale, Natuashish, Nain and the mine at Voisey’s before heading to Iqaluit. The cable will also allow connections to the High Arctic, with a possible extension to Thule, Greenland.

Unitel has completed the landing of the Unitel North Submarino Cabo (UNSC) in Cabinda (Angola). Unitel’s submarine cable is around 1,145km long and has a design capacity of 93.4Tbps. To ensure high reliability network connections in the Congo River estuary, the system adopts a 1+1 protected design: a repeated segment will link Cacongo and N’zeto, while a non-repeated segment will link Cabinda and Soyo. In addition, the UNSC system will provide branch lines along the route for connections to oil and gas platforms. Unitel CTO Amilcar Safeca said: ‘With the rapid development of the telecommunications market in Angola, data and voice communication will increase significantly, and therefore requires a better transmission network to support the operation of the network. Unitel’s North Submarine Cable will satisfy the next ten to 15 years of business requirements and will greatly improve the quality of communication in Cabinda, promote Angola’s digital transformation, and strongly support the promotion of the national ICT development strategy.’

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has commenced a review on security grounds of an application filled by Google for a licence to construct, land and operate a private, non-common carrier submarine fibre-optic cable connecting the US, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, called Firmina. The system will comprise a main trunk from Myrtle Beach (South Carolina, US) to Las Toninas (Argentina), with two branching units (BUs) connecting branches to Praia Grande (Brazil) and Punta del Este (Uruguay). In addition, there are two planned BUs, one with a stubbed branch pointing towards Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic and another towards Fortaleza (Brazil). The main trunk will have a total length of 13,413km and will consist of 16 fibre pairs, while the branch to Praia Grande will comprise 24 fibre pairs (580km), Punta del Este (twelve fibre pairs, 524km), Puerto Rico/Dominican Republic (twelve fibre pairs) and Fortaleza (16 fibre pairs). Each fibre pair will have a total design capacity of approximately 15Tbps (for a total of approximately 240Tbps). Subject to authorisation, Google intends to commence commercial operation of the US endpoint of the system in December 2023.

An application filed by Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) and Stonepeak’s newly established holding company Patagonia Holdco to transfer control of Global Crossing Americas Solutions (GCAS), CenturyLink Latin American Solutions (CLAS) and Level 3 Communications St. Croix to Patagonia Holdco has now been granted. In July 2021 Lumen Technologies inked a definitive agreement to sell its Latin American business to New York-based alternative investment firm Stonepeak, in a deal worth USD2.735 billion. AustralianSuper, Australia’s largest pension fund, will act as a co-investor, alongside Stonepeak. Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Lumen will divest its Latin American business, which will operate as an independent, US-headquartered portfolio company of Stonepeak. The assets in question were acquired by CenturyLink in 2017, as part of its buyout of Level 3.

Neterra has taken capacity on EllaLink submarine cable directly connecting Latin America and Europe, to bring it on-net as part of NetIX’s global infrastructure assets. Brazilian networks will be able to connect across EllaLink capacity from NetIX’s enabled locations in Sao Paulo, Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro (all in Brazil), and access Europe via the landing stations in Madrid (Spain) and Marseille (France).

Infinera and NEC Corporation have announced that Neutral Networks deployed Infinera’s ICE6 800G technology for its new fibre-optic network, dubbed NEXT, between Mexico and the US. Currently, Neutral Networks provides connectivity to carriers, data centres and enterprise customers on its existing 281km network. With NEXT, Neutral Networks will establish a 100% underground fibre-optic network to connect Laredo in the US with Monterrey (Mexico). Leveraging Infinera’s ICE6 technology on the GX Series Compact Modular Platform, NEXT will increase the capacity of the international network to meet the rapidly growing bandwidth demands in the region. The network will aggregate and transport 10G and 100G Ethernet services onto high-speed wavelengths without regeneration. Noe Garza, CTO at Neutral Networks, said: ‘Our goal is for Mexico to have a modern, world-class network infrastructure which is why we found Infinera’s innovative ICE6 solution and NEC’s local engineering capabilities a reliable and ideal fit to ensure a seamless implementation at a scale of this kind.’

Ekinops is delivering its Ekinops360 optical transport solutions to Everstream, a provider of fibre connectivity solutions in the north-central and eastern regions of the US. Based in Cleveland (Ohio), Everstream operates an extensive 27,000 fibre-mile network stretching from Duluth (Minnesota) to Washington DC. The network consists of more than 5,000 on-net locations with connectivity in 63 Tier 1 to Tier 4 data centres across its ten-state footprint, including key markets such as Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Detroit and Philadelphia.

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Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Greenland, Guam, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Palau, Philippines, United States, Uruguay, Ekinops, Everstream, Facebook, Google (Alphabet), Infinera, Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink), NEC, Neterra Telecommunications, Neutral Networks, PLDT Inc. (incl. Smart Communications and Sun Cellular), Seaborn Networks, Unitel (Angola), Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg), XL Axiata