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

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8 Jul 2022

Southern Cross Cables Network (SCCN) has announced the launch of its Southern Cross NEXT cable system, providing connectivity between New Zealand, Australia and the US, and featuring branching units to Fiji, Kiribati and Tokelau. The 13,700km Southern Cross NEXT cable comprises four fibre pairs and will provide 72Tbps of total design capacity; it features Alcatel Submarine Networks’ WSS ROADM units and the latest generation of submarine repeaters and is designed to be adaptable to future technology developments. SCCN CEO Laurie Miller said: ‘The new NEXT system is up and running and a core part of our strategy – providing new technology and capability that will support the growing and changing needs of our customers and the wider industry.’ Consisting of three diverse submarine cable routes, more than 20 access points, and over 43,000km, the Southern Cross ecosystem supports high capacity and low latency routes between Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tokelau, Kiribati, Hawaii and the US west coast.

Telecom Namibia and Paratus Group have announced that the Equiano submarine cable has landed in Swakopmund, Namibia. Paratus – which has been selected by Google to serve as the landing partner for Equiano in Namibia – explained that the building of the cable landing station (CLS) was completed in September 2021, while the internal fit – including power, cabling cabinets, conduits, raceways, cages, and security – was completed in January 2022. Paratus added that the Equiano is expected to be fully operational in Q4 2022. According to Telecom’s CEO Stanley Shanapinda, the cable is a major step towards the development of a national telecoms infrastructure for Namibia’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). 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).

Construction work on a new landing station that will house the BlueMed system, Sparkle’s new domestic multi-fibre submarine cable, has commenced in Genoa (Italy). When completed in 2024, BlueMed will cross the Tyrrhenian Sea connecting Sparkle’s Sicily Hub open data centre in Palermo, which serves 18 international cables, with Milan and Genoa’s new open landing station. Almost all of the bore pipe will be built in a submarine trench, excavated to a depth of about 1.2 metres. The land infrastructure has also been designed to ensure a sustainable landfall, mainly by exploiting the underground network of tunnels and galleries of approximately 6.5km built underground in Genoa. Finally, all cables will land in the Genoa Lagaccio plant, which will serve as an open landing and connectivity hub providing space and power to the Blue system and other submarine cables, as well as to terrestrial network operators.

Sub.Co has confirmed that the final splice of the Oman Australia Cable (OAC) cable system has been installed. OAC is a three-fibre pair system with an option to upgrade to four fibre pairs; it boasts a design that features 100G DWDM and a total capacity of 39Tbps. When it enters commercial services in September 2022, the OAC will be the only submarine cable directly connecting continental Australia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) by directly linking Oman to Perth, Australia. TeleGeography notes that the Marine Route Survey for the OAC system commenced in October 2020 and was completed in February 2021. In Australia, the Perth cable landing infrastructure construction commenced in October 2020 and was completed later in December; the works included an additional seaward facing duct installed for maintenance and possible future cable installation. The cable landed in Perth in July 2021. The OAC cable will also connect to the INDIGO cable system as part of a new ‘Great Southern Route’ between the US, Australia and EMEA.

Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL) has revealed that its board of directors has approved a USD3.2 million (excl. VAT/tax) agreement with the SeaMeWe-4 submarine cable consortium to enhance BSCCL’s capacity over the cable by 3,800Gbps. BSCCL’s capacity over the system will increase to 4,600Gbps after the successful completion of the upgrade process, with the lifespan of the cable set to increase from 2025 to 2030. BSCCL is also in talks to upgrade its capacity over the SeaMeWe-5 system (currently 1,400Gbps).

Telstra has announced upgrades to Telstra’s Next Generation Optical Network which will increase the service capacity of the optical network to 400GE. The system provides connectivity between Telstra’s IP routers and switches and this deployment will initially be used for Telstra’s internet traffic and broadband connectivity. Transmitted over Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform using WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5E), the upgrade from a 100GE to a 400GE interface will improve optical network performance and service capacity while reducing power inefficiencies.

Argentina’s state-owned operator ARSAT has signed an agreement to extend the country’s fibre-optic backbone network, the Red Federal de Fibra Optica (REFEFO), to nine new localities in the north-western Catamarca province. Under the deal, ARSAT will roll out an additional 254km of fibre cable in the previously unserved localities of El Salado, Copacabana, La Punilla, Tinogasta, El Pajonal, Colpes, Saujil, Andalgala and Villa Mazan in La Rioja, over the following two years. As of January 2022, the network spanned 31,259km (scaled down from an initial 58,000km projection) and connected around 1,049 localities, bringing coverage to 20.751 million citizens. Going forward, a further 4,408km of fibre will be deployed by 2023.

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Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Fiji, Italy, Kiribati, Namibia, New Zealand, Oman, Tokelau, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), ARSAT, Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL), Google (Alphabet), Paratus (Namibia), Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN), Telecom Italia Sparkle, Telecom Namibia (incl. TN Mobile), Telstra (incl. Belong)