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

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7 Oct 2022

Unidata (via a special purpose company called Unitirreno) has signed an agreement for the deployment of an 890km fibre-optic submarine system in the Tyrrhenian Sea that will connect Mazara del Vallo and Genoa with a hub near Rome-Fiumicino. The project will commence after the signing of the binding agreements (expected by the end of 2022). Renato Brunetti, President and CEO of Unidata, said: ‘Connecting Sicily with the capital and Northern Italy by sea, through cutting-edge submarine technologies, will allow us to be an alternative to the current Marseille hub of our French cousins. Furthermore, these submarine cables will be able to have a junction in order to continue the route westwards near Sardinia. Finally, we are sure to make important synergies between the Rome-Fiumicino hub and the green data centre that we will build on site starting in the next few months.’

Sub.Co has confirmed that the Oman Australia Cable (OAC) is now ready for service (RFS). 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. The OAC is 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.

Google has revealed that the Equiano cable system will commence services in Nigeria in December 2022. The system, which landed in the country in April, is Google’s fifth private cable, following the deployment of Junior (2018), Curie (2020) Dunant (2021) and Grace Hopper (2022).

GCI has completed the deployment of its 1,280km submarine fibre-optic system from Kodiak along the south side of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians to Unalaska, which is part of its Alaska United-Aleutians Fiber Project. The final splice connects each slender strand of fibre into GCI’s existing fibre-optic infrastructure in Kodiak, linking the new network backbone to the rest of the world. GCI’s AU-Aleutians project will provide terrestrial broadband service to underserved areas of the Alaska state by bringing fixed broadband to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor and five other communities – King Cove, Sand Point, Akutan, Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay. The project is slated for completion by the end of 2024. Under the next stage, GCI will deploy fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) to Unalaska (by the end of 2022), Akutan, Sand Point and King Cove (2023) and Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay (late 2024). The total cost of the project is USD58 million, comprising a USD25 million federal grant from the USDA Rural Utility Service’s ReConnect programme, with GCI providing additional funding of USD33 million.

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) has applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for an extension to a special temporary authority (STA) to allow the continued operation of the Bahamas 2 submarine cable, pending the submarine cable licence renewal for an additional 25-year term. The STA was granted in April 2022 and expires on 10 October 2022. The 470km Bahamas 2 system connects with the domestic networks in the continental US and the Bahamas, operating successfully for 24 years pursuant to the cable landing licence granted in 1996. The Bahamas 2 is a common carrier submarine cable that extends from a landing point at Vero Beach (Florida) to Nassau (Bahamas), with an intermediate point at Eight Mile Rock (Bahamas). The system consists of five optical fibre pairs, with the capacity of each pair comprised of 16 100Gbps Basic System Modules (BSMs).

Elsewhere, AT&T Corp has submitted an application for a STA 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 previous STA (granted on 10 May 2022) expires on 7 November 2022.

Liquid Dataport, a division of Liquid Intelligent Technologies (LIT), has acquired a fibre-optic pair on the Equiano submarine cable system. The Equiano system, which runs from Portugal to South Africa along the African coast of the Atlantic Ocean, was deployed by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN); it has a design capacity of 144Tbps, with landing points in Namibia, Nigeria, Portugal, Saint Helena, Togo, South Africa and Portugal.

DC BLOX, a provider of multi-tenant data centres, dark fibre and connectivity solutions, has commenced work on its new international submarine cable landing station (CLS) in Myrtle Beach (South Carolina, US). In addition, a new dark fibre route linking Myrtle Beach with the connectivity hub of the Southeast in Atlanta is also under construction. The CLS is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2023, while the fibre route will be completed in the first quarter of 2024.

STC Group (stc) has established a separate company, called Center3, to own its digital infrastructure assets, including data centres, submarine cables, international PoPs and IXPs. Center3 will be a regional hub of carrier-neutral data centres and a provider of international communication for the telecoms sector through a submarine fibre-optic network. It aims to develop digital businesses and enhance investment opportunities in international communication services.

Hexatronic Group has signed a binding asset purchase agreement to acquire all business activities of Rochester Cable, one of the main designers and manufacturers of harsh environment electro-optical cables in the US, from TE Connectivity (TE) for an enterprise value of USD55 million. The agreement broadens Hexatronic’s offering within fibre-optic submarine communication cables to include dynamic working cables that can transmit electrical signals and power in addition to transmitting optical signals. The electro-optical cables can accommodate extreme water depths to 6,000 meters and connect a variety of sensors, equipment, and remotely operated vehicles. Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected no later than 31 March 2023.

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Australia, Bahamas, Italy, Nigeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United States, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), AT&T, Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), GCI Communication Corp, Google (Alphabet), Liquid Intelligent Technologies (LIT), Saudi Telecom Company (stc)