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

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28 Oct 2022

Meta (Facebook) has revealed that the 2Africa fibre-optic cable has landed in African telecoms company AFR-IX’s newly inaugurated Barcelona Cable Landing Station (CLS). Located by the Sant Adria de Besos beach (north of Barcelona), the CLS infrastructure was inaugurated on 13 October and can host up to eight different submarine fibre-optic cables. 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.

An international consortium of companies – including Finland’s Cinia, Alaska’s Far North Digital and Japan’s ARTERIA Networks – has formed a joint corporation, called Far North Fiber, to work towards development of a submarine fibre-optic system connecting Asia and Europe through the Arctic. The team will promote a system that aims to realise a faster and more secure route directly connecting Japan, North America, Ireland and Scandinavia. Far North Fiber estimates that the nearly 17,000km system will be ready for service (RFS) by the end of 2026. Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been selected to build and install the submarine cable and equipment required for this project. Ari-Jussi Knaapila, CEO of Cinia, commented: ‘Far North Fiber will be the first multicontinental cable system through the Arctic. It provides a backbone that offers enhanced opportunities for economic development, international security, and a greener footprint for the buildout of global digital infrastructure.’

Inligo Networks has announced that it is planning a branching connection from its Asia Connect Cable (ACC-1) to Davao in the Philippines. To this end, the company has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PLDT to act as the landing party for the ACC-1’s branching unit (to be known as the Davao branch). When completed in 2025, Inligo Networks’ 18,000km ACC-1 cable linking Singapore to Los Angeles (US) will consist of 16 fibre pairs with a total design capacity of approximately 256Tbps.

Unidata has selected ASN, owned by Nokia, and Orange Group’s Italian subsidiary Elettra to jointly deploy its Unitirreno submarine cable system connecting Sicily with two cities on the Italian mainland, Rome and Genoa. The 890km fibre-optic submarine system, which will comprise 24 fibre pairs, will link Mazara del Vallo and Genoa via the Tyrrhenian Sea; a 16-fibre pair branch meanwhile will extend to a data centre hub in Fiumicino near Rome.

Ooredoo Tunisia has signed an agreement with global telecoms service provider PCCW Global to land the PEACE Cable submarine system in Tunisia, thus opening a new gateway to Europe. The PEACE Cable will connect France to Pakistan via the Europe-Asia route, and Mombasa (Kenya) via an Indian Ocean route, providing the most direct connectivity route from Asia and East Africa to Europe, as well as reducing existing communication delays between the continents. The PEACE Cable will feature 16Tbps per fibre pair with 200Gbps per single wavelength. The branch to Tunisia is set to be operational in early 2024.

Telecom Egypt has commenced work on Red2Med, the trans-Egypt portion of the 2Africa system. Red2Med will land in Ras Ghareb on the Red Sea and Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, with the two landing stations connected over two diverse terrestrial routes. The new routes are adjacent to the Suez Canal (between Suez and Port Said). Additionally, a third new marine path, the Red Sea Festoon, is being developed linking the Ras Ghareb and Suez landing stations, while a terrestrial connection – the Al Morshedeen route – will extend between Port Said and Suez on the bank of the Suez Canal.

PLDT has started the construction of the 9,400km Asia Direct Cable (ADC) system which will link Batangas (Philippines) to China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The ADC system, which will feature a minimum of 200G DWDM design, is slated for completion by the end of 2023. The ADC consortium – including PLDT and Singtel, CAT, China Telecom, China Unicom, SoftBank Corp, Tata Communications and Viettel, selected NEC to construct the 9,400km ADC cable system, which landed in Quy Nhon, located in the province of Binh Dinh (Vietnam), in April 2022.

Elsewhere, PLDT is extending its domestic fibre-optic network across the country by adding more than 500km of submarine fibre cable links in Palawan. The cable landing in Barangay Sibaltan connects El Nido to Salvacion in Roxas, Palawan. The additional submarine cables serve to fortify PLDT’s fibre backbone and enhance the resiliency of its network in Palawan by providing alternate routes for data traffic and ensuring connectivity for customers.

Two new landing stations will be constructed in the Davao region (Philippines), with tentative launches currently scheduled for 2024, according to Samuel Matunog, president of the Information and Communications Technology Davao. The Sun Star writes that the first landing station (to be built by Converge) will be located in Davao City, while PLDT’s landing station will be located in Digos City.

The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) has announced the launch of Toptana Technologies, the first indigenous-owned cable landing station and backhaul network provider on the West Coast of the US. This new venture will bring connectivity to unserved and under-served markets across Washington State and Oregon. Toptana Technologies will provide diverse, transpacific network capacity from the Pacific Northwest to Asia-Pacific and Oceania markets, while enabling network access from the Coast to the I-5 corridor with onward connectivity to Seattle and Hillsboro (Oregon). Construction of the cable landing station will begin in mid-to-late 2023 and is expected to be operational in 2025.

Exa Infrastructure will be investing in a new terrestrial transport route to Lisbon and Sines in Portugal. The new network connects to Exa’s Spanish backbone via Madrid, Barcelona and beyond.

Lastly, FirstLight has revealed that the company is on track to complete the construction of over 1,700 route miles of fibre in New York this year. FirstLight’s low-latency, carrier grade fibre network spans the state from Buffalo to Albany, and from the Hudson Valley to Plattsburgh.

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