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

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25 Nov 2022

Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) has secured the approval of the Indian government to construct a submarine cable system connecting Mumbai (India) to Europe and Asia. The system will comprise two main cables: the India Europe Xpress (IEX) and India Asia Xpress (IAX). The IAX, which is expected to be ready for service (RFS) by the end of 2023, will connect Hulhumale in the Maldives directly with Mumbai and Singapore, with additional branches to five countries, including Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The IEX cable, meanwhile, will stretch from India to the Middle East and Europe (via a landing in Savona, Italy).

The 2Africa fibre-optic cable has landed in Ras Ghareb (Egypt). Upon completion, the 47,000km 2Africa submarine network is expected to be the longest in the world, connecting 46 locations in Africa, Europe and Asia. The cable is expected to go live by the end of 2024, delivering a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system.

Vodafone Cook Islands has switched its internet services for the Cook Islands from Tahiti (French Polynesia) over to the new ‘western route’ of the Manatua-One Polynesia cable system to Sydney (Australia). In late September 2022 Avaroa Cable completed the commissioning of the new route on the Manatua-One Polynesia cable system, in cooperation with the Samoa Submarine Cable Company, Hawaiki Cable, Ciena and Equinix. Honourable Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, said: ‘The opening up of the western route on the Manatua cable system to Sydney is another significant milestone of the government’s effort in this sector. It follows on from the establishment of the Manatua Consortium, landing of the cables and the formation of Avaroa Cable Limited, the deregulation of the telecommunications sector and the establishment of the Competition Regulatory Authority.’

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has notified the Bahamas Telecommunications Company Limited (BTC) that the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector is reviewing its application for the continued operation of the Bahamas 2 submarine cable for an additional 25-year term. 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).

Camelot Landing, Lumen Technologies and Colt Technology Services have submitted an application to the FCC for the transfer of control of the non-common carrier submarine cable landing licences for the Atlantic Crossing-1 (AC-1) and Yellow submarine cable systems from Lumen to Colt. On 2 November 2022 Lumen and Colt entered into an exclusive arrangement for the proposed sale of Lumen’s EMEA telecoms business to Colt for USD1.8 billion. Under the agreement, Colt will purchase the equity and (where applicable) assets of Lumen’s EMEA telecoms companies. As relevant here, Colt will also acquire the US submarine and landing station assets that comprise the AC-1 and Yellow cable systems. Prior to the closing of the transaction, Lumen’s subsidiaries GCTI and Level 3 will assign all US AC-1 and Yellow assets – including the submarine cable landing licences – to Camelot, a Delaware company formed for this purpose. Upon securing required regulatory approvals, Colt Internet US – which is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Colt—will acquire Camelot through a transfer of Camelot’s equity pursuant to the agreement. Upon closing, Camelot will therefore become an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Colt. The 14,301km AC-1 system was certified RFS in 1998 and connects Sylt (Germany) to the Netherlands, the UK and the US. The 7,001km Yellow system, meanwhile, was RFS in September 2000 and links Bude in the UK to Bellport (New York, US).

Fincantieri has secured a EUR200 million (USD208 million) contract for the design and construction of a second cable-laying vessel for Prysmian Group. The delivery of the new vessel – which will be fitted for advanced subsea operations – is scheduled for 2025.

Lastly, CSquared has announced a new partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to build a 350km national fibre-optic backbone in Liberia. According to a press release, the network will extend from the capital city Monrovia to the borders with Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea, linking more than 13 cities along the way. The new fibre backbone route will also provide Liberia with critical redundancy to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable, currently Liberia’s single source for international bandwidth, and will become part of CSquared’s West Africa backbone carrying traffic from Liberia to Nigeria.

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