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

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10 Feb 2023

WIOCC has landed the 2Africa submarine cable system in the carrier-neutral data centre OADC Durban, located in Amanzimtoti (KwaZulu-Natal [KZN], South Africa). The facility – owned and operated by WIOCC’s Open Access Data Centres (OADC) – went live in April 2022 and will ultimately deliver 4,200m2 of flexible space, supporting 2,000m2 of IT white space. The landing of the 2Africa cable in Durban is the fourth on the coast of South Africa, following two landings in the Western Cape (Yzerfontein and Duynefontein) and one in the Eastern Cape (Gqeberha). Upon completion, the 47,000km 2Africa submarine network is deemed to be the longest in the world, connecting 46 locations in Africa, Europe and Asia. Portions of 2Africa are expected to enter commercial service by the end of 2023, delivering a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system.

The ARIMAO submarine cable system aiming to connect Cuba and Martinique is currently scheduled to go live by April 2023, according to Empresa de Telecommunicaciones de Cuba’s (ETECSA’s) President Tania Velazquez Rodriguez. The executive was cited as saying: ‘The capacities we had in ALBA-1 are saturated, so in those high-speed schedules the demand is not met. The new cable will offer important capabilities for navigation. Likewise, we must increase the capabilities of the software that enables that output so that everything flows correctly.’ Deployment of the system commenced on 9 December 2022, at Puerto Tricontinental (Cienfuegos, Cuba), with the system landing in Schoelcher (Martinique) last month. The 2,500km cable will be owned and operated by ETECSA and French company Orange, while Orange Marine has been tasked with the cable rollout.

Global Crossing Telecommunications (GCTI) has submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to renew the cable landing licence for the Atlantic Crossing 1 (AC-1) submarine cable to allow the continued operation of the system for an additional 25-year term. AC-1 is a non-common carrier system, which entered services in May 1998, connecting Shirley (New York) with Sylt (Germany), Beverwijk (the Netherlands) and Whitesand Bay (UK). It currently provides 4.9Tbps of lit capacity, with a potential of 9.6Tbps. On 2 November 2022 GCTI’s parent corporation Lumen and Colt Technology Services 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 part of the agreement, Colt will also acquire the US submarine and landing station assets that comprise the AC-1 and Yellow cable systems. GCTI affirms, however, that the renewal requested in this application is not dependent on approval or consummation of the proposed transaction with Colt.

Zain Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with Emaar, The Economic City (EEC) for the landing of the J2M subsystem connecting Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Marseille (France) in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). The J2M infrastructure forms a portion of the Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) cable system. Commenting on this milestone, Zain KSA CEO Eng. Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Deghaither said: ‘King Abdullah Economic City’s choice to land the subsea cable system (J2M) will boost the Kingdom’s attractiveness to international companies and investments in ultra-modern technologies with a focus on driving nationwide digital transformation, strengthening its connection to the world and cementing its position on the global communications map, thereby supporting the realisation of Saudi Vision 2030’s goals.’

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has signed a joint communique with Nauru and Kiribati, announcing the implementation of a long-stalled submarine cable project that will link the three Pacific island nations. The USD70 million fibre-optic project called East Micronesia Cable (EMC) System is aiming to connect Kosrae (FSM), Nauru and Tarawa (Kiribati) with the HANTRU-1 cable at Pohnpei (FSM), with funding for the deployment provided by Australia, Japan and the US. First proposed in 2017, the project hit a stumbling block when the FSM reconsidered the awarding of a contract to lay the system to Huawei Marine (now called HMN Technologies) due to a ‘security threat’. Carlson D. Apis, secretary of the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure, said the EMC project will connect all four states in the FSM: ‘It will also bring the rest of the world closer to us as we connect the FSM to the world through Guam, Kiribati and Nauru allowing for improved communications connections and providing widespread services of telehealth, tele-education and e-commerce to all citizens and residents in our country, including our remote islands.’

Three out of the four damaged undersea cables connecting Vietnam with the rest of the world are expected to be fixed between March and April 2023, the Vietnam News Agency reported. Representatives of Vietnam’s ISPs announced that three undersea cables: the Asia Pacific Gateway (APG), the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) and the Tata-TGN Intra Asia (IA) are expected to undergo reparation in either mid-March or early April. The APG – which suffered two independent faults – will undergo repairs from 22 March to 27 March for one of the issues, while the other will be addressed from 5 April to 9 April. The AAG will be repaired from 30 March to 4 April, while the IA system is expected to be repaired in mid-March. Repair schedule for the Asia Africa Europe 1 (AAE-1) cable system has not yet been announced.

Lastly, the Central African Republic (CAR) component of the Central African Backbone project (CAB-RCA) has entered its operational phase, with commercial services expected to commence ‘shortly’. Stretching over 935km, the network was deployed along two routes – Bangui-Boali-Bossembele-Yaloke-Bawi-Baoro-Carnot-Berberati-Gamboula-Kentzou (interlinking with Cameroon) and Bangui-Berberati-Nola-Bayanga-Bomassa (Congo). Project coordinator Francois-Xavier Decopo disclosed: ‘In September, we will have an operator who will be there, the government will make a public-private partnership with another managing operator who will manage the infrastructure. It will sell the capacity to telephone operators such as Orange, Telecel and Socatel.’ The construction of the CAR’s national fibre-optic backbone commenced in September 2019, after a XAF12 billion (USD19.6 million) contract (financed by the EU and World Bank) to install the cabling was signed with a South Korean delegation.

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The Submarine Cable Map is a free and regularly updated online resource from TeleGeography. Learn more about our range of maps and sponsorship opportunities over here. For more research on long-haul networks and submarine cables, peruse our Global Bandwidth Research Service.

Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Rep., Cuba, Federated States of Micronesia, France, Germany, Kiribati, Martinique, Nauru, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Colt Technology Services Group, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), HMN Tech (formerly Huawei Marine), Lumen Technologies (incl. Quantum Fiber/CenturyLink), Orange Group, Orange Marine, West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC), Zain Saudi Arabia

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