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

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17 Feb 2023

Two of China’s biggest telecoms operators – China Telecom and China Mobile – withdrew their combined investment of roughly 20% from the SeaMeWe-6 submarine cable project last year, the Financial Times has reported. The SeaMeWe-6 consortium, which comprises Microsoft, Orange and Telecom Egypt, opted for US company SubCom to build the system rather than Hengtong Marine – prompting the two Chinese state-owned groups to exit, the unnamed sources told the business daily. State-owned China Unicom however has remained involved with an unspecified investment in the project. The 19,200km SeaMeWe-6 submarine cable system is aiming to connect multiple countries from Singapore to France and is expected to be completed by Q1 2025.

The long-awaited South East Asia-Japan 2 Cable System (SJC2) is expected to be ready for service (RFS) in early 2024, VietnamNet reports. The 10,500km SJC2 will have a total design capacity of 126Tbps and its backers include VNPT-Vinaphone, China Mobile, Chunghwa Telecom, DongHwa Telecom, KDDI, Meta, SK Broadband, Singtel, Telin and True Corporation. The consortium signed a deployment contract with NEC back in March 2018.

The Togolese government adopted a new decree regarding the deployment of submarine cable infrastructure on 15 February, Togo First reports. As per the article, the decree aims to preserve the country’s ‘security standards and maritime sovereignty’ ahead of the arrival of the Google-backed Equiano cable later in 1Q23. Government spokesperson Ayewoudan Akodah added that construction of a cable landing station (CLS) in Lome is now underway.

Malagasy operator Telma, in partnership with British group Vodafone, has landed the 2Africa submarine cable system in Majunga, in the Northeastern region of Madagascar. Once commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2023, the infrastructure will boost Telma’s national capacities and help meet the growing need for online services. Upon completion, the 47,000km 2Africa submarine network will 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.

*Unitel* of Angola has held an inauguration ceremony for the *Unitel North Submarino Cabo (UNSC)* on Manguisseco beach in Cabinda. Unitel’s submarine cable, which was deployed by HMN Tech, is around 950km long and has a design capacity of 38.4Tbps. To ensure high reliability network connections in the Congo River estuary, the system adopts a 1+1 protected design: a repeated segment links Cacongo and N’zeto, while a non-repeated segment links Cabinda and Soyo. In addition, the UNSC system provides branch lines along the route for connections to oil and gas platforms. 

The Decisive submarine cable laying vessel is poised to complete the final leg of the Amitie submarine cable system and is on its way from Nahant Bay towards Cape Ann (Massachusetts, US). The cable will pass through Massachusetts state waters via underwater and underground ducts and will be connected to land at the Nahant Rotary in Lynn. It is expected that the cable installation will be completed over the next few months with the project wrapping up this summer. The 6,792km Amitie cable system is scheduled to go live in Q2 2023 with a capacity of over 320Tbps, connecting Boston (US) to Slough (UK) and Bordeaux (France).

Brazilian telcos have selected China’s *ZTT International Submarine Cable & System* as the cable supplier for further three stretches of the government-sponsored *Norte Conectado Program*, which is aiming to bring connectivity to the Amazon region through the deployment of a fibre-optic submarine backbone network composed of eight stretches (called ‘Infovias’) along rivers in the Amazon basin. Cables from ZTT International will be used to supply Infovias 02, 03 and 04, which will provide broadband connections to 22 municipalities in the region. In total, ZTT will produce, test and deliver 2,345km of submarine cables and 456km of terrestrial ones. All lines are scheduled to be delivered by 3Q23.

Lastly, around half of Vietnam’s international internet capacity has been restored after telcos increased data capacity via terrestrial cables and shared international traffic with each other. Nguyen Hong Thang, Director of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority, said that a coordination board was established to monitor the response to the submarine cable incident, which saw four out of the country’s five submarine cables suffer faults. Earlier this month, 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 be repaired 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 fixed in mid-March. The repair schedule for the Asia Africa Europe 1 (AAE-1)* cable system has not yet been announced.

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Angola, Brazil, China, Madagascar, Togo, Vietnam, China Mobile Communications Group, China Telecom Corporation, Telecom Malagasy (Telma), Unitel (Angola)

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