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

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24 Feb 2023

The 2Africa submarine cable system has landed in Maputo (Mozambique). Digital Realty-owned iColo revealed that the cable will be housed at its new facility in the capital city. A second landing in Nacala (Mozambique) is expected shortly, likely in partnership with Vodacom Mozambique. 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.

The 8,100km Myanmar/Malaysia-India-Singapore Transit (MIST) cable system has landed at Versova beach in Andheri West (Mumbai, India). The new cable will comprise twelve fibre pairs and will deliver a design capacity of more than 200Tbps; it is scheduled to be completed by 2023. The system is being developed by Orient Link (OLL) – a joint venture of NTT Group, the Fund Corporation for the Overseas Development of Japan’s ICT and Postal Services (JICT) and WEN Capital (WEN) – with NEC Corporation (NEC) selected to deploy the cable.

Cambodia’s Minister of Post and Telecommunications Chea Vandeth has announced that the fibre-optic cable system between Cambodia and Hong Kong is scheduled to be completed in 2024. The 2,715km submarine cable will land at Sihanoukville, with the official cited as saying: ‘This network will increase our capacity to provide high-speed and more comprehensive internet throughout the country. Once this undersea link is completed, we will no longer have to worry about internet access. The price of data will likely reduce, too.’ TeleGeography notes that Cambodia’s first submarine link, the 1,300km Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) Cable, was officially launched in March 2017, while a second system – the Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) – was lit in June 2017.

Saudi Telecom Company (stc) has announced that its Bahraini unit (in cooperation with its infrastructure arm Center3) will land the 2Africa PEARLS submarine cable system branch in Bahrain. 2Africa PEARLS – extending the 2Africa cable to the Arabian Gulf, India and Pakistan – was first announced in October 2021. 2Africa PEARLS will feature landing locations in Oman (Barka), UAE (Abu Dhabi and Kalba), Qatar (Doha), Bahrain (Manama), Kuwait (Kuwait), Iraq (Al-Faw), Pakistan (Karachi), India (Mumbai), and a fourth landing in Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar). Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) will deploy the 2Africa PEARLS branch utilising new technologies, such as Space Division Multiplexing (SDM), that allow the deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs. stc and its infrastructure subsidiary Center3 landed the 2Africa cable in Jeddah and Yanbu in Saudi Arabia last month, while a third Saudi landing is due in Duba.

Converge ICT Solutions has commenced construction works on the cable landing station in Talomo District (Davao) that will house the Philippine branch of the trans-Pacific Bifrost cable system. The Bifrost cable system is a private fibre-optic submarine cable network connecting California (US), Oregon (US), Guam, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. The Bifrost system will consist of six segments: the 16,460km main trunk will connect Grover Beach (California, US) with Alupang (Guam) and Tuas (Singapore). It will have twelve fibre pairs, each having a design capacity of 10.4Tbps using current technology. The 184km Davao Branch will connect Davao (Philippines) with a branching unit on the main trunk; it will have ten fibre pairs with a design capacity of 10.4Tbps each. The 19,888km cable system is expected to be certified ready for service (RFS) in Q2 2024.

The SeaMeWe-3 cable system has experienced a disruption on its Singapore-Vietnam leg, with all five submarine cables responsible for Vietnam’s international connectivity now malfunctioning. However, a representative of Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) said: ‘This incident would not impact the quality of internet connection, as it’s an old cable that’s expected to be decommissioned soon … We don’t use the data running on this cable for fixed broadband internet services.’ To mitigate the issues, telcos in the country have increased data capacity via terrestrial cables and are sharing international traffic with each other. 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.

The National Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed that two of Chunghwa Telecom’s submarine cables linking Taiwan and the Matsu Islands were accidentally severed by passing vessels earlier this month. NCC Vice Chairman and spokesman Wong Po-tsung said that one of the submarine telecom cables connecting Taiwan with Matsu was accidentally cut by a Chinese fishing vessel, while the other one was cut by an unknown freighter. A backup microwave transmission system has been deployed to restore critical communications between the two sides.

Nokia claims to have broken two optical transport records in real-world field trials performed over GlobalConnect’s live optical network in Europe. The demonstration used Nokia’s sixth generation super-coherent Photonic Service Engine, PSE-6s, to achieve 1.2Tbps over metro distances (118km) and 800Gbps over long haul distances (2,019km), both using a single wavelength. Data centre interconnection was also demonstrated at 800Gbps on a single wavelength over 2,000km, paving the way to single-wavelength 800GE transport across long-haul distances with no regeneration. GlobalConnect operates a fibre-optic network spanning more than 150,000km of trenched fibre; the backbone connects to local networks and data centres in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Germany.

Ciena has revealed its WaveLogic 6 technology, which is optimised for high-capacity transport required with next-generation routing data paths and associated wholesale services. Ciena’s WaveLogic 6 will support up to 1.6Tbps single-carrier wavelengths for metro ROADM deployments, 800Gbps over the longest links and 800G pluggables across 1,000km distances.

Lastly, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has announced the creation of a Critical Undersea Infrastructure Coordination Cell at NATO Headquarters. The new centre will ‘facilitate engagement with industry and bring key military and civilian stakeholders together’, while also share best practices, leverage innovative technologies and boost the security of Allied submarine infrastructure (energy and communication cables).

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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.

Bahrain, Cambodia, India, Mozambique, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Chunghwa Telecom, Ciena Corporation, Converge ICT Solutions, GlobalConnect, NEC, Nokia, NTT (NTT East & NTT West), Orient Link, Saudi Telecom Company (stc), stc Bahrain, VNPT-Vinaphone, Vodacom Mozambique

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