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

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12 May 2023

Sparkle has announced the landing of its private submarine cable BlueMed in Palermo (Italy), marking the completion of the deployment of the Genoa-Golfo Aranci-Pomezia-Palermo Tyrrhenian section. BlueMed is part of the Blue submarine cable project, built in partnership with Google and other operators. Laying began in January 2023 with the branch to Sardinia (Golfo Aranci) and continued in February-March with the landing of the shore ends in Pomezia and Genoa. From the Ligurian capital, the cable continues southwards to Palermo from where it will proceed through the Strait of Messina and the Mediterranean Sea down to the Red Sea. The first section, Genoa-Golfo Aranci-Pomezia-Palermo, will be operational by the end of May 2023, while the further extension to Corsica in Bastia will be completed in the autumn.

Telecom Egypt (TE) has completed the installation of the second and final 2Africa submarine cable landing in Port Said. The news comes five months after the first successful landing of 2Africa cable in the city of Ras Ghareb in the Red Sea. Upon completion in 2024, 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.

Orange Tunisia has inked an agreement with Medusa Submarine Cable System to host the new cable in Bizerte (Tunisia). Medusa will connect a number of countries along the Mediterranean by 2025, with 16 landing points in different countries including Portugal, Morocco, Spain, Algeria, France, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. As currently planned, the Medusa cable will span 8,760km and will consist of 24 fibre pairs, offering 480Tbps (20Tbps per fibre pair) of design capacity. The Medusa system is also set to land at Orange Group’s cable landing station (CLS) in Marseille (France), and AFR-IX’s recently completed Barcelona CLS, which is also the landing point for the Meta-led 2Africa cable.

Australian telco Vocus has completed its AUD100 million (USD68 million) segment of Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore Cable (DJSC) connecting South East Asia to Darwin (Australia). The 1,000km DJSC interconnects with the 4,600km Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) between Perth and Singapore and the 2,100km North West Cable System (NWCS) between Port Hedland and Darwin. Deployed by the Ile de Re cable ship owned by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), the DJSC system will have a maximum capacity of 40Tbps and will feature 14 repeaters, using DWDM technology. The new infrastructure will also interconnect with Vocus’ in-progress Project Horizon from Perth to Port Hedland; construction of the new 2,000km fibre-optic route will commence soon.

The European Investment Bank has proposed a EUR20 million (USD21.9 million) grant for a submarine cable project aiming to link EU member states to the Caucasus across the Black Sea, the Financial Times writes. The project aims to reduce the region’s ‘dependency on terrestrial fibre-optic connectivity transiting via Russia’, the EC said in a policy document. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in December 2022 Romania, Hungary, Azerbaijan and Georgia signed an agreement for the deployment of a submarine electricity cable system, which also includes the rollout of a telecoms submarine cable system from Georgia to Romania across the Black Sea. Georgian transmission system operator GSE disclosed that a feasibility study for the 1,100km system – carried by Italian consulting firm CESI – is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023 and that the cable could be built in late 2029.

The Vietnam Telecommunications Authority (VNTA) has revealed that the Tata-TGN Intra Asia (IA) and the SeaMeWe-3 cable systems – which have suffered faults since January 2023 – have now been repaired. According to the authority, two additional malfunctioning systems, the Asia Africa Europe 1 (AAE-1) and the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) will be repaired by the end of May, while the Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) – which suffered two independent faults in December 2022 and January 2023 (fixed) – will undergo repairs in June.

Solomon Islands Submarine Cable Company Limited (SISCC) has revealed that the domestic submarine cable system suffered a fault on 10 May affecting internet services in parts of the country, RNZ Pacific writes. Solomon Islands Telekom said the fault affected fixed broadband, mobile and fixed voice services in the provincial centres of Auki on Malaita, Noro in Western Province and Taro in Choiseul province. The damage to the cable was caused by the anchor of a ‘foreign flagged vessel’, with repair works potentially taking between three to five weeks.

Global carrier Arelion (formerly Telia Carrier) has deployed a new, high-capacity route from Reston (Virginia, US) down the East Coast, connecting directly to the Telxius CLS in Virginia Beach, then continuing to Arelion’s new PoP in Raleigh (North Carolina), before connecting into Charlotte (North Carolina) and continuing south into Jacksonville and Miami (Florida). The new route leverages Arelion’s existing metro reach in Ashburn, Virginia and Reston, enabling terrestrial backhaul options north with diversity from Ashburn and south with diversity from Northern Virginia. As part of this network expansion, Arelion now offers five diverse optical systems serving Charlotte. The new deployment also provides additional capacity and capability to support the terrestrial transport of multi-terabit submarine traffic from new submarine cables to Latin America and the Caribbean terminating in Jacksonville and South Florida.

Infinera has announced the successful completion of a simulated intercity network trial for Telstra InfraCo’s intercity fibre project in Australia. The trial delivered a leading-edge 61.3Tbps of unregenerated data transmission capacity on a fibre pair over the equivalent of 1,240 route kilometres between Melbourne and Sydney. The network trial was implemented using Infinera’s 800G-capable ICE6 coherent solution and Corning Incorporated’s SMF-28 ULL fibre with advanced bend, demonstrating the high-performance capability of the express network, which is part of the intercity fibre network Telstra InfraCo is building across Australia.

Aqua Comms has announced its first live commercial 400Gbps Ethernet (GE) Trans-Atlantic service from London (UK) to New York (US) for Energy Sciences Network (ESnet). The new 400GE Aqua Comms circuit replaces an existing 100GE Aqua Comms New York-London circuit in ESnet’s network. The Aqua Comms network utilises Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme submarine network solution, powered by WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optics and Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) advanced software capabilities.

MOX Networks (MOX) has collaborated with Ciena to increase optical network capacity along its next-generation dark fibre network in the US. MOX will be deploying Ciena’s 6500 flexible grid Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer (ROADM) photonic layer with WaveLogic 5 Extreme (WL5e) coherent optics to enable multi-terabit capacity on its networks. Both 100G and 400G connectivity will be offered on MOX network segments in the Pacific Northwest region and on Midwest fibre routes connecting the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions.

Lastly, West Africa’s connectivity and data centre services provider MainOne has enhanced its interconnection capabilities by using Equinix Fabric to extend its network reach and provide its enterprise customers with on-demand connectivity to cloud providers, remote markets, and local infrastructure over the MainOne network and onto Platform Equinix. Equinix Fabric is an on-demand, software-defined interconnection service, which provides global reach to the Equinix network of over 245 International Business Exchange (IBX) data centres located in 71 major metros and 32 countries around the world. Equinix Fabric connects distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems on Platform Equinix.

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