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

22 Aug 2014

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) has selected Hong Kong-based PCCW Global to construct a new international fibre-optic network to increase the Filipino operator’s connectivity in 17 countries, while simultaneously improving broadband service quality in its home market. The carrier released an email outlining its plans for the Asia-Africa-Europe 1 (AAE-1) cable system, a 25,000km submarine network that will connect Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, and Europe using 100Gbps technology with a minimum capacity use of 10Gbps. PLDT says its CAPEX spend in AAE-1 forms part of its PHP31-PHP32 billion (USD708-USD731 million) expenditure in FY 2014, and will allow the group to offer products and services, such as enterprise data and internet services to customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. With a completion date of 2016, the new cable link will connect the Philippines to France, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Djibouti, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.

The News of Brazzaville (via Agence Ecofin) reports that the members of the BRICS emerging countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have entered the final stage of construction on their optical fibre submarine cable. The paper says that the 34,000km long cable, with a capacity of 12.8Tbps, will be connected directly to the West Africa Cable System (WACS), the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and SEACOM cables, giving the BRICS members access to 21 markets across Africa. The project is scheduled to go live by end-2015 and could cost upwards of USD1 billion.

National telecoms regulator Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) has re-affirmed that ongoing repairs to the fibre-optic portion of the SEA-ME-WE 3 submarine cable linking Myanmar and Singapore, will be finished on 12 September. The optical fibre link was cut off on 12 August this year, immediately restricting total internet capacity by 75%. With the approval from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, MPT is also considering plans to replace the SEA-ME-We 3 cable which is frequently disrupted, with a higher speed SEA-ME-WE 5 cable, which is expected to be commissioned in 2015.

Viatel, the Dublin-based pan-European full-service telecommunications provider, this week announced a major EUR125 million (USD167.3 million) investment to expand its fibre infrastructure, cloud services and data centres in the country. The firm’s chief executive Colm Piercy says Viatel also plans to make several acquisitions, supported by newly announced funding partner Proventus Capital Partners. Commenting on the plans, Piercy said: ‘While we already connect 150 data centres and thousands of multinational enterprises and organisations across western Europe, this investment will now enable us to enhance our services and to extend our reach further and deeper within Europe, and to connect new locations in the USA, Canada, the Middle East and Asia.’ As part of the expansion, Viatel will also bolster its sales, technical support, product development and delivery teams in London, Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

Growth equity investor Ridgemont Equity Partners has agreed to acquire a majority stake in New Jersey-based dark fibre service provider Cross River Fiber. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Ridgemont expects to close the transaction in the fourth quarter of this year. Lightwave reports that in conjunction with the closing, Webster Bank and CoBank will provide debt financing to support the transaction as well as future growth. ‘Our partnership with Ridgemont will help ensure that Cross River has continued access to capital for growth as well as broader access to strategic and financial resources. The existing management team will continue to lead and manage the business and there will be no major changes to our day-to-day business operations,’ said Enzo Clemente, CEO of Cross River. The company supplies dark fibre services in the New York metro and New Jersey area to customers in the financial, carrier, education, healthcare, and enterprise sectors. Cross River and Ridgemont intend to use the investment to fuel the expansion of its dark fibre network into new geographic markets.

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