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

16 Jan 2015

Global Cloud Xchange (GCX, previously known as Reliance Globalcom) has shortlisted three vendors for the construction of its India Cloud Xchange (ICX) subsea cable, which will allow the company to bypass existing outage-prone terrestrial routes between Mumbai (west) and Chennai (east). GCX CEO Bill Barney confirmed: ‘In the coming months we will finalise the vendor selection process and initiate process to construct the ICX cable which will integrate with our GCX global network infrastructure for direct connectivity to major business centres in Asia, Middle East, North America and Europe.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium in June 2014, GCX announced plans to deploy a 5,060km submarine cable between Mumbai, India and Singapore by circumventing the country’s coastline to link India’s west coast directly to Singapore. The ICX cable, estimated to cost around USD200 million, will be based on 100Gbps technology, with four fibre pair system. In addition, the new cable will deliver termination into the Middle East, Europe and to the US east coast via interconnection with GCX’s existing Falcon, Hawk and FA-1 systems. The ICX cable will also have a branch landing at either or both of Trivandrum and Chennai. The ICX cable is expected to be ready for service in Q2 2016.

The World Bank has given an update on the expected timetable for the Republic of Benin to be connected to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) high speed international submarine cable, which is currently in its second-phase rollout of connectivity to additional countries on Africa’s Atlantic coast. The Bank stated that a technical team from Alcatel-Lucent – the Orange-led consortium cable’s main technology partner – deployed equipment in the transmission room of the Cotonou (Benin) cable landing station in late-December 2014, while the cable laying ship is scheduled to reach Cotonou on 24 February 2015, and Benin will be connected to ACE on 3 March 2015, according to Alcatel-Lucent projections.

Private investment fund Partners Group has signed an agreement to provide all of the equity funding needed for the construction of Seabras-1, the first direct subsea fibre-optic cable between New York (US) and Sao Paulo (Brazil). Seabras-1, which is being developed by Seaborn Networks (Seaborn), is estimated to cost approximately USD500 million. In addition to Partners Group’s equity investment, Seaborn has mandated Natixis, a major French bank, to act as sole structuring bank, underwriter and lead arranger for USD270 million in senior secured project debt financing. When completed in 2016, the six fibre-pair subsea system will extend 10,400km, with a maximum upgradeable capacity of 64Tbps. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in September 2014 Seaborn sold capacity on Seabras-1 to Microsoft Corp.

Russian company Polarnet Project is reportedly planning to announce a tender for a new contractor to deploy the long-dormant trans-Arctic fibre-optic cable system ROTAKS, ComNews.ru writes. US-based Tyco Electronics SubCom (TES) was awarded a contract to implement the fibre-optic system in 2012, although the strained relations between Russia and the US were cited as the reason behind the lack of progress. The final decision on the new contractor will reportedly be taken in mid-February, with Polarnet planning to obtain a construction permit sometime in 2015. When completed, the system will connect Bude (UK) to Tokyo (Japan) via Murmansk (Anadyr) and Vladivostok (Russia).

Hibernia Networks has activated service on six new long haul fibre routes in the north-east US. The new routes, which use Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform, represent a multi-year effort to reduce latency and increase the diversity of the largest capacity terrestrial component of Hibernia’s global network. The long-haul dark fibre routes provide two diverse paths from Ashburn to Hibernia’s landings in Boston and Halifax, more direct routing between New York and Toronto and Chicago and New York, and additional diversity through Albany, thus avoiding existing critical infrastructure along the I-95 corridor and adjacent markets. Elsewhere in the US, Zayo has kicked off construction of a new fibre route from Salt Lake City, Utah to Sacramento, California. The network expansion will add more than 800 route miles to Zayo’s owned long haul network which currently spans more than 16,000 route miles across the United States and Europe.

Philippines-based Globe Telecom has revealed that its Singaporean unit has received a licence for facilities-based operations (FBO) from the Info-communications Development Authority (IDA). The telco said the FBO licence will allow GlobeTel Singapore to provide international cable capacities and other telecoms services in Singapore. In addition, the offering will boost connectivity requirements between Singapore and the Philippines and will provide alternate and redundant cable paths from Singapore to Hong Kong and Japan transiting the Philippines, ensuring stable connectivity. GlobeTel Singapore is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GTI Buisness Holdings, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Globe Telecom.

Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) is set to export bandwidth to Tripura, a north-eastern state in India, via a 22km fibre-optic link from Brahmanbaria to Akhaura, The Daily Star reports. According to BSCCL’s managing director Monwar Hossain, the company is reportedly in the midst of signing a deal with state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for 10Gbps of initial capacity, which will increase gradually. The fibre link is scheduled to be completed within four months. The executive added that two other Indian states – Meghalaya and Assam – have also expressed interest in acquiring bandwidth from BSCCL.

Huawei Marine Networks has announced the successful completion of sea trials for its second-generation Repeater ‘RPT 1660 R2’ and Branching Unit ‘BU 1650 R2’. The products were tested in the extreme winter conditions of the Atlantic Ocean on-board the Cable Innovator, the flagship of parent company Global Marine Systems. The RPT 1660 R2 provides an optical loop-back facility for performance monitoring and accurate fault location, while the BU 1650 R2 enables fibre pairs to be routed to multiple destinations in a submarine communications system, either through the direct routing of fibres or through an optical add drop function which facilitates sharing of bandwidth. The 30-day trials were held in November off the Portuguese coastline.

Optical transport systems developer Infinera and Australian telco Telstra have successfully demonstrated Polarisation Multiplexed 8 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (PM-8QAM) technology across 2,200km of ‘Segment F’ of the Reach North Asia Loop (RNAL), which is expected to increase the capacity of a single fibre by 50%. TeleGeography notes that Segment F of the RNAL runs between Wada in Japan and Pusan in South Korea. In addition, the RNAL trial included demonstrations of advanced coherent transmitter-based Nyquist DWDM pulse shaping, and both transmitter and receiver-based non-linear compensation technologies. As part of a larger showcase of submarine super-channel capabilities, Infinera and Telstra also demonstrated Polarisation Multiplexed 3 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (PM-3QAM) on a 4,250km link between California and Hawaii.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has announced that it has added new access points to its internet backbone in seven cities, including Chengdu, Xi’an and Zhengzhou, Network World reports. The construction project cost CNY2.9 billion (USD467.9 million) and comprised the laying of 3,000km of fibre-optic cabling. According to the ministry, the additional internet infrastructure will help accelerate access speeds across the country and ensure China’s broadband stays functional, as ‘a failure at one access point could easily cause a large-scale paralysis’. The ministry was cited as stating: ‘Now by having ten different backbone access points, the traffic going through Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou will lessen, and the internet flow overall will be more balanced’.

CEC Liquid Telecom (Zambia) has revealed plans to construct a new fibre link between the capital Lusaka and Victoria Falls in Livingstone, in order to serve both retail and wholesale customers with what the company has claimed will be ‘the most reliable, high-speed broadband connectivity in southern Zambia’. With the cost for the turnkey 500km fibre link construction and terminal equipment estimated at USD5 million, the new route will reportedly start in Lusaka, transiting through eight southern circuit towns including Kafue, Mazabuka, Monze, Choma and Kalomo, before terminating at Victoria Falls in Livingstone. At Victoria Falls, the new link will interconnect with Liquid Telecom Group’s fibre network in Zimbabwe, providing the company with its third route into and out of Zambia. Following completion of the new infrastructure, which is expected by June 2015, CEC Liquid Telecom (Zambia) will continue construction with a view to extending connectivity to the border towns of Kazungula and Sesheke, to link with Namibia and Botswana.

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