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

9 Dec 2016

Australian operator Vocus has signed an agreement with Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) for the construction of the Australia-Singapore Cable (ASC) linking Australia to Singapore and Indonesia. Vocus has revealed that it has now fulfilled all requirements to commence work on the project, including the renewal of a Landing Rights agreement with the MoCIT in Indonesia. Vocus has also secured the approval of Singapore’s Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), the body that replaced the Info-communications Development Authority (IDA) in September this year. When completed in August 2018, the 4,600km ASC submarine cable will have a minimum design capacity of 40Tbps. Overall investment in the ASC project is expected to reach USD170 million; payments made during FY2017 will be funded from existing debt capacity, while payments made in FY2018 and beyond will be funded from a combination of existing debt capacity, operating cash flow and expected customer pre-payments for Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRU) agreements (estimated to add up to approximately USD100 million). ASC has also signed a binding landing co-operation agreement with XL Axiata to ensure security of tenure, commercial arrangements and nationwide coverage in Indonesia through XL Axiata’s 21,000km domestic transmission network. The ASC system – combined with Nextgen’s trans-Australian fibre network (acquired by Vocus in October 2016) and Vocus’ capacity on the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) between Australia and the US – will provide an alternative route for data traffic from the Indian Ocean to North America.

JT Jersey (formerly Jersey Telecom, JT) has revealed that the first of three cables cut by a ship dragging its anchor on the seabed in the English Channel last week has been repaired by the Wave Sentinel vessel, which will now move to restore the second damaged cable, which is located some 100km away. A second cable ship, Pierre de Fermat, has already started repair works on the final damaged cable. JT expects all the work to be completed by early next week, with further resilience and capacity restored at that point. As reported by Cable Compendium last week, all communications traffic from JT was routed through a single link to France, the 425km HUGO network owned by Sure, as it was the only cable not affected by the incident.

A six-month independent investigation into the cause of the fault that led to the December 2015 outage of the Basslink submarine cable linking mainland Australia to the island state of Tasmania has failed to establish what caused the cut, Channel News reports. Basslink said in April 2016 that the fault was located around 98km from the Tasmanian coast, though due to the ‘lack of visible damage’ the cable needed to be cut in order to be fixed. The submarine link went back into operation in June this year.

International service provider RETN and Transtelecom (Kazakhstan) have announced the launch of a new terrestrial network– TRANSKZ – connecting RETN’s pan-European network from London to Frankfurt with Hong Kong. The new network is one of the shortest links between Hong Kong and the Russian border via two routes passing through Kazakhstan – via Almaty and Astana to Dostyk. RETN’s CEO Dmitry Samarin said: ‘As a result of the geographical development of our network we can now offer our partners and customers improved connectivity and resilience to the Far East. Thanks to the partnership with JSC Transtelecom RETN has surpassed the existing routes on the market.’ The TRANSKZ Network allows for transport of traffic from sub-1Gbps to Nx10Gbps between Europe and East Asia.

China Telecom Global Limited (CTG) and Nepal Telecom have reached an agreement to deliver IP services in Nepal via a newly launched terrestrial cable route connecting China and Nepal via Jilong (Rasuwa) Gateway. The new direct China-Nepal route is an alternative link, which provides the highest quality service and low latency solution for end users in Nepal. Kamini Rajbhandari, Managing Director of Nepal Telecom, said: ‘Nepal Telecom would benefit from an additional route for connectivity. We are confident that China Telecom would provide reliable service and are looking forward to establishing Nepal as a transit hub through this route.’

Elsewhere, Indian operator Bharti Airtel has activated a terrestrial fibre-optic cable link between India and Myanmar. The telco has invested an undisclosed sum in a 6,500rkm (route km) terrestrial fibre-optic, which will be connected to Airtel’s landing stations in Chennai and Mumbai. Ajay Chitkara, the company’s director & CEO (global voice & data business) told the Economic Times: ‘The terrestrial cable link is a strategic fibre asset for Airtel in the SAARC region, which will enable the company to offer robust end-to-end connectivity solutions in Myanmar, which is seeing rapid uptake of digital services as one of the last growth frontiers in Asia.’

Four Brazilian ISPs – ASE Telecom, PDN Telecom, Mega Telecomunicacoes and Geeknet – have teamed up to implement a joint backbone in the state of Bahia, called LinkaBR, imasters.com.br writes. A 120km stretch connecting Salvador to the region of Feira de Santana, and a private traffic exchange point in the region have already been completed. The fibre-optic backbone connects nine cities and is operated by LinkaBR and an unnamed partner. The in-deployment network between Feira de Santana and Santo Antonio de Jesus – linking eight cities – is expected to be completed later this month, and will be operated by LinkaBR alone. Janyel Leite of Geeknet said: ‘We imagine that we are going to more than double the capacity. Today we can say that the entire network has 20Gbps in total, and a total occupancy of 8Gbps to 9Gbps between Feira de Santana and Salvador.’

Viatel has announced a EUR1 million (USD1.07 million) investment to upgrade its dark fibre network in Cork (Ireland) to offer speeds of up to 10Gbps. Customers have already signed contracts for access to the new network, which is expected to go live at the end of January 2017. In addition, Viatel said it plans a future ‘multi-million’ investment in its Cork infrastructure to facilitate faster internet speeds between Cork and London. The new MPLS network will link Cork directly to London with internet speeds up to 100Gbps, avoiding any transit via Dublin.

New Zealand operator Spark has deployed a 200G per wavelength fibre link using Nokia’s PSS1830 Optical Transport Network (OTN). Nokia’s 200G channel can also co-exist with Spark’s 10G and 100G channels. Spark’s new 200Gbps network link connects its core network with the global gateway.

US regional fibre-based network service provider Everstream has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Lynx Network Group, a Michigan-based provider of bandwidth infrastructure services. The transaction is expected to close in January 2017, subject to customary regulatory approvals, and will be funded from cash on hand and additional debt arranged through Webster Bank. Brett Lindsey, president and CEO at Everstream, said: ‘Lynx is a strategic acquisition for Everstream that furthers our commitment to expansion in Michigan. This transaction increases the density of our existing fibre routes and adds a host of new customers to our network while continuing to expand our footprint in the region.’ Everstream’s expanded service area covers the states of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. The deal is Everstream’s second acquisition this year, following the July acquisition of Great Lakes Comnet (GLC)/Comlink, which had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Via the takeover, Everstream added 6,500 additional miles of fibre in Michigan and nearby states to its footprint.

Shaw Communications-owned data centre service provider ViaWest has signed a lease agreement with Oregon-based fibre-optic telecoms company CoastCom for connectivity rights to terrestrial fibre terminating at Hillsboro Data Centres. CoastCom operates a submarine cable landing station in Pacific City, and owns/operates redundant path diverse terrestrial fibre-optic backhaul routes from there to Hillsboro. For its part, ViaWest owns two of the six data centres on the fibre ring, which connects all six facilities to several existing and planned transpacific submarine cables. Greg Palser, Vice President for Business Development for CoastCom, said: ‘Through this agreement, ViaWest has the right to resell connectivity to clients seeking access to services or carriers in other Portland-area data centres.’

Telia Carrier has established an additional point of connectivity in Budapest (Hungary), to meet the increasing demand for wholesale IP transit and Ethernet services. The new PoP allows Telia Carrier to expand the reach of its top-two ranked global IP backbone AS1299 to the second fastest developing urban economy in Europe. Telia Carrier’s global fibre backbone has grown organically and is 100G-enabled in both Europe and North America. The company markets worldwide connectivity via more than 200 PoPs across Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East.

Finally, California-based Equinix has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase 24 new data centre sites and their operations from US telecoms giant Verizon Communications. The transaction has been valued at USD3.6 billion, and is expected to be an all-cash deal. The 24 sites contain a total of 29 data centre buildings across 15 metro markets in North and Latin America. Equinix says that the transaction expands its coverage to new markets such as Bogota (Colombia), Culpeper (Virginia) and Houston (Texas), and adds a total of more than two million gross square feet of co-location capacity across these, and existing key markets, such as Atlanta (Georgia), Denver (Colorado), Miami (Florida), New York (New York), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Seattle (Washington) and Silicon Valley (California).

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