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

31 Mar 2017

The Tasman Global Access (TGA) cable linking Raglan (New Zealand) with Narrabeen Beach (Australia) has entered commercial services. The 2,300km direct link incorporates two fibre pairs with a current design capacity of 20Tbps. Initially, the TGA system was scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) in December 2016, though the completion of the cable was delayed by three months (to March 2017) due to damage sustained by the plough of cable-laying ship Ile de Re, which had to return to Nelson (New Zealand) for repairs. New Zealand’s communications minister Simon Bridges said: ‘This cable is another step towards ensuring we’ve got affordable and robust connections with the rest of the world. It also ensures that domestic demands for data are supported by international capacity, setting us up for the future.’ As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, the TGA consortium – comprising Spark New Zealand (formerly Telecom New Zealand), Telstra and Vodafone – awarded the TGA deployment contract to Paris-based equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent (now part of Nokia) in January 2015. The new system will provide an alternative path for trans-Tasman traffic – currently routed via Tasman-2 and Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) – and is expected to significantly improve New Zealand’s international connectivity options.

Filipino telecoms operator Globe Telecom has revealed that the trans-Pacific Southeast Asia-US (SEA-US) submarine cable has landed in the Barangay Talomo landing station in Davao City (located on the island of Mindanao). Mike Frausing, senior advisor at Globe Telecom, said: ‘We are very near commercial operations. Once it commences, the cable system will be able to provide greater route flexibility and better future support for bandwidth-dependent applications and services consistent with the growing trend of companies shifting their business-critical operations to digital.’ The 15,000km SEA-US submarine cable will link Manado (Indonesia) to Los Angeles (US) via Oahu (Hawaii) and Piti (Guam), with a fibre-optic cable branch to Davao. The cable – which is estimated to cost roughly USD250 million – will provide an additional 20Tbps capacity via two fibre pairs, connecting Indonesia and the Philippines to the US with 100Gbps technology. The system is expected to ease the Philippine’s dependence on cable systems routed through the disaster-prone northern part of the country.

Internet users in Vietnam are expected to experience slow speeds until next month, as two systems serving the region are currently disrupted, newspaper Tuoi Tre quoted local ISPs as saying. A new fault was discovered on the Vietnam-Hong Kong section of the Tata TGN-Intra Asia (TGN-IA) cable, following a report last month that the Vietnam-Singapore section of the system was out of service; the Vietnam-Singapore section is expected to be back in operation by 1 April, with maintenance work expected to commence on the Vietnam-Hong Kong section shortly after. Meanwhile, the patch-up of the Asia America Gateway (AAG) undersea cable linking Vietnam with Hong Kong and the US is expected to be further delayed, as the designated repair vessel is not expected to reach the damaged section before 5 April.

TE SubCom has demonstrated what it claimed was ‘a new transmission record of 70.4Tbps capacity over 7,600km’, utilising SubCom’s new C+L technology. The new platform effectively doubles the available transmission bandwidth of the repeater by an unprecedented factor of two in supported capacity per fibre pair when compared to the same number of fibre pairs in traditional C-band technology. SubCom will deploy C+L in an unnamed submarine cable system, which commenced manufacturing in late 2016.

Russian communications service provider TransTeleCom has moved all of its international backbone traffic to a Long Haul DWDM network spanning 20,000km. The network has current capacity of up to 80 optical channels with bandwidth of 100G each. The operator also claimed to have built ‘the world’s longest non-regenerated transmission span in landline networks’ of more than 4,000km (the length of the redundant route from St. Petersburg to Omsk). Going forward, TransTeleCom plans to increase the number of traffic input/output points as part of the expansion of the Long Haul DWDM network, thus increasing network availability for both foreign and domestic customers.

The National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U) has announced that Phase Three of the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and eGovernment Infrastructure (NBI/EGI) project – comprising the deployment of 756km of fibre-optic cabling – was completed in December 2016, covering the districts of Masaka, Mbarara and Kabale, and extending connectivity to neighbouring Tanzania (at Mutukula) and Rwanda (Katuna). The next stage of the NBI project, aiming to link Atiak with Karuma via Moro, Arua and Pakwatch, is scheduled to be completed in the 2017-18 financial year, while Phase Five (Gulu-Kitgum-Kotido-Moroto-Napianyenya-Siroko-Mbale, Siroko-Kapchorwa and Soroti-Moroto) is currently in planning stage. ‘With the completion of Phase Three of the NBI there is development of an alternative geographically redundant route to the undersea cables connecting to the global communications infrastructure. There is also anticipated reduction in the costs of internet bandwidth as a result of increased competitiveness through the increase in the number of upstream providers available to IT providers in Uganda,’ the regulator said in a press release. TeleGeography notes that the government contracted Huawei for the deployment of the backbone network in late 2006; the NBI/EGI project was due to take 27 months and cost UGX201 billion (USD55 million) to compete, though it subsequently experienced a number of delays.

Austria’s full-service provider Salzburg AG is deploying Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform to introduce a 100G coherent core network, thus improving network resiliency, reducing costs and increasing capacity. The upgrade will also help prevent disruptions due to fibre maintenance work for Salzburg AG’s customers and increase the reliability in the core of its energy and communication networks.

Lastly, South African state-owned operator Broadband Infraco has revealed that its fibre-optic backbone network currently spans 14,661km, with maximum capacity on some of the routes going up to 170Gbps. The operator also said that it has completed the upgrade of the fibre link from Oberholzer to Ramatlabama, thus allowing more services to be provided to neighbouring Botswana.

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