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

11 Aug 2017

Honolulu-based operator Hawaiian Telecom has revealed that it will start offering services over the newly deployed trans-Pacific Southeast Asia-United States (SEA-US) cable linking the Philippines and Indonesia to the west coast of the US via Guam and Hawaii this month. The operator said that the domestic landing station Oahu (in Makaha) was built in February, with the cable being pulled to the landing point in April after a three-year process of designing and engineering the system, building landing stations and laying the undersea cabling. The 15,000km submarine cable, which was built by equipment vendor NEC, is owned by a consortium comprising Hawaiian Telcom, Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), Globe Telecom, RAM Telecom International (RTI), Teleguam Holdings (GTA), GTI Corporation (a member of the Globe Telecom group of companies) and Telkom USA. The 100G system – which bypasses congested, earthquake-prone areas – will deliver 20Tbps capacity, and will have a minimum of 25 years of commercial life. Hawaiian Telecom’s CEO Scott Barber said: ‘We’re proud to be part of this significant achievement for Hawaii as SEA-US is the most technologically advanced trans-Pacific cable system that will meet the growing broadband demands between the US and Asia … This landmark cable system ensures Hawaiian Telcom has the capacity to cost-effectively support bandwidth requirements of cloud, streaming video, Internet of Things, and new applications that spur innovation and economic growth for Hawaii’s residents and businesses.’

A technical fault of the 12,091km IMEWE cable linking India and Europe via the Middle East, which occurred near Saudi Arabia on 5 August, has now been fixed. Sikander Naqi, Chief Business Development Officer at Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), told Daily Pakistan: ‘Experts initially thought the cut was under the sea but after a bit of research, they figured out that the cable that was cut is on land. It has now been repaired and services are back to normal.’ The country reportedly faces an estimated loss of PKR1 billion (USD9.3 million) due to the outage. According to ProPakistani, two other submarine cables serving the country –*SeaMeWe-4* and TW1 – have been offline since last month due to similar faults, which resulted in a bottleneck after IMEWE’s breakdown. The outages of these submarine cables reportedly left Pakistan relying on the SeaMeWe-3, SeaMeWe-5 and AAE-1 submarine cables, out of which SeaMeWe-3 operates in a limited capacity, while the other two were installed only recently.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has revealed plans to enter into negotiations with the China Exim Bank for the full funding of the NIPTI 2 national backbone network, estimated to cost NGN100 billion (USD272 million), The Daily Times writes. The fibre-optic rollout will complement the NIPTI 1 programme – which covers most of the southern states and is 80% complete – by extending the network nationwide. The Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu said: ‘When concluded, it will not only cover federal ministries, department agencies and all government’s parastatals, but there will be enough for commercialisation to the private sector, particularly GSM companies and other ICT industries. So, we hope that Nigeria will be making a lot of money from this particular facility when completed.’

California-based broadband provider Consolidated Smart Systems has selected Zayo Group Holdings for a dark fibre solution to enhance and expand its service capabilities in Southern California. The deal will expand Zayo’s existing fibre footprint in the Los Angeles metro area, bringing it within proximity of several high-profile clients and additional prospects. The solution consists of approximately 190 miles of dark fibre, which includes existing network and new build. Zayo will manage the infrastructure, providing a private dedicated network (PDN) that will start with 10G Ethernet services to each location.

Private investment group Abu Dhabi Investment Group (ABDIG) has agreed to acquire 62.5% of Fiber Prime Telecommunication (FPT), while also disclosing plans to restructure the company to become a ‘top-tier subsea cable company’ with an investment of USD5 billion in submarine projects once the takeover is finalised. FPT has direct presence in more than 15 countries and extensive network partnerships covering any location in the Americas and Europe, with expansion plans to extend capabilities to Asia. The combination between ABDIG and FPT would create a market leader managing more than USD10 billion of subsea, IT and telecom assets worldwide.

Franco Bassanini, chairman of Open Fiber – the wholesale-only venture of Italian utility Enel and state lender CDP – has revealed that his company would be interested in acquiring the fixed copper network of Telecom Italia (TIM) if it were spun off. La Stampa cited the executive as saying: ‘Open Fiber, or its shareholders, would be in a good position to acquire Telecom Italia’s network, since it could make the most of the synergies between the two networks and speed up a migration from copper to fibre.’ He added that a potential spin-off of the former incumbent’s network would ‘make it easier to reach some sort of agreement or tie-up that avoids infrastructure duplication and serves to speed up the rollout of the next generation’s network’.

Stockholm-based alternative investment firm EQT has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a majority stake in fibre-based data and broadband service provider Spirit Communications from its founding partners, who will retain a significant ownership interest in the company. The parties have agreed not to disclose financial details of the transaction, which is subject to customary regulatory approval and other closing conditions. Spirit currently operates over 9,000 miles of fibre across 17 metro markets in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. TeleGeography notes that Spirit Communications is the second US operator to strike a deal with EQT this year. In February the Scandinavian company agreed to pay USD950 million for Lumos Networks, a fibre-based service provider active in Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and Kentucky.

Elsewhere, US-based provider of managed network communication solutions GlobeComm Systems has revealed that it has been acquired by an investor group led by HPS Investment Partners and funds managed by Tennenbaum Capital Partners (TCP) from its current owner, an unnamed New York-based private equity firm. GlobeComm expects the transaction – which is pending customary regulatory approvals – to be completed in the third quarter of 2017. Terms of the definitive agreement were not disclosed.

Lastly, Pan-African telecoms company SEACOM has announced its acquisition of South African ISP and managed services provider MacroLan. The acquisition is part of SEACOM’s strategy to extend the reach of its fibre network to more metropolitan areas in South Africa and to bolster its managed services capability for business customers. MacroLan manages an expanding fibre network serving a growing number of Cape Town’s commercial users.

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