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

13 Oct 2017

Submarine cable operators Seaborn Networks and AquaComms have agreed to create ‘a new, next-generation subsea route between South America and Europe’ by linking their respective undersea cables. The enlarged infrastructure will connect both North and South America with Europe. Seaborn operates Seabras-1, the first direct submarine cable route between Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the US, while AquaComms operates the AEConnect cable, which links New York and London via Dublin. The two networks will interconnect in Secaucus, New Jersey, the location of Seaborn’s primary network operations centre, with both the operators planning to offer diverse backhaul and PoPs in American cities. Earlier this year, Seaborn announced plans to extend its cable network from Brazil to Argentina.

The second stage of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable project aiming to link Sao Tome and Principe to South Africa has commenced, Diario de Noticias writes. Emery d’Alva, Director of Marketing at Companhia Santomense de Telecomunicacoes (CST), is quoted as saying: ‘Construction is now underway, and [the cable] will be built along the southern part of the West African coast, which will link Sao Tome to South Africa, go through the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Namibia and Angola.’ The 17,000km ACE cable currently serves 18 countries, with landing stations in France, Portugal, the Canary Islands, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. (Note: two landlocked countries, Mali and Niger, are connected via a terrestrial extension.) The second stage of the ACE cable is expected to enter commercial operations in Q1 2019.

Plans are underway for a new submarine cable spur connecting to the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) in Wales, WalesOnline reports. The plan seeks to utilise the existing GTT Express (formerly Hibernia Express) transatlantic submarine cable, by deploying a spur in the Bristol Channel to make landfall at Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan. The GBP37 million (USD49 million) project seeks to build an international internet gateway and submarine cable landing station in Barry and roll out a 300km ‘multi-Terabit fibre spine’, which would be operational by 2021, serving all ten local authority areas in CCR (Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan). The proposal notes that there is the possibility of running part of the required ducting for the fibre spine alongside the electric wires needed for the electrification of the core Valley Lines. The network would be owned and managed by the CCR and provide connectivity to its key economic assets, including hospitals, public buildings, railway stations, universities, colleges, enterprise zones and business parks. Further, the network would be opened for commercial providers to offer services.

Cape Verde has presented a proposal to deploy a fibre-optic cable directly connecting all member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Diario de Noticias, citing economy minister Jose Goncalves, reports that the cable will be called Amilcar Cabral, and connect Cape Verde to the rest of the region via an undersea link to Guinea-Bissau and the Mano River countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea-Conakry). The minister indicated that the new infrastructure will be co-funded by several countries.

Maltese telco GO has confirmed that it is in the process of upgrading its two submarine cables (GO-1 Mediterranean Cable System and Italy-Malta), which connect Malta with mainland Europe, via Sicily. The upgrades will more than double the data capacity of these links. Further, GO is also evaluating the feasibility of creating a new spur from an existing submarine cable which currently links Tunis (Tunisia) with Marseille (France). If it comes to fruition, this would be the first link that is not entirely dependent on mainland Italy.

The installation of the first direct submarine fibre-optic cable between Europe and Latin America – dubbed EllaLink (previously known as EulaLink) – will begin by early 2018, and will take 24 months to deploy, reports Correio de Manha. The 10,119km-long EllaLink will connect data centres in Madrid (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal) and Sao Paulo (Brazil), with branches to Fortaleza (Brazil), the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira and the island nation of Cape Verde. Brazilian state-owned telecoms infrastructure provider Telebras will have a 35% stake in the cable, while Spain’s IslaLink will hold 45%; the remaining 20% will be owned by a yet-to-be identified Brazilian shareholder. As reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium in June 2015, the EC will invest around EUR25 million (USD28 million) in the new cable (said to have design capacity of 72Tbps) via the Building Europe Link to Latin America (BELLA) project, which was put forward by European research network DANTE and its Latin American counterpart RedCLARA. The system will be deployed by Nokia’s Alcatel Submarine Networks unit.

Hawaiki Submarine Cable announced that its submarine cable system successfully landed in Pacific City, Oregon on 10 October. The 15,000km trans-Pacific cable that will link Australia and New Zealand to the continental US, as well as Hawaii and American Samoa, with options to expand to additional South Pacific islands.

China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC) and state-backed provider Congolese Society of Post and Telecommunication (Societe Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications, SCPT) have concluded the second phase of the national fibre-optic network project, with the completion of a 3,300km link connecting the capital Kinshasa with Kasumbalesa on the Zambian border. Agence Ecofin reports that construction was started in March 2014 and cost USD221 million, financed via an agreement with the China EXIM bank.

Brazil’s Vogel Telecom has confirmed that it will launch its national backbone at the beginning of 2018. The robust structure will allow the company – currently present in 13 states and the Federal District – to expand services to corporate clients, operators and government agencies in other regions. The first stage of the rollout will link the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Parana, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, through 4,000km of fibre. The new network will have initial capacity of 5Tbps.

Cinia Group has confirmed that the C-Lion1 branch connection to Hanko, on the south coast of Finland, is close to completion. The new connection is expected to improve business prospects and job creation in the Western Uusimaa region.

Elsewhere, Tele-Post Greenland said it completed the installation of the northern branch of its sea cable in Aasiaat on 8 October. It said the Greenland Connect North project is now in its final phase. Testing will take place in the next few weeks, before connections are made with Nuuk.

Finally, Iran and Armenia have agreed to provide Turkmenistan with cross border data transit services, the Mehr News Agency reports. Iran’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology was cited as saying: ‘In the past two years, Iraq’s transit to Europe via Armenia has increased by ten times. In light of that, we decided to conduct trilateral negotiations in order to pave the way for international transit to Turkmenistan, in the same way.’

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