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

10 Nov 2017

Global Cloud Xchange (GCX), a subsidiary of Reliance Communications (RCOM), has announced plans to deploy the EAGLE submarine cable system linking Italy to Hong Kong, avoiding the outage-prone Malacca Strait. Based on 100G technology, the new cable network – scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) by the end of 2020 – will comprise four/six fibre pair systems with initial design capacity of 12Tbps-24Tbps per fibre pair. The first section of the cable, spanning 7,750km, will connect Mumbai (India) with Hong Kong via Thailand, with branching units to a number of locations, including Singapore. The second section with a length of 8,900km will route from Mumbai via the Middle East to Italy, with landing points within the Mediterranean. Alan Mauldin, Research Director at TeleGeography, commented on the new deployment: ‘India has a key strategic location in the global submarine cable network. New cables extending to the East and West from India will help to accommodate surging capacity demand and enhance network resiliency.’

Construction work on the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) connecting Africa and South America is in the final stages. Wholesale carrier Angola Cables and equipment vendor NEC have hired Orange Marine to undertake the deep-water laying phase of the cable rollout, which is expected to take 90 days and cover a distance of 6,200km of cable at depths of up to 5,000 metres. SACS is a 40Tbps cable with four fibre pairs that will connect Angola to Brazil; the cable is expected to be RFS by mid-2018.

Seaborn Networks and IOX Cable have entered into a joint agreement to provide what they claim is ‘the first subsea fibre-optic route between the US and India that will interconnect in South Africa and Brazil’. The deal will see the two submarine operators interconnect a number of submarine cables, namely Seabras-1 linking New York (US) and Sao Paulo (Brazil); the planned ARBR Brazil-Argentina link (RFS Q4 2018); the newly announced SABR system between Cape Town (South Africa) and Seabras-1 (2019); and the in-deployment IOX Cable System connecting South Africa, Mauritius and India (2019).

Huawei Marine has commenced work on a desk study and a marine survey for the Pakistan East Africa Cable Express (PEACE) submarine system, in conjunction with Tropical Science. The PEACE undersea cable network will span approximately 6,800km to connect South Asia (via Pakistan) and East Africa (via Djibouti and Kenya). The project’s backers assert the PEACE submarine network will offer the shortest submarine fibre cable route from China to Africa, with links to Europe via terrestrial fibres. The project financing will be wholly provided by the China Construction Bank. Work on the cable will begin in November, with a RFS date of Q3 2019.

Networking and infrastructure group Superloop has disclosed that ‘significant progress’ has been made on the construction of the Indigo Central (formerly APX-Central) cable stretching from Perth to Sydney (Australia). The group said that its subsidiary SubPartners and its contractor had completed the horizontal directional drilling phase of the seaward facing bore pipe project at Coogee beach in Sydney. In addition, Superloop disclosed that the marine survey for the Indigo system was 70% complete. The remaining marine survey activities – regarding the Indigo West (previously known as APX-West) cable path – are due to be completed before the end of November. The 4,600km Indigo-West system will link Perth, Australia to Tuas (Singapore) and Ankol (Jakarta). The two cables are expected to be RFS in Q1 2019. As reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, the Indigo consortium – comprising Google, Singaporean operator Singtel Group, Aussie counterpart Telstra, AARNet, Indonesia’s Indosat Ooredoo and SubPartners – signed a system supply agreement for the development of the Indigo-West and Indigo-Central submarine cable projects with Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) in April 2017.

The Asia-American Gateway (AAG) submarine cable has been ruptured yet again, thus marking the fifth time the system was damaged this year, VnExpress writes. The fault occurred at the section connecting Ho Chi Minh City with the main cable system. The 20,000km AAG cable first entered services in November 2009; it handles more than 60% of the country’s international internet traffic. The most recent fault of the system was repaired in October; AAG disclosed that the issue was a short circuit, rather than a cut caused by the Nida storm, as previously thought.

Colt Technology Services is planning to upgrade and future proof its transatlantic, transpacific and Asian cable capacity to 100Gbps, while also extending connectivity into North America. The North American expansion will connect 13 major hub cities in the US and Canada, including key data centres in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Ashburn, Newark, New York, Boston, and Toronto. This will further expand Colt’s connectivity reach beyond 800 data centres internationally. The implementation of the global subsea capacity and extension of the Colt IQ Network in the US is scheduled to be completed ‘in the first part of 2018.’

Econet Global’s subsidiary Liquid Telecom, which bought South African ISP Neotel earlier this year in a ZAR6.5 billion (USD507 million) deal, has awarded a contract to Huawei to deliver 100G upgrades to its fibre-optic network in South Africa. The first phase of the project will see Liquid Telecom upgrade 1,200km of its long-haul fibre network between Johannesburg and Cape Town, while the second and third phases of the project will extend the operator’s DWDM core network to the northwest and northeast regions of South Africa respectively.

Elsewhere in South Africa, Orange Group has opened two large-capacity IP and IPX PoPs in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The fully redundant IP/IXP connections will provide wholesale customers with access to three diverse routes, including links to the SAT3 and EASSy/SeaMeWe-5 submarine cables, while access to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) system will be added soon.

Lastly, Mali’s government has allowed China’s Huawei Technologies – responsible for the construction of the national fibre-optic backbone network – another five months to deliver the network sections already under construction. The 15 months granted in 2015 to deploy the Markala-Timbuktu, Mopti-Gao and Bamako-Koureemale sections proved to be insufficient, reports Agence Ecofin. The Council of Ministers indicated that delays were caused by factors outside of Huawei’s control, including security problems and extreme terrain in some localities. The national fibre project is expected to cost approximately XAF35.2 billion (USD62.4 million).

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