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

1 Dec 2017

Vocus Communications has completed 50% of its Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) project, which will link Australia to Singapore and Indonesia, with an onward spur to the Christmas Islands. The USD170 million cable is currently being manufactured in Calais (France) by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), while its repeaters are being constructed in Greenwich (UK). One third of the cable and repeaters will then be offloaded at Singapore in December, with construction work scheduled to commence in February 2018 by the Ile de Re cable laying ship (in charge of the Singapore-Christmas Island section), while the remaining two thirds will be transferred to the Ile de Batz ship (Christmas Island-Perth). Vocus said that the ASC system will be completed ahead of schedule, with services set to be launched in July 2018. Vocus International’s head Luke Mackinnon said: ‘We will perform the final splice in April, enabling the commissioning to begin. That will take place in May and June, giving us a ready for service [RFS] date soon after.’ The 4,600km cable will boast a minimum of four fibre pairs with a design capacity of 40Tbps. Originally the system was a 50/50 joint venture between Vocus and NextGen Networks, though in June 2016 Vocus acquired its former partner for AUD700 million (USD530 million), paying an additional AUD27 million for the ASC and AUD134 million for the 2,100km North West Cable System (NWCS) linking Darwin and Port Hedland (both in Australia), which went live in September 2016. Elsewhere, Australian data centre services provider Metronode has revealed that the ASC system will land at its hub in Shenton Park (Perth).

AT&T has submitted a plan for the decommissioning of Segments E1 and S7 of the China-US Cable Network (CUCN) to the California State Lands Commission, due to the cables being obsolete. The removal of the segments would commence in 2018. The 30,000km CUCN – which was retired from service in December 2016 – connected Shantou (China)-San Louis Obispo (US) and Bandon (US)-Chongming (China) in a loop, with additional landing stations in Okinawa (Japan), Pusan (South Korea), Fangshan (Taiwan) and Tanguisson Point (Guam); the system had a design capacity of 80Gbps.

The NCP US Backhaul group – comprising Chunghwa Telecom, KT Corporation, China Telecom, China Mobile International and China Unicom – has selected Zayo Group for a private dedicated network (PDN) to diversely backhaul traffic from its US landing station across the western US. Zayo’s 4,300km backhaul solution will provide NCP’s US Backhaul group with connectivity from the landing station in Hillsboro (US) throughout the West Coast, including San Jose and Los Angeles, with connectivity options throughout North America. The 3,618km New Cross Pacific (NCP) Cable System – which has design capacity of 80Tbps – is expected to be completed in 2018. The system will significantly reduce the latency between the US and Asia; it will use optical amplifier technology to achieve high performance and reliability in the transmission of multiple wavelength channel signals, on multiple fibre pairs, to mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

The Sunshine Coast Council has announced that it will open a tender for the construction of a new fibre-optic network – to be deployed by 2020 – on 2 December, the Business Mirror writes. Expressions of interest can be made for one or multiple onshore/offshore components of the project, i.e. the submarine cable, the landing station/data centre and the backhaul connection from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane. All submissions will be assessed in January, with the preferred partners set to be revealed in early 2018. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in September 2015 the Sunshine Coast Council submitted a bid to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to bring a new submarine fibre-optic link to Australia’s east coast. The proposed undersea network will be a spur from a line already connecting Sydney to Guam. Two submarine cables – the PIPE Pacific Cable-1 (PPC-1) and the Australia-Japan Cable (AJC) – currently connect Sydney (Australia) to Guam.

Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) has completed a full control system upgrade and extensive overhaul of a multi-depth plough recently acquired by Orange Marine. The MD3 upgrade provides Orange Marine with state-of-the-art capabilities for the installation and burial of optical submarine cables which will be used for the first time in the installation of the Kanawa system between the overseas territories of French Guiana, Guadeloupe and Martinique. The planned infrastructure will comprise two fibre pairs with ultimate design capacity of 5Tbps. The 1,900km cable will also interconnect with the existing 1,730km Eastern Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) cable, offering a direct link between French Guiana and the American continent. Orange Group has set aside an investment of approximately EUR35 million (USD40 million) for the project. The cable is scheduled to be operational in late 2018.

Submarine cable construction solutions provider S.B. Submarine Systems (SBSS) has been selected to deliver two separate projects in Indonesia. With a combined 2,800km of fibre-optic cables to be installed and plough buried, both projects are currently in progress and will see the SBSS installation fleet occupied for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018.

Lastly, Zayo Group has agreed to acquire Spread Networks for USD127 million in cash. Zayo expects to close the deal in the first quarter of 2018. Privately held Spread Networks owns and operates an 825-mile long-haul fibre-optic network – comprising 432 fibres (less than 25% of which are in use) – between New York and Chicago, which was launched in 2010. Zayo plans to connect the network with its existing Seattle-Chicago and San Francisco-Chicago routes to create a coast-to-coast fibre network.

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