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

5 Jan 2018

Tropic Science and Huawei Marine Networks have revealed that the desktop study (DTS) for the Pakistan East Africa Cable Express (PEACE) cable linking South Asia (via Pakistan) and East Africa (via Djibouti and Kenya) has almost been completed, with Huawei scheduled to commence a marine survey for the system on 15 January. The first phase of the project – spanning approximately 6,800km – will link Pakistan (Gwadar and Karachi), Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya, while the second phase will provide an extended option to South Africa and Europe, with a total length of roughly 13,000km. 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 ready for service (RFS) date of Q3 2019. The submarine cable system, based on 200G DWDM technology, will boast up to 60Tbps of design capacity.

Installation works for the Samoa Submarine Cable Company-backed Tui-Samoa undersea cable has now been completed, with the 1,693km submarine cable system scheduled to be RFS next month, Radio New Zealand reports. The 8Tbps Tui-Samoa network will connect Samoa to Wallis and Futuna, Vanua Levu (the second largest island of Fiji) and on to Suva on the Fiji mainland.

Dr. Peng Group, China’s largest non-state-owned telecoms operator providing domestic and international MPLS IPVPN, data centres, cloud and OTT solutions, has agreed to acquire 93% equity stake in Pacific Light Data (PLD) Holdings Limited for USD90 million via its subsidiary Dr. Peng Holding Hong Kong, Sina Technology writes. PLD was originally a subsidiary of China Soft Power Technology Group, a company established in the British Virgin Islands exclusively for the implementation of the Pacific Light Cable Project (PLCN) cable in 2015, which is aiming to link El Segundo (California, US) with Deep Water Bay (Hong Kong), Toucheng (Taiwan) and Aurora and San Fernando City (both in the Philippines). The 12,871km system will have a total capacity of 144Tbps. The main trunk between the US and Hong Kong will consist of six fibre pairs; the branch to Taiwan will be wholly-owned by Google Cable Bermuda, while the two branches to the Philippines will be owned by *Facebook*’s affiliate Edge Network Services. The terrestrial segments between the Hong Kong landing station and the Hong Kong terminal station will be wholly-owned by PLD. In addition, a fourth stubbed branch is also under consideration, and if constructed, it would be controlled by PLD. The system, which is expected to cost roughly USD400 million, is currently scheduled for commercial launch in Q4 2018. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, PLD selected TE SubCom for the construction of the PLCN system in November 2015.

Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) has completed an initiative aimed at extending its global network reach to Singapore, by connecting the Asia Pacific (APAC) hub to Batelco’s global network using two submarine cable systems. The Bahrain-based telecoms operator said expansion projects are designed to support the growth of its global business while ensuring network diversity, avoiding single points of failure, providing better country resilience and efficient use of international capacities.

Basslink (BPL) has refuted claims that the December 2015 outage of the Basslink submarine cable linking mainland Australia to the island state of Tasmania was caused by BPL exceeding its design limit, which then degraded the cable. Basslink CEO Malcolm Eccles said the report – provided by two experts from international engineering consultancy DNV GL – does not provide any ‘conclusive and definitive proof’: ‘Hydro Tasmania’s experts did no actual testing on the Basslink cable or any similar HVDC [high-voltage direct current] cables. They used a theoretical model based on certain assumptions to come to a set of conclusions … These assumptions make the experts’ conclusions speculative and not based on actual facts.’ Eccles also said that neither Basslink, nor cable manufacturers Siemens and Prysmian were consulted during the creation of the Hydro Tasmania report. TeleGeography notes that the cable was damaged on 20 December 2015, and Basslink said in April 2016 that the fault was located around 98km from the Tasmanian coast, though due to the ‘lack of visible damage’ the cable needed to be cut in order to be fixed. The submarine link went back into operation in June 2017.

The Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) submarine cable network, connecting nine Asian nations – Vietnam, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand – was again damaged on 23 December but will be repaired by 7 January, Vietnam Net writes. The 10,400km system – which was certified RFS in November 2016 – suffered problems shortly after its launch, in late December, resulting in its shutdown in mid-January, along two other systems serving the region, the Asia America Gateway (AAG) and Intra Asia (IA). The system was previously cut in June 2017 and November 2017. VNPT-Vinaphone disclosed that it is ‘collaborating with international partners to find causes and make a detailed plan to address the issues’, with traffic switched to the Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3 (SMW-3) and APG systems in the meantime.

Russia’s Ministry of Communications & Mass Media (MinSvyaz) has announced plans to start the deployment of a submarine fibre-optic backbone to the Kuril Islands at the beginning of this year, with the system scheduled to be RFS in the second quarter of 2019. The construction work will be carried out by Tech Company Huawei, a Russian subsidiary of the Chinese vendor of the same name, and is estimated to cost RUB3.3 billion (USD48 million). As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, the 940km backbone network – which will boast a total capacity of 40Gbps – is aiming to connect the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in the Sakhalin region with the towns of Kurilsk and Yuzhno-Kurilsk, as well as the settlement of Krabozavodskoye. The Kuril Islands, which are technically situated in Sakhalin Oblast, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately 1,300km north-east from Hokkaido, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean.

The Brazilian Military Command of the North (CMN) has signed a five-year technical cooperation contract with the Information and Communication Technology Company of the State of Para (Prodepa), the State Secretariat for Science, Technology and Professional and Technological Education (Sectet) and the Information Technology Management Center of Amapa (Prodap) for the expansion of the fibre-optic network in the Lower Amazon region of Brazil. Under the ‘Eastern Amazon Backbone’ project, optical capacity will be assigned in the Itaituba-Santarem-Altamira and Tucurui-Belm stretches, in the fibre-optic networks of the Metrobel Network and in Maraba, besides the expansion of the optical capacity in the Guama substation.

Xtera has announced a partnership with telecom equipment repair specialist Fortress Solutions to enhance the longevity of its cable systems. Under the deal, Fortress Solutions will enable Xtera to reduce the turnaround time on its submarine and Optima legacy platforms.

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