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

16 Mar 2018

The Southeast Asia-Japan 2 (SJC2) consortium – including Singtel, China Mobile International, Chunghwa Telecom, Chuan Wei, Facebook, KDDI, SK Broadband and VNPT – has signed an agreement with NEC Corporation to build a submarine cable connecting Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, Korea and Japan. The 10,500km network will link eleven cable landing stations in the region and is expected to be ready for service (RFS) by the fourth quarter of 2020. The SJC2 cable will feature up to eight pairs of high capacity optical fibre with a total capacity of 144Tbps. Ms Linette Lee, Chairperson of the SJC2 consortium, said: ‘The construction of SJC2 cable marks a key milestone in intra-Asian digital collaboration. The newer and higher capacity cable complements the earlier SJC which was completed in 2013. It is a critical infrastructure to provide seamless connectivity, lower latency and network diversity to enterprises and customers in this economically dynamic part of the world.’

Hong Kong-based EGS has begun survey work for the Fibra Optica Austral (FOA) submarine cable system, using its RV Geo Explorer. The 3,000km cable will connect the Chilean cities of Puerto Montt and Puerto Williams with landings at Caleta Tortel and Punta Arenas. EGS says the FOA cable will also enable Comunicacion y Telefonia Rural (CTR) to upgrade the rural terrestrial infrastructure. The FOA cable is part of the Chilean Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications’ (Miniseterio de Transportes y Telecomunicaciones’, MTT’s) project aiming to deploy nearly 4,000km of fibre-optic infrastructure in the southern Patagonia region. In October 2017 the ministry revealed that CTR, in association with Huawei Marine, won the tender for the submarine section and one of three land-based sections of the project. Contracts for the deployment of the remaining two land-based sections in Los Lagos and Aysen are currently subject to an auction.

The Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Ltd (BSCCL) has commenced the preparations for the deployment of a third undersea cable link to meet the country’s growing demand for data. Telecoms minister Mustafa Jabbar told The Daily Star: ‘It will hardly take few years to consume all the bandwidth the country has right now … To meet that demand we need to take prior preparation, as establishing the link with submarine cable is time-consuming.’ BSCCL’s managing director Mashiur Rahman, meanwhile, said that his company is in discussions with a new unnamed consortium aiming to deploy a submarine system in Southeast Asia: ‘We will definitely try to join the consortium.’ At present, Bangladesh’s total bandwidth usage is about 565Gbps, up from about 380Gbps a year ago. BSCCL is supplying 270Gbps from the SeaMeWe-4 cable landing in Cox’s Bazar and another 120Gbps from the SeaMeWe-5 system landing in Kuakata, according to officials of the BSCCL. Another 175Gbps comes from India through the International Terrestrial Cable (ITC) links.

The Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG) submarine cable connecting nine Asian nations – Vietnam, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand – is expected to be back in service on 10 April, after experiencing a fault on 27 February. The location of the disruption was reported to be 125km from Hong Kong, affecting traffic from Vietnam to Hong Kong; the portion of the APG that stretches from Vietnam to Singapore, however, is still operating normally, according to Viettel. 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 2017. The cable was again damaged in June, November and December 2017. The APG cable was moved to a new location on 7 January 2018, due to the Singapore government project to expand Changi Airport.

Submarine connectivity providers Angola Cables and IOX Cable have signed a capacity sharing agreement, which will enable them to develop and improve their respective network services across America, Africa, Europe and India. Via the agreement, IOX Cable will leverage the capabilities of the in-deployment South Atlantic Cable System (SACS), which is scheduled to be RFS in Q3 2018. For its part, Angola Cables will gain access to the IOX Cable System, linking India and South Africa via Mauritius. The IOX cable is scheduled to enter services in Q4 2019. Arunachalam Kandasamy, President and CEO of IOX Cable, described the collaboration as an investment in the future of connectivity and infrastructure.

Huawei has released its latest 400G optical network solution for commercial use. It supports adjustable bandwidths at a tunable single-wavelength rate ranging from 100Gbps to 400Gbps. Huawei’s solution uses dual-channel 2×200G and optimisation algorithms to compress the channel spacing, increases the spectral efficiency by 30% (approaching a single-wavelength rate of 400Gbps), and smoothly extends the 400G transmission distance to thousands of miles.

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