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

29 Jun 2018

ARCOS-1 USA and A.SurNet (ASN) have submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking to modify their cable landing licence for the 8,700km ARCOS-1 submarine cable system, which connects the US with 14 countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, to include a new authorised landing point in Cojimar, Cuba. Under the plan, a branch will be deployed from an existing branching unit of the ARCOS-1 Cable that lies approximately 56km off the coast of Cuba; the new branch will be known as Segment 26 of the ARCOS-1 Cable. Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), the incumbent telecommunications provider in Cuba, will provide the cable landing station (CLS) which will be updated and housed with telecoms equipment to operate Segment 26. Columbus Networks Limited (CNL), or a wholly-owned and controlled subsidiary of CNL, will be the landing party in Cuba, and Segment 26 will be jointly owned by CNL and some of the ARCOS consortium members. ETECSA will acquire an indefeasible right of use (IRU) on some capacity on Segment 26 from CNL. Construction of Segment 26 will be completed by CNL using an international submarine cable supplier.

Australia will explore options to support the deployment of a submarine cable to Vanuatu, following discussions between representatives of the two governments. ABC News cited Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells as saying: ‘Australia is willing to explore options to support Vanuatu’s communications sector … This could include potentially undertaking a study of Vanuatu’s telecommunications sector, and needs analysis of what their requirements are. We are responsive, we understand that telecommunication is vital infrastructure in the Pacific and we would look to assist as we explore what Vanuatu’s needs are.’ In January 2014 Vanuatu completed its first submarine cable, Interchange Cable Network 1 (ICN1), linking the capital Port Vila to Suva in Fiji, and construction of the Interchange Cable Network 2 (ICN2), which will connect Luganville and Port Vila in Vanuatu to Honiara (Solomon Islands) by Q4 2019, has begun. Vanuatu’s Infrastructure Minister Jotham Napat indicated last week that his government will be asking for Australian assistance for the ICN2 project.

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has confirmed plans to connect the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI, a union territory of India situated in the Bay of Bengal) with fibre-optic cables which will provide initial capacity of 400Gbps, the Business Standard writes. BSNL’s Director (Enterprise) Shri N.K Mehta said: ‘BSNL is in process of connecting ANI to the Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) link from Chennai to Port Blair and seven other islands … This project will be completed within next two years and initial capacity of these links will be 400Gbps.’ The seven islands that will be connected are: Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Kamorta, Great Nicobar, Havelock, Long Island and Middle Andaman. Currently, the ANI archipelago relies solely on expensive satellite connections, which are capped at 1Gbps of bandwidth. Mehta highlighted that more upgrades of the satellite bandwidth are planned: ‘bandwidth augmentation work is in progress and 2Gbps will be completed by December 2018.’

Portugal’s National Communications Authority (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicacoes, ANACOM) has highlighted the need for the deployment of a new submarine link between the Portuguese mainland and the islands of Madeira and Azores, as the Columbus III and Atlantis-2 cables are expected to reach the end of their useful life in 2024-25. The regulator said it is ‘imperative that the Portuguese state define a strategic orientation in this matter, involving the central government and the two regional governments, with mobilisation of EU funds’.

Coriant said that Italian telecoms operator Fastweb is using its CloudWave Optics technology to deploy a protected 300Gbps connection covering more than 950km on its long-haul backbone network. The 300Gbps connectivity service links Fastweb’s PoPs between Rome and Milan through Turin as the primary path, and through Florence-Bologna as the protected path (covering 800km). The company anticipates future deployments of Coriant CloudWave Optics technology on Fastweb’s infrastructure to implement 200Gbps and 300Gbps services across the backbone network nationwide, enhancing its capacity by 50%. Earlier this week, Fastweb and Huawei announced the deployment of 200Gbps capabilities on Fastweb’s Flexible Optical Network over 2,300km between Milan and the South of Sicily.

ICT provider Sify Technologies, which operates a network connecting more than 1,400 cities and towns in India, has selected Ciena’s converged packet optical solutions to scale its network capacity from 100G to 400G. By leveraging Ciena’s Waveserver Ai and 6500 Packet-Optical Platforms powered by WaveLogic Ai coherent technology, Sify can program its network to adapt to changing service requirements in real-time while supporting large capacities in the metro networks.

UK’s SE Enterprise Telecoms, a subsidiary of SSE plc, has deployed Infinera’s XTM Series platform to offer a resilient, ‘dark fibre-like’ network. The network promises access to multiple services with speeds of up to 100Gbps to each BT exchange.

The National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) has revealed that an additional 2,000km of fibre-optic routes are currently ‘under funding review’ as part of the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure and e-Government Infrastructure Project (NBI/EGI). The routes in question are: Kampala-Kiboga-Hoima-Butiaba, Kampala-Mubende, Mubende-Kyenjojo, Mubende-Kakumiro, Fort Portal-Ibanda-Mbarara, Mbarara-Kakitumba, Bushenyi-Rukungiri-Kagamba-Ntungamo, Kagamba-Bushenyi, Rukungiri-Katete, Kabale-Kisoro, Masaka-Sembabule, Jinja-Kayunga-Mukono, Jinja-Kamuli-Namasagali, Iganga-Pallisa-Kumi, Soroti-Kaberamaido, Atiak-Palabek-Kitgum, Kitgum-Padibe, Kitgum-Pajule-Patonga-Kotido, and Kopoth-Kaabong. According to TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, NITA-U issued a tender for the fourth phase of the NBI/EGI in August 2017, with the procurement process commencing in February 2018. The project will see the supply and installation of 842km of aerial fibre-optic cable to extend the coverage of the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure (NBI) to Moroto, Katakwi, Karuma, Pakwach, Nebbi, Arua, Koboko, Yumbe, Moyo and Adjumani, including three border points of Mpondwe, Vurra and Oraba. Some 50km out of the total span is to be ducted and deployed underground within town areas. The first phase of the NBI saw the deployment of a 198km fibre-optic network connecting the capital Kampala with Mukono, Jinja, Bombo and Entebbe. The second phase comprised 1,400km of fibre connecting Busia, Tororo, Mbale, Malaba, Kumi, Soroti, Lira, Gulu, Elegu, Masindi, Kyenjojo, Fort Portal, Kasese, Bushenyi and Mbarara. The third phase (completed in December 2016) saw the rollout of 756km of fibre along the following routes: Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Katuna (to the border with Rwanda), Masaka-Mtukula (border with Tanzania) and Masindi-Hoima-Kyenjojo.

Lastly, Ufinet International has announced that multinational utility Enel has signed an agreement to invest EUR150 million (USD173 million) for a 21% stake in the company. This follows the announcement in May 2018 that international private equity firm Cinven (through its Sixth Fund) agreed to acquire Ufinet International for an undisclosed consideration. Post-completion, Cinven will retain a 79% majority shareholding in the Ufinet. Ufinet International operates a network with more than 49,200km of optical fibre deployed across major cities in 14 countries, including Colombia, Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica.

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