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

7 Sep 2018

The South Atlantic Inter Link (SAIL) consortium – comprising China Unicom (and its wholly-owned subsidiary China Unicom do Brasil Telecomunicacoes) and Cameroonian state-owned telecoms provider CamTel – has completed the marine installation of its transatlantic fibre-optic submarine cable connecting Kribi (Cameroon) and Fortaleza (Brazil). Adopting Huawei Marine’s advanced 100G technology, the 5,900km system features four fibre pairs with a design capacity of 32Tbps. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in December 2016 French cable manufacturer Nexans disclosed that it will supply the required submarine repeatered optical cables (ROC) for the SAIL system. The cables were manufactured and tested at Nexans’ Rognan factory in Norway.

Wholesale telecommunications company GlobeNet and Facebook have begun the construction work on their 2,500km submarine cable system linking Rio De Janeiro in Brazil with Buenos Aires (Argentina). The Malbec system will be co-owned by GlobeNet and Facebook, with GlobeNet in charge of its operation. The new cable will significantly boost GlobeNet’s presence in the region, while complimenting its existing 23,500km GlobeNet fibre-optic cable system linking Brazil with Venezuela, Colombia, Bermuda and the US. The submarine system will connect GlobeNet’s cable landing station in Rio De Janeiro with the Argentine capital, via a landing point in Las Toninas, to the southeast of Buenos Aires.

Seychelles Cable Systems Company (SCS) has signed contractual documents with PEACE Cable International Network, Huawei International and Huawei Marine Networks for the deployment of the Pakistan East Africa Cable Express (PEACE) cable. Work on the project is expected to start in 2019, with a scheduled completion in 2020. Benjamin Choppy, Principal Secretary of the Department of Information Communication Technology (DICT), told the Seychelles News Agency (SNA): ‘With a second submarine cable link to the country, we achieve our long-desired goal of security in our international telecommunications links. Connectivity to the rest of the world is indispensable for a small island developing state like Seychelles.’ TeleGeography notes that the 115-island archipelago currently benefits from a sole fibre-optic cable, the Seychelles East Africa System (SEAS), connecting the main island Mahe to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania.

Australian operator Vocus is working with the government of the Northern Territory (NT) – a federal Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of the country – to build a new cable link between Darwin and the Tiwi Islands. Under a capital grant arrangement with the NT government, Vocus will build, own and operate the subsea system, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year. The telco will leverage its existing infrastructure, especially the 2,100km North West Cable System, to deliver the branching unit. It will also use the pre-existing Vocus cable landing station facility at Mindil Beach in Darwin and another landing station at Wurrumiyanga, on Bathurst Island. Vocus CEO Kevin Russell said: ‘The new fibre-optic link provides a historic opportunity to replace the existing sub-optimal microwave link to the mainland, removing capacity constraints and improving telecoms services to the Tiwi Islands. Poor weather causes significant interruptions to microwave telecoms links and the tropical conditions in the Tiwi Islands frequently mean that essential services that rely on connectivity cannot be delivered.’

Elsewhere, Vocus has revealed that its Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) has been put into early service, following a major fault on the SeaMeWe-3 cable between Perth (Australia) and Singapore. The operator said that the issue is being investigated by a local carrier, noting that previous faults of that nature have taken more than four weeks to restore. This is the fourth time the subsea cable is down since August 2017; the system was previously offline between late August and mid-October 2017, only to be cut again just six weeks later in December 2017. Most recently, two separate faults of the system were uncovered in May 2018. To minimise customer impact due to the cable outage, Vocus has implemented an emergency cutover of services that were running through SeaMeWe-3 onto the Vocus ASC, which is in its final testing phase. Vocus said it is working to fully operationalise ASC prior to the official ready for service (RFS) date of 14 September. The 4,600km ASC cable links Perth (Australia) to Singapore via Jakarta in Indonesia, with an onward spur to the Christmas Islands; the cable boasts four fibre pairs with a design capacity of 40Tbps.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has obtained a credit of USD328 million from the China Exim Bank for the deployment of the NIPTI 2 national backbone network, Agence Ecofin writes. The funding will be provided to state-owned company Galaxy Backbone, which inked a collaboration agreement for the rollout with Huawei Technologies. The fibre-optic deployment, scheduled to be completed in 2019, will complement the NIPTI 1 programme – which covers most of the southern states – by extending the network nationwide. The Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu said in May: ‘When concluded, it will not only cover federal ministries, department agencies and all government’s parastatals, but there will be enough for commercialisation to the private sector, particularly GSM companies and other ICT industries. So, we hope that Nigeria will be making a lot of money from this particular facility when completed.’

South Africa-based private equity firm Harith General Partners has acquired a majority stake in Malawian fibre-optic cable operator Open Connect Limited (OCL), Bloomberg reports. OCL was created in March 2016 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) to manage, develop and maintain the country’s 2,250km national fibre backbone network. Harith’s other fibre investments in Africa include a roughly 30% stake in Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) and a data centre company in Nigeria.

Lastly, US-based ExteNet Systems has completed the acquisition of Hudson Fiber Network (HFN) for an undisclosed sum. ExteNet Systems’ CEO Ross Manire said: ‘Besides enhancing our fibre footprint in key markets, Hudson Fiber provides us a blueprint to address the advanced communication needs of enterprises.’ Q Advisors, a TMT global investment bank, acted as the financial advisor to Hudson Fiber, with Lowenstein Sandler LLP representing them as their legal counsel. Reed Smith LLP represented ExteNet in the transaction.

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