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

21 Sep 2018

The South Atlantic Cable System (SACS), which connects Africa and South America, entered commercial operations on 18 September. Onward connectivity is provided via interconnection with the Monet Cable linking Miami (US) to Sao Paolo in Brazil. Angola Cables hired equipment vendor NEC to deploy the system, with Orange Marine in charge of the deep-water laying phase of the cable rollout. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, deployment work on the 6,165km cable commenced in Luanda (Angola) in December 2017 and landed at the port of Pecem in the city of Fortaleza (Brazil) in February this year. The installation of the system was completed in mid-2018, with CEO Antonio Nunes saying in July that testing would be completed by August due to delays in the construction of the data centre in Fortaleza.

Deployment work on the first section of the INDIGO-West submarine cable is now complete, with 2,400km of cabling rolled out from the Christmas Islands to Floreat Beach in Perth (Australia). The 9,200km INDIGO cable system will connect Sydney and Perth (INDIGO-Central) with Singapore and Jakarta (INDIGO-West). The regional consortium building the system comprises Google, SubPartners, Telstra, Australian research network AARNet and telcos Indosat Ooredoo and Singtel. Construction of the second section of the INDIGO-West cable, which will connect Singapore and Indonesia, will start this month and is scheduled for completion in late December. The Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) cable laying ship Ile de Brehat is now preparing to lay the INDIGO-Central cable, which will traverse 4,600km between Perth and Sydney; the Sydney landing is expected to be completed in mid-October, with the final splice of the INDIGO-Central system set for completion in early December. The INDIGO cables are expected to be RFS in Q1 2019.

Data centre operator New Jersey Fibre Exchange (NJFX) has revealed that the HAVFRUE submarine cable system will land at its Tier 3 carrier-neutral colocation campus at the Wall (New Jersey). The new submarine cable – to be owned and operated by a consortium comprising Aqua Communications (AquaComms), Bulk Infrastructure, Facebook and others – will traverse the North Atlantic to connect mainland Northern Europe to the US. The system is comprised of a trunk cable connecting New Jersey (US) to the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark with a branch landing in County Mayo (Ireland). Optional branch extensions to Northern and Southern Norway are also included in the design. The 8,179km cable system will be optimised for coherent transmission and will offer a cross-sectional cable capacity of 108Tbps, scalable to higher capacities utilising future generation Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE) technology. AquaComms will serve as the system operator and landing party in the US, Ireland and Denmark, while Bulk Infrastructure of Norway will be the owner and landing party for the Norwegian branch options. The cable is scheduled to be ready for service (RFS) in Q4 2019. Other systems landing at the campus facility include Tata TGN-Atlantic and Seabras-1, with WALL-LI set to be housed at the facility when complete (June 2019).

Infrastructure manager Palisade Investment Partners and Hawaiki Submarine Cable Limited Partnership have signed binding agreements to become equity partners, with Palisade acquiring a significant ownership interest in the Hawaiki submarine cable. The Hawaiki system – which entered into service on 20 July – is a 14,000km fibre-optic cable linking Australia, New Zealand and the US with American Samoa and Hawaii. Its network design includes several branching units to expand to additional Pacific Island countries. The cable has a design capacity of 43.8Tbps, with Hawaiki director Malcolm Dick saying that there is room to expand capacity in the future, as faster technology is built onto the endpoints of the network.

Brazilian telecoms infrastructure provider Telebras has announced an agreement to exchange its equity interest in the companies EllaLink and Cabos Brasil Europa for the right to use the EllaLink (previously known as EulaLink), a direct submarine fibre-optic cable between Europe and Latin America. Payment and closing of the deal is expected to take place in the coming months. As currently planned, EllaLink will bring 72Tbps of connectivity between the two continents. The 10,119km-long EllaLink will land at Sines in Portugal and at Praia Grande near Sao Paolo (Brazil), with branches to Fortaleza (Brazil), the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira and the island nation of Cape Verde. The system will be deployed by Nokia’s ASN unit and is scheduled to be RFS in 2020. Note that the only existing direct fibre-optic cable between Europe and Latin America, the ATLANTIS-2 (commissioned in late 1999), remains in service, although is based on ageing technology.

Swedish infrastructure specialist Flexenclosure has received an order from Vanuatu-based telecoms group Interchange for two eCentre cable landing stations, to be deployed in (Luganville) Vanuatu and Honiara (Solomon Islands) early next year. Construction of the two cable landing stations will commence at Flexenclosure’s factory in Sweden in October; the two facilities are expected to be fully operational by May 2019. They will house the new Interchange Cable Network 2 (ICN2), aiming to connect Luganville and Port Vila in Vanuatu to Honiara by Q4 2019. TeleGeography notes that Interchange completed the USD30 million Interchange Cable Network 1 (ICN1) system in January 2014, linking Port Vila, Vanuatu to Suva, Fiji. In Fiji, the 1,230km cable links directly into the Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) which connects Sydney, Australia to Hawaii.

Telecom Egypt’s 50% owned subsidiary the Egyptian International Submarine Cables Company (EISCC) has completed the acquisition of the Middle East and North Africa Submarine Cable (MENA Cable) from Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding (OTMT) for a total enterprise value of USD90 million. USD40 million of the total represents the equity value of the infrastructure, while the remainder is the outstanding amount of its debt. The 8,100km MENA Cable lands in Italy, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt and India.

A fault on the SeaMeWe-3 cable between Perth (Australia) and Singapore caused by construction work on an overbridge has now been fixed, State IT Secretary M Sivasankar told PTI News. This was the fourth time the subsea cable has been 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. Two separate faults of the system were uncovered in May 2018, with the most recent issue reported in early September.

An unnamed international carrier has selected Zayo Group Holdings for a pan-European dark fibre backbone. The dark fibre solution includes nearly 3,500 route-mile network with dozens of In-Line Amplification (ILA) stations, connecting four major European markets. It leverages Zayo’s in-place network in the UK and Western Europe. The carrier connects to Zayo’s network via subsea cables in Marseille, a strategic gateway and intercontinental aggregation point, while Zayo provides diverse fibre routes from Marseille that connect to Paris, Frankfurt, London and other European markets.

Lastly, ZenFi Networks and Cross River Fiber have announced the completion of their merger, which was first announced in April 2018. The two companies provide communications infrastructure and services in metropolitan New York and New Jersey. ZenFi operates in Manhattan, while Cross River operates in New Jersey, extending into other nearby areas of New York. The combined company, to operate under the ZenFi Networks banner, has a combined 700 route miles of fibre-optic network, 119 on-net buildings, 47 colocation facilities and 6,000 outdoor wireless locations. Ray LaChance, CEO of ZenFi Networks said: ‘This transaction enhances our network reach, deepens our product portfolio, and delivers a premier regional communications network infrastructure that is the foundation for 5G network deployments and tomorrow’s evolving network technology needs.’

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