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

30 Nov 2018

The government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) will uphold its agreement with China’s Huawei Technologies for the deployment of a domestic submarine cable project aiming to connect 15 coastal provincial capitals, despite receiving a counter-offer from Australia, US and Japan, Reuters writes. PNG’s Minister for Public Enterprise and State Investment William Duma said: ‘We have an existing agreement … It’s about honour and integrity, once you enter into a deal and an arrangement you go with it,’ adding that Huawei has already completed 60% of the work on the project. The 5,457km Kumul Domestic Cable is currently scheduled to be funded by the Export-Import Bank of China and rolled out by Huawei in preparation for the Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS). The network will run between Port Moresby, Alotau, Popondetta, Lae and Madang and is expected to be completed by February 2019. PNG DataCo Limited, the state-owned enterprise responsible for the provision of wholesale ICT transmission services under the newly-restructured business of Kumul Telikom Holdings Limited (KTHL), will own, manage and operate the cable system after its commissioning.

Staying in the Pacific, the RV Northern Endeavour vessel has returned to Honiara (Solomon Islands), thus marking the completion of the marine route survey for the Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS) and the Solomon Islands Domestic Network, with Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) now set to manufacture the cables in France. The preliminary findings indicate that the CSCS system, which will link Australia to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, will be approximately 3,759km long, while the Solomon Islands Domestic Network will traverse approximately 722km along the Solomon Islands, linking the Malaita, Western and Choiseul Provinces. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in July 2018 Australia’s Vocus Group enlisted ASN to build the 4,000km CSCS cable. The AUD137 million (USD101 million) cable project – awarded to Vocus by the Australian government in June – is expected to be completed by late-2019.

HENGTONG Marine has manufactured and delivered 3,000km of submarine cables for Chile’s USD90 million Fibra Optica Austral (FOA) project. The FOA system will connect the Chilean cities of Puerto Montt and Puerto Williams, with landings at Caleta Tortel and Punta Arenas. 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 Comunicacion y Telefonia Rural (CTR), in association with Huawei Marine, won the tender for the submarine section and one of three land-based sections of the project. The rollout of the system is scheduled to commence in January.

Spain’s Telefonica has offered to connect Cuba to its international cable system, EFE writes. The operator reportedly offered to connect the country via a branch to a submarine cable network currently being deployed in the Caribbean. TeleGeography notes that Cuba is currently served by the 1,860km Alba-1 cable connecting Cuba with Venezuela and Jamaica, which was built by Alcatel-Lucent and deployed in August 2012. The 1,528km GTMO-1 between Dania Beach (South Florida) and the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay (built by the US Department of Defence [DoD]) entered services in 2016, while another DoD-backed system, the 1,400km Guantanamo-Puerto Rico (GTMO-PR), will be fully commissioned as scheduled in December 2018 and will enter services in early 2019.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to retain the existing charges for accessing submarine cable bandwidth levied by owners of cable landing stations (CLS), the Financial Express writes. The TRAI capped charges for accessing low capacity STM-1 at INR36,000 (USD515) per annum and INR625,000 for high capacity STM-64 per unit capacity at the cable landing station, under the International Telecommunication Cable Landing Stations Access Facilitation Charges and Co-location Charges (Amendment) Regulations of 2018. In 2012 the TRAI slashed the charges levied by CLS’ owners for granting access to the facility to domestic operators to one-tenth of the existing tariff, a move which was subsequently challenged by Tata Communications and Bharti Airtel. In July 2018 the Madras High Court cancelled the tariff fixed by the TRAI in 2012 due ‘to a lack of transparency’, and on 8 October the Supreme Court directed the regulator to revise the calculation method within six weeks.

Lastly, a consortium comprising public investment group Bpifrance Participations (formerly Fonds Strategique d’Investissement), the Aleph Capital fund and the French equipment manufacturer Ekinops is poised to acquire Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN). La Tribune writes that Ekinops will be a minority shareholder in the unit, though it will be in charge of its operation. The ASN unit was acquired by the Finnish equipment vendor Nokia in 2015 as part of its EUR15.6 billion (USD17.8 billion) acquisition of French rival Alcatel-Lucent. The division has been on Nokia’s disposal list since 2017.

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