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

9 Aug 2019

Cook Islands’ Avaroa Cables Limited (ACL) has confirmed that the manufacturing of the 3,166km Manatua Cable is now well advanced, having passed the halfway mark. The fibre-optic cable, its six branches for landings across Polynesia and the 32 repeaters are being manufactured in a specialist facility in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (US). The cable manufacture is expected to be completed and undergo final testing in September 2019, with cable laying scheduled to start in Apia (Samoa) later this year, following the completion of a detailed marine survey work undertaken in June. The Manatua Cable will connect Apia (Samoa) to To’ahotu (Tahiti) via a two/three fibre pair trunk, with branching units to Niue, Aitutaki (Cook Islands, one fibre pair), Rarotonga (Cook Islands, three fibre pairs) and Vaitape (French Polynesia, one fibre pair). The system – to be deployed by SubCom – will be owned and operated by the Manatua Consortium, which consists of French Polynesian telco Office des Postes et Telecommunications (OPT), ACL, Niue-based Telecom Niue Limited (TNL) and the Samoa Submarine Cable Company (SSCC). Dr Ranulf Scarbrough, ACL CEO and Vice Chairman of the Manatua Cable Consortium, said: ‘After many years of preparations, it’s fantastic to see the cable being manufactured at last, a clear sign that very soon Rarotonga and Aitutaki [both in Cook Islands] will be benefiting from world class, international fibre connections. This is a very busy period for ACL and the whole team are focused on ensuring the engineering preparations are undertaken to the highest standards.’

Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media (a.k.a. Ministry of Communications or Minkomsvyaz) has announced a tender for the deployment of a submarine and terrestrial fibre-optic network to the Chukotka Autonomous Region. The government is planning to award RUB234 million (USD3.5 million) in 2019, RUB500 million (2020), RUB4.01 billion (2021) and RUB2.184 billion (2022) for the implementation of the project, which will see the rollout of 2,220km of cabling (2,210km of submarine and 10km of terrestrial lines) linking Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, located in the Kamchatka region, to Anadyr (Chukotka Autonomous Region). The proposed system will comprise no less than four fibre pairs with a minimum capacity of 100Gbps. The contract will include the rollout of the system by the end of 2022 and the operation and maintenance of the network for a period of five years (until 2027). All interested parties are invited to submit their bids by 30 August 2019.

The Coral Sea Cable System (CSCS) aiming to link Sydney (Australia) to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Honiara in the Solomon Islands is reportedly facing a legal challenge in the Solomon Islands, as landowners are challenging land acquisition for the project. The paramount chief of the Tandai tribe Charles Keku Tsilivi was quoted by ABC News as saying: ‘The foreshore land in Honiara is not customary land, as it has been registered under a perpetual title and we are the title holders.’ The landowners are seeking an injunction on the CSCS project, which will be heard by the court on 13 September. The four fibre-pair CSCS system will deliver a minimum of 20Tbps capacity to PNG and the Solomon Islands, respectively, bringing a total capacity of 40Tbps. The cable system, along with a 730km submarine cable system connecting Honiara to Auki (Malaita Island), Noro (New Georgia Island) and Taro Island, is set to be completed by the end of the year. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s Cable Compendium, in July 2018 Australia’s Vocus Group enlisted Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to build the CSCS cable. The AUD137 million (USD101 million) cable project was awarded to Vocus by the Australian government in June 2018. When approached for comments, spokespeople for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and project contractor Vocus said all land matters were being dealt with by the Solomon Islands’ authorities.

Cisco and Superloop have revealed two deployments of up to 400G for 4,600km on the INDIGO-West cable from Singapore to Australia, and the INDIGO-Central cable from Perth to Sydney (Australia), featuring a two-fibre pair ‘open cable’ design with new spectrum sharing technology. The Cisco NCS 1004 is optimised to maximise capacity with a minimum space and power footprint. At 2RU, the system supports up to 4.8Tbps of client and up to 4.8Tbps of trunk traffic. In addition to the subsea applications, the NCS 1004 is also well suited for terrestrial long-haul deployments as well as metro data centre interconnect applications. Ryan Crouch, Chief Technology Officer of Superloop, said: ‘The INDIGO cable system completes the next stage of our Asia-Pac network infrastructure … Working with Cisco on the INDIGO cable system was a logical extension of the partnership that helped create our Australian integrated backhaul network to the 121 points of interconnect.’

Lastly, Zayo Group Holdings has announced plans for a new long-haul fibre network between Salt Lake City, Utah (US) and Denver, Colorado (US), to complement its existing route connecting the two cities via Wyoming. Construction on the route started in Q2 2019 and is anticipated to be completed in 2021. The build will span more than 500 route miles along Interstate 70, a key transportation and commerce corridor. The route, which will be primarily underground, offers unique connectivity and diversity between Salt Lake City and Denver. Zayo’s Denver fibre footprint consists of 1,600 route miles and the market is the primary intersection of owned long-haul dark fibre connecting Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco, while the Salt Lake City fibre footprint spans 1,200 route miles.

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