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

30 Aug 2019

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) is attempting to block completion of the 12,971km Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), the Wall Street Journal reports, citing ‘people involved in the discussions’. The objections have been tabled by the DoJ alongside the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defence (collectively referred to as ‘Team Telecom’), which have raised ‘national security and law enforcement concerns’ over the project. The cable will link El Segundo in California with a number of destinations in Asia, namely: Aurora and San Fernando City (both Philippines), Deep Water Bay (Hong Kong) and Toucheng (Taiwan). While the project’s most eye-catching backers are US internet giants Google and Facebook, the involvement of Chinese partner Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) – a subsidiary of Dr Peng Telecom & Media Group – has been cited as a cause for concern, based on its connections to both Huawei and the Chinese government. The cable is expected to be ready for service (RFS) in the third quarter of 2019.

Nigeria-based infrastructure firm MainOne has confirmed the landing of its subsea cable in Senegal, marking the first of two planned extensions. The announcement follows the news of a partnership between MainOne and Orange Group in September 2018 for the construction and installation of two new branches, one connecting Dakar in Senegal and the other linking to Abidjan in the Cote d’Ivoire. MainOne expects the Ivorian link to go live in October this year. The development was confirmed via a post on Twitter on MainOne’s official account, which noted: ‘With this new landing, the MainOne submarine cable will be directly connected into four of West Africa’s largest countries … Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and now Senegal, and will empower the countries’ digital ecosystems, drive connectivity and improve internet enabled access.’

The 4,700km Coral Sea Cable, which will link Australia to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, landed in Sydney on 28 August, a statement by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne has confirmed. With the Australian landing completed, the cable laying ship Ile de Brehat will soon return to Solomon Islands to lay a separate 730km submarine cable linking Honiara to the provincial centres of Auki, Noro and Taro. Australia has provided the majority of the funding, with the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands governments jointly contributing one-third of project costs. The system is on track for completion by December 2019.

Huawei is among the companies vying to deploy the Asia-South America Digital Gateway submarine cable project, which was unveiled by Chile’s Transport and Telecommunications Ministry (MTT) and Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) in July this year. David Dou Yong, Huawei’s chief executive in Chile, told Reuters: ‘Huawei will be very actively participating in this business opportunity … This bidding process has several steps … We are ready and we will follow the process until the bid to select a vendor to implement it starts and for sure we will be part of the tender process.’

Finally, Diode Ventures, a global turnkey asset development company, and Tenebris Fiber, a dark fibre provider in Virginia, have agreed to co-develop an approximate 630-mile network from Virginia Beach to Ashburn, Virginia, to offer dark fibre services in the state. The network will connect the VA Beach Landing Station to public and private data centres and network operators situated along what it describes as ‘the world’s most highly trafficked internet route’. Diode’s parent company, Black & Veatch, is proposed to be the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) provider on the project.

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