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

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The Gondwana-2 system has landed in Fiji, with New Caledonia’s Minister for Telecommunications Vaimua Muliava saying that the connection between the two countries is ‘significant for regional development’, writes. The new USD81 million system will comprise two parts – international section (Gondwana-2) linking New Caledonia and Fiji, and a domestic cable called Picot-2 deployed between Lifou, Mare, Yate, Iles des Pins and Grande Terre. New Caledonia’s Office des Postes et Telecommunications de Nouvelle-Caledonie (OPT-NC) selected Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to deploy the system in April 2020.

The Cayman Islands’ Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure (PAHI) has announced that advisory firm Grant Thornton Specialist Services has been contracted to undertake a formal feasibility study into the modernisation of the country’s submarine cable infrastructure. The feasibility study, to be prepared by submarine systems experts Pioneer Consulting, will be used to guide the government into moving forward with a major submarine cable infrastructure investment project.

Philippine telco PLDT is embarking on a project to deploy additional submarine fibre-optic links to improve connectivity in Luzon – particularly in the southern Luzon provinces of Sorsogon, Quezon, Albay and Occidental Mindoro – and some parts of Visayas, such as Samar and Aklan. The project, which involves laying over 600km of submarine cable, intends to replace old domestic fibre-optic network (DFON) connections and enhance the resiliency of PLDT’s network.

The Connected Coast project has now reached the village of Hartley Bay, with over 250km of submarine fibre-optic cable laid to date. Over the following months, fibre will be deployed to the Northern communities of Klemtu, Bella Bella, Martin Valley, Ocean Falls, Bella Coola and Tlell, and the southern areas of British Columbia off the east coast of Vancouver Island, ultimately terminating in Vancouver. The CAD45.4 million (USD36.4 million) Connected Coast project, funded by the federal and provincial governments and co-managed by Strathcona Regional District and CityWest, is a 3,400km submarine cable aiming to bring high-speed internet accessibility to 139 rural and remote coastal communities, including 48 Indigenous communities – representing 44 First Nations – along the British Columbia (BC) coast from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island. First announced in 2018, the project’s agreements were finalised in early 2020, followed by ‘an extensive permitting and review process’. The main contractor for Connected Coast, Baylink Networks, was announced in September 2020. Joint venture (JV) partners CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District announced the start of the construction phase of the project in November 2021. After hitting the 50km milestone in late January, fibre has since been connected at shore landings in Oona River, Kitkatla, Bonilla Island, Tom Island and Hartley Bay.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) operator DataCo has revealed that there will be a planned outage on the Coral Sea Cable System (CS2) between Port Moresby (PNG) and Sydney (Australia) from 14 May 2022 until 21 May 2022. The cut is considered as ‘a critical precautionary measure to mitigate serious issues over the life of this asset.’ After the commissioning of the CS2 cable in February 2020, a shunt fault was detected in early 2021 posing a risk to the ongoing smooth operation of the cable system.

EXA Infrastructure has announced its initial commitment to investing EUR340 million in a series of major enhancements to its network across Europe, with many already underway. The network build and optimisation programme will primarily focus on routes in the Mediterranean region in southern and eastern Europe; through the creation of several new terrestrial and sub-sea routes, and the lighting of dark fibre to increase capacity on many existing links, EXA has invested EUR190 million in adding more than 7,000km of network, with additional capital expenditure of up to EUR150 million for new links and upgrades in the northern Balkans, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia due to be committed before September 2022. The investment projects that EXA will focus on as part of the targeted programme are: a 640km cable route between London and Amsterdam including a new cable across the North Sea; a new 1,000km cable route between Paris and Marseille; further upgrades of routes to latest Corning Ultra G.652D specification fibre between the high-traffic Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Brussels data centre clusters, totalling 1,400km; development of two cable landing station facilities and associated backhaul network comprising 800km of new network and 1,600km of upgraded routes to support new submarine cables scheduled to be built from Italy during the next three years; more than 700km of long-haul and metropolitan cable investments on the Iberian peninsula; and expansion into a further 30 carrier-neutral data centres and cable landing stations across Europe and Canada.

Elsewhere, EXA has also announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a joint venture (JV) with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), part of the Southern Gas Corridor transporting natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, to build a new fibre route connecting France with Turkey. The JV will utilise a fibre-optic cable already installed by TAP alongside the 878km gas pipeline, creating the only direct connection between south-east and western Europe to provide high-levels of redundancy over existing multi-stage alternative routes.

SEACOM is set to get a USD260 million loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for debt-refinancing and expansion into new service lines. The World Bank’s private sector lending arm said the expansion is expected to boost SMEs and large corporates in South Africa, East Africa and West Africa, with SEACOM ‘leveraging its fibre network spanning 21,000km (including 17,000km of submarine cables) as well as its strategic alliances on the 2Africa and Equiano cables.’

Infinera has announced the successful delivery of 800G optical transmission with Infinera’s ICE6 technology across GlobalConnect Carrier’s live international long-haul network using GlobalConnect’s existing third-party line system. This achievement lays the foundation for modernising GlobalConnect’s northern Europe-wide network, which offers a full suite of carrier services with more than 100,000km of fibre and 3,300 access nodes. Leveraging Infinera’s ICE6 optical engine technology on the GX Series Compact Modular Platform, GlobalConnect achieved error-free transmission at 800G over 770km on its international backbone between Stockholm and Malmo.

Nokia has revealed the successful completion of a network trial with TIM using the Nokia PSE-Vs fifth generation super coherent optics. TIM and Nokia demonstrated error-free performance at 600Gbps over a 1,008km link from Torino to Rome, consisting of 18 fibre spans and through five ROADMs nodes, and 400Gbps over a 2,140km link from Torino to Catania (Sicily), consisting of 37 fibre spans and twelve ROADMs nodes. This trial sets new milestones in spectral efficiency over a live, real-world network, and enables TIM to further increase its optical network capacity and support 400GE services across its long-haul network.

Equinix has extended Platform Equinix deeper into Latin America following the completion of the acquisition of four data centres from Empresa Nacional De Telecomunicaciones (Entel) for a combined total of USD736 million.

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