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elcome to SubTel Forum’s Issue 95, our Regional Systems edition. If it’s July, it can only be the most awesome time of the year – that being, of course, Le Tour de France! Any armchair aficionado has noticed this year’s marathon race has been anything but normal. Big, experienced names known for several previous Tour efforts have been swept away in mind numbing crashes in the early days. Names expected on the Paris podium are already out of contention, and new, younger

cyclists are openly competing with the remaining race veterans for a spot on the Champs-Élysées. It is, as every year, another amazing, tumultuous race. My daughter’s boyfriend has recently pivoted from being a former NCAA Division I runner to that of cycling. He is spending the summer racing, sometimes multiple times a week, in our 3-state area to earn enough points to move up to the next level. He has painstakingly built-up his bike; he has trained relentlessly; he has “kissed” the pave-

ment on more than one occasion. In one week, he was hit by a car on a training ride and felled in a race by another cycler; he raced anyway the next day, bruised and sore with scavenged bike parts, and even placed. My secret desire is to one day to sponsor a Tour team. I don’t mean like the big names, Cannondale, Dimension, etc.; I mean just enough to say we’re involved. Maybe we could buy their water bottles or something. Maybe I could sponsor my daughter’s boyfriend all the way to Paris. Maybe… So, if you are in Marseilles for the final time trials this Saturday, and you see some fanatic Yank screaming alongside, “Allez, allez, allez.” It might just be me! See you in the Peloton, and good reading,

IN THIS ISSUE... Exordium............................................................. 3 By Wayne Nielsen

Readjusting Expectations, Embracing New Opportunities........................................10 By Kieran Clark Long Island.......................................................16 By Hunter Newby Moving Oceans Of Data................................22 By Nigel Bayliff Autonomous Networks… Are You Ready?........................................................28 By Brian Lavallée From The Conference Director.................33 By Christopher Noyes

The Opportunities And Technological Challenges Of Regional System Design.40 By Tony Frisch

The History And Future Of Subsea Connectivity In The Caribbean.................44 By Stephen Scott Back Reflection:..............................................49 By José Chesnoy Advertiser’s Corner.......................................56 By Krisitan Nielsen Coda.....................................................................59 By Kevin G. Summers

ADVERTISER INDEX STF Analytics..................................................... 8

OFS.......................................................................12 SubOptic 2019.................................................15 Huawei Marine................................................20


WFN Strategies...............................................26 SubOptic Association....................................34 euNetworks......................................................36 Undersea Fiber Communication Systems...............................................................54 Submarine Cable Almanac.........................57


Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc.




SubTel Forum welcomes appropriate news submissions from around the industry. If an item is newsworthy, we wil strongly consider it for posting on our daily news feed. Please keep in mind the following guidelines if you wish to submit a ress release to our new team: »» AP Style preferred. »» Cleary written, addressing pertinent parties and events in the first two paragraphs. »» Identify the organization or individual sending the release and include the name and telephone number for the primary point of contact »» Date the release and specify whether the material is for immediate use or for release at a later date. »» Type “END” at the bottom of the last page.

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AAE-1 Enters Service Angola Cables Breaks Ground On Multi-Million Dollar South America Data Centre

Angola Cables To Build Data Center In Brazil APG Submarine Cable Damaged

Atisa Submarine Cable Ready For Service Chile Extends Deadlines For Southern Fibre Tender

China Telecom Expands HK Data Centre Footprint CNMC To Deregulate Spain-Canary Island Cable

Congo-Brazzaville Facing Major Submarine Cable Outage Deep Blue Cable, TE SubCom To Build New Cable From Caribbean To Americas

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Equinix To Invest $42m To Expand Sydney Datacentre Hawaiian Telcom Enters Agreement To Merge With Cincinnati Bell

Huawei, China Unicom Sign Cable Deal With Cameroon ICPC Issues New Recommendations On Cable Operations and Deep Seabed Mining

ICPC: The Latest Insights into Submarine Cables and Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Indonesia Demolishes Sacofa’s Landing Station

IOX Cable, Alcatel Submarine Networks To Link Mauritius And Rodrigues Islands To South Africa, India Jio Launches Service On AAE-1 MainOne Completes Repairs

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MainOne’s Submarine Cable Out For 14 Days

Massive Internet Disruption Costing Somalia $10M A Day

NEC Receives Award For Accomplishments In Submarine Telecoms NZ Boosts Infrastructure Funding For Cook Islands

Orange To Work On New Comoros-Mayotte Cable PTCL: Cable Fault On SEA-ME-WE 4

Quarterly FCC International Reports Due June 30, 2017

Reliance To Sell Submarine Cable Assets To CITIC Telecom

Remote Pacific Regions To Get Broadband SAT3 Downtime Had Minimal Impact – Openserve Seaborn Networks Connects Brazil And The U.S.

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Service Restored In Congo-Brazzaville After 15 Days Solomon Islands And Huawei Signs Project

Solomon Islands Signs MoU With Huawei Marine For New Cable STF Events Holds SubOptic 2019 Kick-Off In The Big Easy

Sunshine Coast’s Submarine Cable Protection Zone Gets Support From Australian Councils Superloop Hong Kong TKO Express Cable Goes Live TE SubCom Awarded South Pacific Marine Maintenance Agreement Telstra To Cut 1,400 Jobs

Telxius Deploys Infinera DTN-X XTC Series On SAM-1

This Week In Submarine Telecoms July 3-7

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This Week In Submarine Telecoms June 12-16 This Week In Submarine Telecoms June 19-23 This Week In Submarine Telecoms June 26-30

This Week In Submarine Telecoms June 5-9 This Week In Submarine Telecoms May 29-June 2 This Week In Submarine Telecoms, July 10-14

ViaWest To Offer Access To New Cross Pacific Cable Via Oregon Data Center

VNPT To Launch AAE-1 Service In July Vocus To Turn Down $3bn Bid, Push Ahead On Singapore Cable Xtera Chairman To Serve as Programme Chair For SubOptic 2019

STF Analytics

For more information:


Presenting the industry’s most extensive collection of 375+ current and planned submarine cable systems impacting financiers, carriers, cable owners, system suppliers, component manufacturers and marine contractors, and detailing more than 50 menubased data fields and maps in a customer-customizable report.


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hile 2016 was not the banner year the industry had anticipated, the next 3 years continue to indicate strong potential for growth. Bandwidth demand around the world shows no sign of slowing down and will continue to provide business cases for new submarine cables. The immense effort required to keep up with demand — largely driven by data centers and Over-TheTop (OTT) providers — will test the capabilities of the entire industry. Additionally, the submarine fiber industry continues to observe a changing dynamic in system ownership as data center and OTT providers move from capacity purchasers to system owners. These cash-rich companies are looking to provide infrastructure for their own needs, and can guarantee a system they back will enter service. Overall, 17% of systems planned through 2019 reflect this changing dynamic.

Systems Announced RFS by Year 2016-2019 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0



2018 2016

This explosion of growth is happening all around the world and is not specific to any one region. Several regions are expected to at least double existing capacity. So, while 2016 was a less busy year than expected, there is tremendous growth opportunity. Welcome to SubTel Forum’s annual Regional Systems issue. This



month, we’ll take a brief look at system progress around the world, and talk a little bit about some of the challenges the submarine telecoms industry faces. The data used in this article is obtained from the public domain and is tracked by the ever evolving STF Analytics database, where products like the Almanac,

Annonced KMS Added by Year 2016-2019 200,000 150,000 100,000 50,000 0


2017 2016

Cable Map, Online Cable Map and Industry Report find their roots. At the time of our last Regional Systems edition, 21 systems were set to be ready for service in 2016, 16 systems in 2017, and 9 systems in 2018. One year later, those numbers have changed to 5 systems in 2016, 30 systems in 2017, 18 systems in 2018 and 9 systems in 2019. While 2016 saw a dramatic reduction of planned systems, several of those systems simply slipped to 2017 and later rather than out-




right dying. However, a new surge of planned systems through 2019 have been observed. Overall — and despite the large shortfall in 2016 — there has been a 35% increase in systems under development since our last edition. Of the systems scheduled to be ready for service in 2017, only 4 have been put in to service. 3 systems have completed their marine surveys, another 6 have started system manufacture, and 3 other systems projected to be ready for

service this year have begun installation. The remaining systems remain in the pre-engineering phase. Looking ahead to 2018, only 5 systems have completed their marine survey, 2 systems have started the manufacturing process, and the remaining 12 systems are still in the pre-engineering phase. Alongside the large increase in the number of systems under development, there is a noticeable increase in the amount of kilometers of cable added to the global infrastructure compared to last year’s data. While 2016 saw a nearly 100,000 kilometers decrease compared to estimates from a year ago, 2017 and beyond have observed a large increase in planned cable. The estimates for 2017 have nearly doubled, with 2018 seeing a slight increase in planned cable. Looking even further ahead, systems planned for 2019 add nearly 80,000 kilometers to projected cable additions. Overall, there has been an 18% increase in planned kilometers over a 4-year period compared to a year ago.

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Most of this rapid growth is largely driven by demand in and around the Pacific Ocean. With emerging markets in the South Pacific continuing to hunger for more bandwidth, expect activity in the region to remain high. When paired with a renewed desire for Transpacific routes, these factors have resulted in over half of all new systems to be planned for the Transpacific and AustralAsia regions through 2019. The bulk of the remaining planned activity is centered on the Atlantic, stemming from a desire to connect with emerging markets in South America and Western Africa. Overall, regional trends have changed little from last year. Global capacity is projected to increase by 74% percent through 2019. Except for the EMEA and Indian Ocean Pan-East Asian regions, every region in the world is expected to at least double its existing capacity. Such a massive bandwidth increase over a relatively short period of time is made possible by the cutting-edge technology available to system owners today. With 100G wavelength technology being the de

Current Capacity vs Planned Capacity by Region 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0




Indian Ocean



facto standard, 150G and 200G beginning to enter service and 400G potentially available for commercial use in the near future, these capacity totals could skyrocket even higher. While all this data seems very promising, reality settles in when looking at the percentage of systems that are contract-in-force, or CIF. There are 62 systems planned globally through 2019 and 43% have achieved this milestone. This is the first real determination of whether a system will ever see the light of



day, and so expectations must be adjusted when CIF rates are observed. With this year being more than half over, only 46% of planned systems for 2017 are CIF. This is a large decrease over the same time last year, where 76% of systems planned for 2016 had reached the CIF milestone. Overall, CIF rates are weaker than they were a year ago, potentially indicating that the recent surge in planned system activity is straining the market.

TeraWave™ | TrueWaveŽ | AllWaveŽ ZWP Ocean Fibers Coherent Transport High Signal Power Outstanding Bend Performance Simplified Network Design Long-term Reliability

Systems Announced RFS by Region 2017-2019 Transpacific 15%

Americas 20%

Transatlantic 9% Indian Ocean 7%

EMEA 13%

What remains to be seen in the coming months is the effect that the economic uncertainty throughout the world will have on the submarine fiber industry. The relatively low growth of the EMEA region despite its geographical size is very likely a result of some of these economic woes — especially those in the Eurozone — and issues surrounding the Middle East. Asian economies appear to be relatively

stable for now, so impact on planned submarine fiber systems should be minimal for the AustralAsia and Transpacific regions. The Americas and Transatlantic regions continue to see growth, despite uncertainty in South America and Europe, and are heavily driven by North American OTT providers. In fact, such OTT providers are becoming increasingly responsible for planned system activity around the world — signaling a dynamic shift in the submarine fiber industry as these companies move from capacity purchasers to system owners. Overall, despite some of the lingering economic and political uncertainty the world has been experiencing in recently, the submarine fiber industry has numerous opportunities for growth. Data centers

CIF Rate 2017-2019

Yes 43% No 57%

AustralAsia 36%

and OTT providers have appeared to be largely immune from the global economic climate, and have spurred on this explosive demand for bandwidth. New technologies are seeing commercial use and new nations continue to connect to the global telecommunications network, providing a positive outlook for the submarine fiber industry’s future. Kieran Clark is an Analyst for Submarine Telecoms Forum. He joined the company in 2013 as a Broadcast Technician to provide support for live event video streaming. In 2014, Kieran was promoted to Analyst and is currently responsible for the research and maintenance that supports the SubTel Forum International Submarine Cable Database; his analysis is featured in almost the entire array of SubTel Forum publications. He has 4+ years of live production experience and has worked alongside some of the premier organizations in video web streaming.






lthough Manhattan receives the lion’s share of attention as the financial and media capital of the world, just a few miles east you will discover Long Island, a thriving community growing to be every bit as important to global commerce and communications as the Big Apple. Because the subsea telecommunications market continues to grow due to the demand for data, commerce and communications, there is a rationale as to why Long Island should be considered by network operators and enterprises seeking affordable, global subsea connectivity.


According to SubTel Forum’s 2016 Submarine Telecoms Report, the transatlantic subsea market should maintain its current growth of 20 percent over the next two years, which is not surprising. With

the increase of data consumption and enterprise migration to the cloud, data center and cloud providers need to meet the demand for bandwidth and are building new infrastructure to keep pace. With this new infrastructure expansion, there is an increased need for connectivity, especially from North America to the Caribbean, South America and Europe, and this is where Long Island enters the picture.


Long Island, with its close proximity to New York City and its strategic positioning along the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound, offers numerous subsea landing stations and a critical bypass around the generally congested and expensive Manhattan market. Due to this, Long Island is now set to become a top destination for enterprises and network operators seeking affordable,

low-latency subsea connectivity to international destinations. Long Island is becoming a major landing, regeneration and interconnection hub for submarine cables running between North America, the Caribbean, South America and Europe. Interest is also on the rise in the Long Island subsea cable market among enterprises and network operators seeking connectivity to the edge of the network. It’s no wonder that Long Island is becoming a rising epicenter for low-latency, subsea connectivity. Subsea cables, after all, are the fastest and most reliable solution for transmitting data across the world, and currently convey 99 percent of intercontinental telecommunications traffic. Access to the Long Island subsea cable market can be easily obtained through data centers and peering providers stationed on Long Island. These locations provide a place where multiple subsea

fiber optic cable networks can converge at a single point, offering colocation solutions and connecting to leading terrestrial networks. Here is a look at some of the main subsea cables that run through Long Island: »» AEConnect: This is the newest and most secure subsea cable system in the world, providing direct access between New York and London via Dublin, and beyond to greater Europe. »» AC-1 (Atlantic Crossing): The AC-1 cable runs between the U.S., the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. »» AC-2 (Yellow): This cable offers connectivity between the U.S. and the UK. »» MAC (Mid-Atlantic Crossing): The MAC cable runs over 4,500 miles and connects New York to Florida and the Virgin Islands. MAC also connects the Pan American Crossing (PAC), South

American Crossing (SAC) and AC-1 subsea systems to provide full connectivity between North America, Latin America and Europe. »» Cross Sound Cable System: As the name suggests, this cable runs directly through Long Island Sound, transmitting up to 330 MW of electricity between New York and New Haven.


The properties that rest along the shores of continents and the connecting subsea cables that deliver international connectivity are considered the ‘Continental Edge.’ Long Island’s key location is renowned for its ability to connect global subsea systems to terrestrial networks that bypass Manhattan for greater diversity and that peer into the New York metro areas, enabling easier access and delivery of content distributed to the Continental Edge. With interest in edge computing on the upswing, every operator should be looking to

Long Island for competitive and reliable connectivity.


Recently, leading global Internet Exchange operator, DE-CIX, established its newest Point-of-Presence (PoP) on Long Island. This new PoP provides an added benefit to enterprises seeking enhanced global connectivity by serving as the easternmost peering point in the United States, enabling easier access and delivery of content distributed to the Continental Edge. Additionally, this is particularly significant as it provides network operators with more options for getting data from and between different subsea cable landings to edge destinations with minimal latency and cost. Terrestrial connectivity is half the battle and sometimes half the cost when it comes to subsea capacity. It is vital for subsea system operators and the buyers and users of capacity of those systems to have direct access to a neutral interconnection facility that provides a

variety of terrestrial dark fiber and lit service networks at cost-effective rates in order for the subsea system to function optimally both operationally and financially. The expansion of DE-CIX New York’s footprint on Long Island enables Long Island-based network operators to gain more control of their networks, while providing access to world-class content providers as well as IP transit, Virtual Private Network (VPN) and blackholing services to mitigate the effects of DDoS attacks. By merging the benefits of colocation with local data centers as well as advanced peering opportunities through DE-CIX, this provides foundational support for intercontinental connectivity with direct access to the cables that connect the U.S., Africa, Europe and Latin America, all from one location. With the growing subsea transatlantic market, a rising number of enterprises and network operators will seek connectivity at the Continental Edge. With that, Long Island will soon become a leader for low-latency, transatlantic

interconnectivity, providing access to the cloud and a critical bypass around the congested and expensive Manhattan market. Enterprises and network operators can benefit from the facilities located here with direct connectivity, internet peering and cloud platforms with multiple Manhattan bypass fiber routes, enabling diverse and fortified solutions for enterprise and global telecom communications services. With the most reliable and diverse routes available and the easternmost peering point in the New York metro area, Long Island has already established itself as a nexus of the world’s communications.

Mr. Newby has amassed a deep subject matter expertise as an owner and operator in the network real estate business over the past 18 years. He is the Founder and CEO of Allied Fiber as well as an investor and partner in several other neutral colocation businesses including;

1025Connect, Colo ATL, Fibre Centre, Netrality and NJFX. Prior to founding Allied Fiber, he was a founder, Chief Strategy Officer and a Director of Telx. Mr. Newby has been involved in over $750 Million of transactions in the space. He is a recognized authority in the industry, has served on several Advisory Boards, is a published author, public speaker and the recipient of numerous awards including being named to the Global Telecoms Business Top 40 Under 40 in 2010. Mr. Newby earned a B.S. in Communications from Drexel University.

The Power of Submarine Information Transmission

There’s a new power under ocean uniting the world in a whole new way. With unparalleled development expertise and outstanding technology, Huawei Marine is revolutionizing trans-ocean communications with a new generation of repeaters and highly reliable submarine cable systems that offer greater transmission capacity, longer transmission distances and faster response to customer needs. Huawei Marine: connecting the world one ocean at a time.




or the better part of the last two centuries and through the present, commercial shipping routes have taken the shortest path between the ports of major cities that are separated by oceans, reducing the cost of fuel and travel time. Historically, subsea cables have also followed similar routes connecting the same global business hubs to reduce the amount of submarine cable equipment necessary, and minimize cost and latency. In the past, directly connecting cities with submarine cables made sense, as most early, transcontinental traffic was comprised of voice, and cities are the locales that are most densely populated. However, much has changed in the past decade with data traffic now far exceeding voice carried on submarine cables. Also, today, most submarine data traffic shuttles between massive data centers, the largest of which are owned and operated by large Internet Content Providers (ICPs). ICPs have had a tremendous impact on the amount of traffic carried by subsea cable systems. While bandwidth used for the public Internet has accounted for the majority of international bandwidth usage

for more than ten years, a paradigm shift has occurred. Private networks, led by major ICPs, are adding capacity at a faster pace than traditional Internet backbone operators. According to TeleGeography, private network bandwidth along the transatlantic corridor connecting North America to Europe exceeded Internet bandwidth for the first time three years ago, and the analyst firm predicts that by 2019, private networks will account for the majority of overall bandwidth usage globally. So, landing new submarine cables in or nearby large cities may make sense, provided the data centers are located near these cities.


While data centers were initially located close to end users in densely populated cities, this is decreasingly the case, as facilities are being built far away from cities to take advantage of more favorable regulatory environments, lower energy and real estate costs, and tax credits. Regardless of where data centers are being located, the network ultimately dictates the user experience. More on that later.

Users must have access to content stored in remote data centers and that necessitates high-speed network connectivity, which drives new submarine cable builds. Large data centers situated far from major metro areas challenge the traditional model of landing submarine cables in or very close to cities. Moreover, inland terrestrial networks can then connect users to the content within these data centers. For submarine cables targeted primarily at Data Centre Interconnectivity (DCI) applications, it’s preferable to move the Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE) out of traditional Cable Landing Stations (CLS) and directly into the data center. This is a viable option when using the latest generation of SLTE that is capable of crossing oceans with sufficient reach to go hundreds of kilometers further inland on both ends of the submarine cable. Undersea cable networks no longer have to terminate at the shoreline. While some equipment could remain in the CLS, such as Power Feed Equipment (PFE), moving SLTE inland is simply better architecture. Given the Point of Presence (PoP) to PoP nature of DCI connectivity, all parts of the end-to-end network must be seamlessly interconnected.


Many wholesale colocation facilities now offer customers access to multiple telecommunications providers inside their data centers. Cross-connect fees are monthly charges associated with these connections that are billed to the customer. There is usually one charge for each connection to the telecom carriers. Frequently, the cross-connect charges are based on the type of connection, i.e. fiber or copper, while in other instances they are based on the size of the circuit or are just flat fees. These monthly fees can quickly become burdensome,

however, especially when a customer has many connections to the Internet, remote branch offices, clients and vendors. A few wholesale data centers offer multiple carriers in a carrier-neutral facility with no cross-connect fees. For customers with multiple telecom connections, eliminating cross-connect fees translates into large savings for all involved parties, including the subsea cable owner-operator. Additionally, customers can move the hub of their networks to these no cross-connect fee facilities and build a flexible, resilient network with no financial restrictions on the number of carriers they choose to employ.


Subsea cables are massive pipes and the choice of the data center provider or providers to host the system at both ends of the cable is critical. Without these gateways, the capacity available on a given cable system is of no avail to anyone, hence the data centers themselves are essential because their customer footprint generates sales and ensures a cable system is maximizing the number of companies with access to its network. Among the criteria that determines the optimal data center provider for a given ca-

ble system is its proximity to major metro areas and data center campuses, geographic reach, price and reliability. This approach makes sense, as cable landing sites usually involve minimal infrastructure in the form of manhole near a beach where they come ashore and a small facility operated by the cable owner. From there, fiber routes can carry data to carrier hotels located in major cities such as New York. This is accomplished by linking to a dark or lit-fibre solution, connecting the cable system directly to the metro area’s existing fibre ring. Against this backdrop, a new trend is emerging as ever-increasing volumes of video, image, voice, and cloud traffic become critical to globalized businesses, especially between New York and Europe, which is the largest international Internet traffic route. Carrier-neutral colocation facilities are migrating away from the city centers’ major carrier hotels and moving closer to the cables, and in effect eliminating the toll fees for the wholesale market. At sites stretching from Canada to the end of the Florida peninsula, colocation providers are building data centers close by cable landing sites where undersea fibre-optic cables arrive in North America.

A prime example is NJFX (New Jersey Fiber Exchange), a colocation campus sited at a cable landing station located at the United States’ easternmost edge in Wall Township, New Jersey, offering carrier-neutral data center capabilities and zero cross-connect fees, and providing direct access to multiple subsea cable systems that interconnect North America, Europe, South America and the Caribbean. As we all know, 99 percent of global internet traffic runs through a submarine cable. And with Cisco predicting that global IP traffic will increase nearly threefold over the next five years, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 24 percent from 2016 to 2021, the advantages of this model are self-evident. NJFX’s proximity to a cable landing station, along with proximity to metro and long-haul terrestrial fibre systems, allows for extremely low latency and provides customers with the flexibility, reliability and security to drive revenue, reduce expenses and improve service quality. Although there are other carrier hotels in New Jersey, including 165 Halsey Street in Newark, where customers can access at least one of the submarine cables that land in nearby Manasquan, the bulk of transatlantic traffic still travels through the legacy network hubs in New York

City. It’s noteworthy that this model was created before September 11 and Hurricane Sandy, disasters that both took out significant portions of telecommunications infrastructure in Manhattan. NJFX’s location enables subsea cable owner-operators to bypass congested legacy New York City hubs, eliminating multiple points of failure while saving customers hefty cross-connect fees. While the business opportunities of siting colocation facilities at cable landings were showcased with the 2012 launch of an Equinix data center at a subsea cable landing in Boca Raton, Florida, another colocation facility that was established three years earlier, 1025Connect, located on Long Island in Westbury, New York, was the original game-changer. This facility is known for its ability to connect global subsea systems to terrestrial networks with the optional ability to bypass Manhattan for greater network diversity. It also serves as host to the easternmost peering point in the New York metro area, enabling easier access and delivery of content distributed to the ‘Continental Edge.’ If a company needs to connect from Newark or Ashburn, or the Cayman Islands or São Paulo to London, why should it have to go through New York? Having an alter-

native route makes New York less of a choke point. Another ideal location to connect subsea cables to their terrestrial networks while also enabling service providers to store data at that intersection is Virginia Beach, Virginia. Located approximately 370 kilometers from Ashburn and Loudon County, and at a distance from a region through which 70 Percent of the world’s Internet traffic flows, Virginia Beach will become the U.S. landing point for the new MAREA subsea cable backed by Microsoft and Facebook, which connects with Bilbao, Spain. Telefónica built a data center at the cable landing site, while EdgeConneX® has located a facility about 24 kilometers away in Norfolk.


One way to envision siting colocation facilities at cable landing stations where global subsea cables intersect and can extend onward to terrestrial networks is to imagine these interconnections as a system of expressways, on-ramps and local streets. If a company wants to transmit data from a subsea cable based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or one expressway, onto a transatlantic cable

or another expressway, one doesn’t look to turn off the expressway and travel down a local street only to sit bumper-to-bumper at a traffic light, and then get back up onto another on-ramp to switch to another expressway. Frankly, you’d want a mega junction where expressways interconnect because it saves you travel time, or in our business, latency, as well as tolls, or cross-connect fees — never mind protecting you from the bumps and congestion of that local metro location. That is the advantage carrier-neutral colocation providers building data centers at cable landing sites where undersea fibre-optic cables land and intersect. It’s a model built to facilitate a superhighway to feed the digital economy, eschewing bottlenecks and giving the green light to massive transoceanic data flows.

Nigel Bayliff, CEO of Aqua Comms DAC, is a global telecom industry veteran of 25-plus years’ experience. He has been an advisor and consultant to cable development, private equity and government clients, and Vice-Chairman of the United Nations Joint Task Force that examined the gathering of disaster mitigation and climate information from the global web of undersea cable systems. Mr. Bayliff also served as CEO and board member of Huawei Marine Networks, where he introduced several major, technological advances into the marketplace. Previously, he was a member of the executive team of FLAG Telecom where he was an officer and deputy chairman for several group companies, and was responsible for the construction and operation of the FLAG Global Network, which encompasses 65,000 km of submarine cable systems and provides carrier-grade connectivity services to 40 countries. In 2006, he was elected as a Fellow of the UK Institute of Engineering Technology.


Telecoms consulting of submarine cable systems for regional and trans-oceanic applications



f your network could talk, what would it tell you? Would it tell you it’s not feeling well, and about to fail? Would it detect faults, reroute traffic to prevent outages, and tell you the next morning what autonomous action was taken while you were sound asleep? Would it provide insights into its well-being from cradle (Ready for Service date) to grave (last day of service before being decommissioned)? Although it sounds like science fiction, we’re close to this level of interaction with our networks. In fact, some of these capabilities are available right now, and the reason is the advent of big data analytics, machine learning, and eventually full-blown artificial intelligence.


AI is defined as a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in

computers, and the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior1. It’s common for people to fear AI, and rightfully so if you subscribe to how Hollywood has portrayed this technology in some of my favorite movies, such as The Terminator and The Matrix. Although these movies are science fiction, we do use AI in our daily lives with Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo. Movie streaming services, such as Netflix, help us decide what movies to watch, such as The Terminator (for a self-fulfilling prophecy?). You’ve likely seen IBM’s Watson AI win the popular U.S.-based TV gameshow called Jeopardy! AI is all around us, and we’re learning to appreciate the power of this technology in all aspects of our lives. AI was defined back in the 1950s, so it’s not new, but after much promise (and fear), it simply didn’t live up to its hype for many

reasons, most notably the complete lack of processing power and software tools necessary to bring this revolutionary technology to life. However, everything has changed in recent years with AI now finding its way into consumer and business applications, such as selfaware networks.


Based on personal experience, if you asked 10 people for their definition of the Cloud, you’d likely get 10 different responses. So, let’s define the Cloud simply as compute and storage resources interconnected by high-speed networks that host software-based applications that manipulate and present data to end-users, both man and machine. Let’s delve into each component that together comprise the Cloud and see what’s changed to allow for the momentous advances on the horizon for both terrestrial and submarine net-

works, and you’ll discover that the future network that enables the AI-centric services is closer than you think...


Modern CPUs have advanced forward, offering ever-increasing processing power that is integrated into platforms clustered together for huge increases in parallel processing power. As a result, these CPUs can reach previously unthinkable performance considering the size of today’s mammoth data centers where you can buy as much processing power as you need, with just a credit card. If you need even more processing power than is available from a single mammoth data center, processing power from multiple physical and geographically separated data centers can be virtually combined into a virtual data center without walls. With increased processing power comes increased costs, but from a purely processing power perspective, a data center without walls unleashes essentially unlimited performance for today’s needs and is a key reason why ubiquitous AI-centric applications are much closer than we think in many areas, such as the network itself.


Available and field-proven open source software allows app developers to store a single, massive set of data across multiple processing platforms, which can be within the same data center or spread out across numerous physically separated data centers, for essentially unlimited storage. This allows for storing and manipulating previously impossible amounts of data, such as data gathered from the same networks interconnecting data centers, for powerful analytics offering new insights that will lead to improved overall decision-making. For example, who better to tell you about

your network health than your network itself? You see where I’m going with this, right?


Open source software has permeated countless industries and markets, and one would be rather naïve to think the networking industry would be any different. Benefits of open source software include those related to security, support, flexibility, quality, customizability, control, and of course cost, as the code itself is free. It should be noted that open source means costs shift to other areas, such as integration testing, customization, support, and so on, so although the code it-

self is typically free, the overall total cost of ownership is not. That said, benefits outweigh costs (and risks) in most cases, and explains why this unstoppable juggernaut is being adopted by industries the world over. How’s open source software facilitating the move to AI in the network? Let’s look at Hadoop as an example, which supports a distributed file system and processing framework that stores and processes structured and unstructured data by dividing workloads across potentially thousands of servers. Such software complements storage and processing resources clustered together both within and across multiple data centers. This is just one

of the plethora of open source tools available today that are not only freely available, but battle-tested and hardened in the field by some of the largest ICPs on earth, which in the networking world alludes to carrier-grade performance.


Let’s define Big Data as which exceeds the processing capacity of conventional database systems and is too big, too fast, does not fit the existing database management systems, and/or is too big to practically move between servers using legacy static networks2. The last part, “too big to practically move between servers

using legacy static networks”, is of interest to our industry. Most submarine network bandwidth lit today is for Data Center Interconnect (DCI) purposes that facilitates moving vast amounts of data between storage and compute resources, so in most cases, this obstacle has been overcome and will continue to be, as more bandwidth is lit annually over global submarine networks. Big Data is made up of structured data, information with a predefined data model and/or is organized in a predefined manner (ex. sensor data, point-of-sale data, call records, server logs) and unstructured data, information with no predefined data model and/or isn’t

organized in a predefined manner (ex. text files, presentations, videos, email, images, texts). The promise of Big Data is predicated on analyzing structured and unstructured data, which is facilitated by numerous open source software tools, such as Hadoop mentioned above. The more data gathered and analyzed, the better the detection of patterns and anomalies leading to improved decision-making, and is why network sensor data can be combined with business-related data for even broader and more competitive market insights.


Embedded sensors are the foundation of AI that provide windows into the network. They generate the raw data that’s fed into machine-learning algorithms with the end goal of better-informed decisions and subsequent actions, either manual (humans) or autonomous (machines). Without raw sensor data, network AI isn’t an option so if AI is in your future, the underlying network must be instrumented. Environmental groups are also requesting sensors be added to subsea networks to measure various subsea environmental parameters that would be used for purely scientific purposes, such as climate change analysis and various oceanic habitat studies. There are commercial, technological, and even political issues to address before such environmental sensors are added to future submarine cables, but the reason for including these sensors is rather intuitive from purely scientific (and earthling) perspectives.


A highly-instrumented network must make available the boatload of sensor data to offline software tools so it can be properly analyzed in local and/or remote data centers.

If not, the sensor data is as good as encyclopedias locked in a safe – great information but inaccessible, rendering it useless. Open APIs allow for standards-based access into instrumented networks where the data generated by the embedded sensors can be easily extracted and manipulated. The more data extracted from the network, the more compute and storage resources will be required, meaning moving the gathered data into one or more data centers. Fortunately, ICPs have already pioneered this path.


Finally, the same network that allows for massive amounts of data to be transported to and from data centers hosting both storage and compute resources that enable AI for other industries, can be leveraged for its own beneficial uses. Highly instrumented networks will generate massive amounts of Big Data made readily available via open APIs to machine learning algorithms running on applications in one or more data centers. This will allow networks to become increasingly self-aware, smarter, and

more autonomous than they are today. We’ll have come full circle, where the network that enables AI in the first place, will listen to itself via embedded sensors, transport raw data over itself to data centers, have it analyzed offline, and then use the outcome of big data analytics to make informed, autonomous decisions.


As with human relationships, networks that fail to communicate with us cannot become trusted partners so as they get smarter and increasingly autonomous, the interface between us and them must also evolve. Before we can trust, we must first fully understand how AI-based networks will reason towards autonomous decisions before we hand over control of the network to the network. Admittedly, this is where things go bad – really bad – in some of my favorite movies, but I’m less worried about being terminated by armies of cybernetic organisms and more worried about losing access to internet content and applications. Hollywood has done a great job making the masses suspicious (and downright fearful) of AI, but once we

understand it and how it can benefit us, it becomes a far more attractive and less scary technology, which is a good thing because the necessary building blocks are now in place… are you ready for network AI? Brian Lavallée is the Senior Director of Portfolio Marketing with global responsibility for Ciena’s Packet and Submarine networking solutions. Brian has over 20 years of telecommunications experience with past roles in Product Line Management, Systems Engineering, Research & Development, and Manufacturing. During his career, he has worked in various areas of optical networking including access, metro, regional, long-haul, and submarine networks. He holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree from Concordia University and an MBA in Marketing from McGill University, both located in Montréal, Québec, Canada.



ew Orleans - What a city! Things are happening as NOLA is getting ready for its Tricentennial next year, just in time for SubOptic in April 2019. The SubOptic Organizing Committee, consisting of representatives from STF Events, SubOptic Association, Ciena and Xtera, visited the city in May for its kick-off meeting and saw what is on offer for the SubOptic 2019 Conference. The committee toured the conference hotel, as well as several possible venues for the SubOptic Gala, one of which is Antoine’s, the oldest restaurant in NOLA. Antoine’s has a 176-year-old legacy and is still owned and operated by the fifth generation of relatives of the original founder, Antoine Alciatore. The world-renowned French-Creole cuisine, impeccable service and unique atmosphere have combined to create an unmatched NOLA dining experience since 1840.

The committee also discussed a revitalized partner and family program, as there are several interesting attractions for them to participate in – from an airboat tour of the bayou or a culinary tour of world class restaurants, to exploring world renowned jazz or how Mardi Gras floats are built – not to mention the history around virtually every corner. The city has something to offer everyone that attends. The convention hotel, New Orleans Marriot, is situated on the threshold of the French Quarter, which is the heart beat and soul of NOLA. The committee is considering adding a charity golf outing, which would benefit youth that are interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), allowing the SubOptic Association to expand its community outreach, as well as help promote our industry’s diverse future. The committee agreed to pursue the development of a Continu-

ing Education accreditation for Master Classes along with a forward looking and expansive conference program. One big decision to come out of the kick-off meeting was to promote exclusive pre-sales of sponsorships and booths to SubOptic members during the month of July as an added benefit of involvement in the new association. Regular sponsorships and booths sales start to the industry at large in August. We have also held discussions with some of the leaders from the Oil & Gas industry with ties to our industry and look forward to exciting announcements in the coming months, as those talks continue. We are looking forward to an energized SubOptic 2019 Conference in an amazing city - NOLA. Christopher Noyes began his career in 1996 as the Meeting and Incentive Director for Spectrum Industries, providing company sales and incentives meetings. His experience includes producing meetings, trade shows and events in USA, Mexico, Bahamas, Canada, and Holland, and has produced meetings and events for the Urban Land Institute, Coca-Cola, Medtronic, Bank of America JER Partners, Legg Mason Wood Walker, and Avery Communications. He possesses the international designation of Certified Meeting Professional form the Convention Industry Council, and joined Submarine Telecoms Forum in 2016 as Conference Director to help develop and lead the company’s venture, STF Events.










elivering content across Europe is a difficult balancing act. On the one hand, terrestrial networks need to be adapted to handle vast, often unpredictable increases in traffic volumes, mostly generated by bandwidth-intensive video streaming applications, cloud computing and other multi-media offerings. On the other hand, infrastructures need increased efficiency and the scalability to push content increasingly closer to and within cities where most end-users reside, both man and machine, all while lowering transport costs. As well as offering the scalability to handle vast and constantly growing data volumes, terrestrial networks backhauling submarine traffic must be highly resilient, with diverse routes between strategic points of presence. They need direct connectivity into data centres

across the continent, and must offer low-latency for maintaining quality of service (QoS) for demanding customers.


As a leading provider of European connectivity solutions, euNetworks owns and operates 14 dense fibre-based metropolitan city networks. It connects these with a hugely scalable, diverse intercity backbone that extends to 48 cities in 13 countries, with direct connectivity to more than 300 data centres. euNetworks’ footprint also supports backhaul requirements from the cable landing stations in Marseille to the rest of Europe. euNetworks’ Marseille network expansion, completed in 2016, delivers traffic from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Mediterranean to major European cities such as

London, Dublin, Paris, and Frankfurt. Capacity and reach has also been increased via additional routes in France, including from Paris and Lyon to Marseille. And, as euNetworks delivers pan-European connectivity with diverse and, at times, ‘triverse’ routes, unique connections can be formed from Marseille to Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Basel, Zurich, and Milan. Further north, two diverse routes from Northern Germany to Stockholm, can pick up traffic from major markets to the East, including Russia, and China. The Eastern Stockholm route connects via Copenhagen and the Western route via Oslo, with an additional new network path from Hamburg to Amsterdam, avoiding Düsseldorf. These routes across the continent mean euNetworks’ customers can remain on the same infrastruc-

our products

​Delivering a focused product set based on Dark Fibre, Wavelengths and Ethernet Internet

Tier 2 ISP (AS13237) of Internet access, leveraging direct peering relationships and upstream transit from tier 1 ISPs


Transmission product, offering private connections between DCs and many business locations

Long Haul Wavelengths

Transmission product, offering high capacity connectivity on the long haul, typically DC-DC between cities

Metro Wavelengths

Transmission product, offering high capacity connectivity in the metro, e.g. DC-DC/Enterprise for cloud deployments

©euNetworks. All rights reserved.

Dark Fibre

Core asset of the business. Leased fibre by strand in the metro and long haul


Space + power in colocation centres for hosting of servers and telecom equipment


Customers can buy the connectivity services they need on our wholly owned infrastructure

ture from one metro to another, from Dublin, Amsterdam, London, through to Paris, Marseille, Frankfurt and up to Stockholm.


Terrestrial connectivity across Europe must be both reliable and cost-effective. Since euNetworks owns most of the ducts and fibre pathways and operates its network, it can offer a wide range of network services and commercial models to meet different data transport requirements. One example of this flexibility is its ‘euSpectrum’ offering, which delivers customers access to a dedicated cost effective alternative to procuring long haul dark fibre. This solution delivers DWDM channels on euNetworks’ Pan European

DWDM backbone, enabling customers to take large chunks of capacity between cities and effectively building Terabit+ high capacity managed backbones in a scalable and cost effective way. euNetworks’ core products are Fibre, Wavelengths and Ethernet and these are bundled into tailored solutions, giving operators access to connectivity options that match differing needs.


With data demands growing exponentially, it can be difficult to predict future bandwidth needs. To help overcome this challenge euNetworks provides agile services that are fast to turn up and scale. With strong supply chain standards and detailed inventory, the company can identify and utilise capacity quickly and efficiently across

its entire infrastructure. Additionally, the organisation’s partnerships with the leading network equipment providers means capacity can be deployed extremely quickly where it is most needed. These factors mean that multiple 100G Wavelengths can be turned up for customers in a very short period of time, sometimes in as little as a few days.

“100G Wavelengths can be turned up for customers in a very short period of time, sometimes in as little as a few days.”


As the volume of data continues to explode worldwide, operators

and content delivery companies need terrestrial network partners that can scale available bandwidth extremely rapidly. This is one of the advantages of the euNetworks infrastructure. euNetworks’ network investment to Marseille and into the Nordics last year was built on the Ciena 6500 packet-optical platform, equipped with WaveLogic coherent optics, providing ultra-high-bandwidth and scalable networking services.


With the rise of cloud computing and IoT, increasing numbers of applications are latency sensitive. Wherever possible, euNetworks is reducing network route length to maximise the capacity on its fibre routes, and offering low-latency in the process. As a market leader in engineering and building ultra-low-latency connectivity networks for the financial community, euNetworks has the track record,

experience and focus on low-latency technology to make it an excellent partner for cloud connectivity and other latency sensitive applications. euNetworks offers 8.26 milliseconds round trip delay (RTD) on its London-Frankfurt route and 0.42 milliseconds RTD London-Slough, both high performing ultra-low-latency routes for the company.

“With a special focus on low-latency performance, the organisation is an excellent partner for cloud connectivity and other latency-sensitive applications.”


Connecting submarine cable landing stations, data centres, metro centres and buildings means euNetworks provides a strategic mix for all traffic requirements, be it the

shortest routes possible to deliver low-latency paths for local distribution, diversity and triversity, scalable connectivity that can adapt as traffic patterns shift, or helping to get content to consumers as fast as possible. To find out more about euNetworks and how it can help deliver traffic across Europe reliably and efficiently, please contact info@ or visit to explore the euNetworks footprint and capabilities by site.



his article looks at how system design choices can affect the cost, resilience and flexibility that can be achieved in regional systems, which typically connect a number of locations and often involve relatively modest distances. This produces both opportunities and challenges that are different from those found in long-span systems.


Extra capacity is usually of interest and can be achieved in a number of ways. Increasing the number of fibres gives the possibility of selling a complete “dark” pair, but requires more amplifiers per repeater. By contrast, extra fibres are generally the best solution in a repeaterless system, except where expensive, ultra-low loss fibre is needed. Keeping the same number of fibres and using 8/16QAM in place of QPSK increases the capacity by 50/100 percent, but requires the Optical Signal to Noise Ratio (OSNR) to be improved by around 4/8 dB. This increases the number of repeaters, as OSNR is improved by moving the repeaters closer together, thus improving the input signal. Increasing the amplifier bandwidth with a C+L or a hybrid EDFA/


regional system is dominated by cable and marine costs, so increasing the capacity per fibre pair with 8/16QAM or higher bandwidth amplifiers is often very cost-effective despite the need for a few more repeaters. Adding extra fibre pairs is generally less cost-effective because it also adds extra amplifiers. As an example, Xtera recently looked at a short link where the per fibre capacity could be taken from 21T to 42T by increasing the repeater bandwidth to 63 nm and adding just two repeaters. This was significantly more economical than doubling the number of fibre pairs.


With or Without Repeaters? At first sight, a repeaterless system might seem the lowest cost solution, since the cable is less expensive and it removes cost elements such as repeaters, Power Feed Equipment (PFE) and ground systems. For short spans this is true, but as the distances become greater, it becomes necessary to use lower loss fibre and possibly to include Remote Optically-Pumped Amplifiers (ROPAs), which add expense. It’s also important to consider


requiring two landings, which adds very significantly to the marine installation costs. The solution with repeaters and BUs has only single landings, and PFE and ground costs can be reduced by putting the BUs close enough to the shore to have no repeaters in the branches. Hence, the cost comparison is not as obvious as it might seem and will depend on the difficulty of the marine installation, e.g. burial, etc. In the repeaterless festoon, all the traffic from Site A must pass through Site 1, so a cable fault in either of its landing cables, or a problem in the station, will lose all this traffic. The BU solution can avoid this, either by using Optical Add/ Drop Multiplexing (OADM) BUs, or with a second fibre creating a flat ring. The ring is probably the more costly solution, as it requires extra amplifiers in each repeater. While the OADM BU provides protection against branch cuts, its downside is that the traffic drop is fixed and traffic demands are hard to forecast. A reconfigurable OADM (ROADM) BU is the obvious solution, but compared with a simple fixed OADM BU, it comes at higher cost and it will have higher optical





Fault A





No repeaters




Raman architecture can roughly double the capacity, but again, the repeater spacing will be reduced and the amplifiers will probably cost somewhat more than conventional ones. The cost of a typical

resilience to faults, as can be seen by comparing a system with repeaters and Branching Units (BUs) with a repeaterless festoon. In the repeaterless festoon, one can see that there are three sites

3 losses, which may require an extra repeater to be added. An alternative could be to consider designing the system for a higher capacity and using a fixed OADM. For example, imagine that the system requirements were for






B Fault 1 BU1

2 Fibre-routing BUs


Protection pair



Fault 1 100 x 100G with 10-30 percent drop. This could be achieved with 100 x 100G and a ROADM BU, or with 120 x 100G and a fixed 30 channel drop, of which only a part might be used. The reduced losses of the fixed OADM BU will generally make the higher capacity possible without increasing the number of repeaters, thus producing a more cost-effective and simpler system. This solution, of course, becomes more difficult with larger drop ratios.




In general, traffic needs to be delivered to inland centres and this is most cost-effectively achieved by bypassing the landing point — replacing terminal equipment with amplifiers — and placing the terminal equipment at the point where the traffic is to be delivered. The PFE, however, needs to remain at the landing station, as terrestrial cables cannot carry the high voltages needed to power the subsea cable.

2 In a regional system, the amplifiers in the land section can have a significant effect on the overall noise. In the example shown, the two amplifiers in the land section would produce 25 percent of the total noise if all the spans were the same, but in reality, it could be worse. Installed terrestrial fibre often has losses of 0.23-0.25 dB/km. So, a 90 km span could be >27 dB, typically 3 dB or more worse than a submarine span, and the noise produced by an amplifier increases if it has to compensate for lower input signals. Because installed fibre usually has low effective area — typically 80 μm2 or lower — power levels are limited by non-linear effects and one cannot offset the loss by increasing transmit power. Some improvement is possible, however, by using Raman amplification, which improves the amplifier noise figure. If this isn’t enough, the optical loss between subsea amplifiers has to be reduced, which means either more repeaters or lower loss fibre, both of which add to the cost.

3 It would seem natural to use terrestrial amplifiers for the land section, but a re-packaged subsea amplifier is also worth considering for the reliability that the duplicated pumping will bring. In some cases, a larger issue may be the risk of the land cable route being damaged, in which case route diversity is required. In this case, there is no need for a complex protection mechanism, and Xtera has supplied a simple 1+1 protection switch that simply selects whichever route is available for a number of applications. Another requirement could be to deliver the traffic from one fibre pair to several different sites, which can be achieved by an ROADM or fixed wavelength splitter/combiner at the landing point. In this scenario, the specialised Line Monitoring Equipment (LME) that handles the repeaters must be sited at the landing point because the LME requires access to the full spectrum, not just a part of it. It’s worth noting that because all the

Landing point PFE

A Repeater


Traffic Delivery point B

Landing point PFE

Traffic Delivery point B



Tony joined Xtera in 2004 initially managing Marketing and Proposals for terminal equipment and upgrades and then responsible for products such as Repeaters and Branching Units, and now serves as CTO.

submarine-specific units are at the landing point, this configuration could be “open” to other suppliers’ terminals at B, C and D, providing that the “ROADM” is able to handle issues such as the failure or disconnection of the other suppliers’ terminals.


Regional system design can benefit from the modest spans in these networks, which make the cost of capacity low. It’s possible to bypass the landing station and put terminal

equipment inland, but this may be more challenging than with a longer system because the number of amplifiers on land is a larger fraction of the total. These extended systems can connect to multiple traffic delivery points and, with appropriate equipment design, can be “open” to the use of other suppliers’ terminals.

Tony started work at BT’s Research labs investigating cable problems and then moved to Alcatel Australia, becoming involved in testing and commissioning submarine systems. A move to Bell Labs gave him experience in terminal design and troubleshooting, after which he went back to Alcatel France, where he worked in Alcatel Submarine Networks’ Technical Sales before moving to head Product Marketing.

Landing point PFE

Traffic Delivery points B





ust south of the United States and scattered across an area of more than 2 million. 750 thousand square-kilometers, lie the Caribbean islands whose 28 individual nations are isolated from North, Central and South America by the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. While this region is home to more than 39 million people, to many the availability of advanced technologies routinely available to other nations around the world is in short supply. It all comes down to the cost of capacity, and as a result of expensive and antiquated subsea cable connectivity, the Caribbean region finds itself at a major disadvantage when compared to highly developed nations such as the United States and those of Western Europe. Understanding the history surrounding subsea communication and its influence on the Caribbean islands is key to unlocking the region’s potential and empowering its people, as well as

encouraging enterprises and stimulating government agencies through technological and economic growth.


Technology has taken subsea cables through three distinct eras since the mid-19th century. From single-conductor copper wires for telegraphy in the 1850s to coaxial cables for telephony in the 1950s, and finally optical fibre cables for data transmission in the 1980s. In addition to subsea cables, a fourth technology emerged in the 20th century which caused a fundamental shift in the management of long-distance communications. Orbiting satellites were the first technology to provide the transmission of television signals, and bought about lower cost and complexity for international telephone calls and business transactions. However, whilst an effective broadcast solution,

satellite proved to be an unreliable means of two-way communication and provided minimal capacity for high-bandwidth transmissions. In the early days of telegraphy cables, the critical developments surrounding subsea deployment were the manufacturing of resilient insulators and signal amplifiers, as well as the availability of steamships large enough to carry cables to open water. While all these problems were solved long before fibre-optics came into existence, evolving technology presented new challenges. At its outset, the development of physical fibre was a significant challenge. Technology professionals worked alongside glass makers to create a material that could not only traverse the world but transmit all wavelengths with equal transparency. However, the opportunities that lay ahead heavily outweighed the technical challenges and as a result, fibre-optic systems quickly replaced

the legacy coaxial technology and satellites as a more effective, affordable and flexible communications technology. By the turn of the 21st century, a network of fibre communication cables traversed the globe and fierce competition provided affordable data transmission that truly exploited internet based services; the sleeping world wide web had awoken. Today, these intercontinental cables enable our ‘connected’ world and have brought about massive investment in products and services that rely on the new capacity and reach now available.


While the technology was developed in the 1980s, subsea fibre-optic connectivity did not make its way to the Caribbean until September 1995 with the deployment of the East Caribbean Fibre System (ECFS)

cable. For the general population, this cable was game-changing. It brought media and communications to a region that had previously been isolated from the most fundamental late 20th century technological developments, a luxury that previously had primarily been reserved for government and military agencies over legacy copper systems. This 1750-kilometer repeater-less fibre-optic communication cable is still in use, interconnecting 14 Caribbean nations from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad in 10 individual segments. Many of these nations have underdeveloped economies due to the absence of efficient overseas communication, and geographical isolation makes it difficult for modernization and economic evolution to take place. The deployment of the ECFS cable and subsequent systems have helped to alleviate this problem, however the technology has since become anti-

quated and fails to address modern needs for high-bandwidth interconnectivity.


As a congregation of sea-locked nations with underdeveloped economies in a region that is highly prone to natural disasters, establishing reliable and technologically advanced connectivity throughout the Caribbean has proven to be an expensive and complex process. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and droughts are common experiences for people living in the Caribbean. The frequency of natural disasters throughout the region puts Caribbean nations in somewhat of a Catch-22, as it both necessitates reliable international connectivity when outside help is needed, whilst

also making its deployment particularly difficult. In addition, strained relations between the U.S. and some Caribbean nations presents a challenge to the establishment of interconnectivity. This is particularly true for Cuba, which has a long history of hostile political U.S relations, including a trade embargo that has been in effect for nearly 50 years. From a topographical perspective, as communities around the world gain a heightened awareness of their responsibility towards environmental preservation, companies deploying subsea cables throughout the Caribbean must be careful to ensure they do not disrupt marine life and natural underwater structures such as coral reefs. To overcome this challenge, providers must meticulously map out routes that bypass protected areas, minimizing any potential disturbance. To protect their cables, these subsea network providers must consider the mapping of tectonic plates and avoid fault lines that could distort cable routes.


Industry experts predict there will be significant growth in demand for fast and reliable connectivity throughout the Caribbean over the coming decade. This increasing demand is expected in anticipation of substantial investment in fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure. Since the region’s interconnectivity landscape is somewhat behind the times, certainly when compared to the U.S. and Europe, there is significant growth potential stemming from the proliferation of OTT (Over-the-Top) and IoT (Internet of Things) technology. Increased subscriber populations require additional capacity for bandwidth-intensive applications, and the investments in terrestrial backhaul and domestic networks have led to a rise in aggregate demand for off-island capacity. Unfortunately, Caribbean bandwidth pricing remains among the

highest in the world, at least 12 times more expensive than transatlantic capacity, six times more expensive than transpacific capacity and two and a half times more expensive than capacity between the U.S. and Brazil. This prohibitive underlying cost for connectivity is particularly an issue for smaller islands that reside far from continental coasts such as Antigua and Barbados. Although connectivity is expensive, existing fibre-optic cable systems are both technologically and economically disadvantaged. There have been no new pan-regional deployments over the past decade and the region’s primary undersea cable links, including ECFS, are close to or already exceeded their planned technical lifespan of around 20 to 25 years. Caribbean citizens, companies and governmental organisations need connectivity that provides higher capacity, lower unit costs, high availability and reliability, and low-latency and direct connectiv-

ity… So, it’s time to ask ourselves, “How can we help?”


Though the price of connectivity in the Caribbean is at an all-time high, it doesn’t necessarily have to remain that way. Subsea system developers throughout the region are beginning to realise that these prices are depressing the markets and driving away potential business. As a commodity, bandwidth can be neither saved nor transferred, and any unused capacity perishes. In addition, the presence of new subsea cable providers throughout the Caribbean will bring about competition that will ultimately erode the base unit price. Separately, driving increased connectivity is the Caribbean Regional Communication Infrastructure Program (CARCIP). Run by the governments of Saint Lucia, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the objective of this association is to increase access to regional broadband networks and advance the development of an ICT-enabled services industry across the Caribbean islands. This program plans to accomplish this goal with six objectives:

1. Targeted investments in ICT infrastructure at regional and domestic levels 2. Creation and enablement of an environment that fosters competitive access to digital infrastructure 3. Support for the creation of e-services, including mobile government (m-government) services 4. Integration of rural areas into the knowledge and information society 5. Strengthened institutional arrangements that ensure effective program implementations and outcomes 6. Improved procurement and safeguards processes that ensure sustainable investments in ICT As a result, this initiative will benefit 27 million 500 thousand people throughout both rural and urban areas in the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) region, including operators, schools, hospitals, emergency responders, government ministries and departments, ICT services consumers, businesses and employees, and m-government service users. In addition, the establishment of more affordable and reliable connectivity throughout the Caribbean will not only benefit the region itself but international enterprises

as well. Throughout the Caribbean, many nations’ populace is proficient in both Spanish and English, so improved connectivity presents a unique opportunity for foreign companies to invest and enhance their versatility with the establishment of local operations centres. Connectivity throughout the Caribbean islands is evolving rapidly as developers and operators plan new system builds. This will not only make international communication easier and more widespread, but faster and more affordable. Stephen Scott is CEO of Deep Blue Cable Limited. Stephen is an Honours Engineering Graduate bringing over 25 years’ senior level experience in telecoms from Global Marine Systems, PSiNet Europe, Sentrum Data Centres and Global Switch. Alongside these roles, he has spent 10 years as COO at Bridgehouse Capital, gaining significant private equity experience while participating in multiple sector acquisitions, restructures and company sales. Stephen is Non Exec Chairman at Magnus Life Science and Virtual1, the UK’s fastest growing telecoms company.




hannon established in 1948 that for any given degree of noise contamination of a communication channel, it is possible to communicate nearly error-free up to a computable maximum rate through the channel (Reference1). Shannon did not describe how to reach this limit, but this work gave rise to an intense activity of engineers who developed the Forward Error Correction techniques that are now broadly applied in many fields: wireless and satellite communications, optical communications, magnetic and optical recording. Forward Error Correction (FEC) were first developed in communications for radio systems since radio propagation is subject to noise distortion and fading. At the opposite, the digital optical systems built their reputation as being the most predictable and stable communication channel, allowing a very good transmission with a very low bit error rate. Thus, FEC took time to be adopted in optical telecommunications, and took even more time to be positively perceived. Submarine cables have been the key driver for FEC applications to optical fiber systems. The “Shannon limit� is now practically attained over submarine cables by coherent optical submarine systems owing to modern FEC Digital Signal Processing techniques. This short paper summarizes this FEC epic that is now recognized as a key technology in modern submarine cables, in symbiosis with coherent technology.


FEC is a difficult topic based on complex mathematics and closely linked to data encryption. After the fundamental pioneer work by Shannon, the theoretical schemes of Error Correction were developed in years 1960-1970, and the implementation started in 1970, the ef-

Figure 1: CS Dacia off the Silvertown Works (c.1869) from

forts being driven by the new born radio satellite communication. Before moving to the history, I propose to illustrate FEC by a concrete (over)simplified example. Let us consider binary data, say x=10 data. We can add a parity bit at the end of these data. Consider now y=10 times this pattern and organize them in successive lines. An additional line can be constituted by the parity bit of each column, as illustrated in Figure 1. This exemplify forward encoding: k=x*y digital data (10x10 here) are encoded inside what is called a block of n data=(x+1)*(y+1) (10+1 * 10+1=121 here) encoded bits from a transmitter. The FEC code rate is here k/n=100/121=0.826 and the overhead is n/k=1.21. The data overhead is thus 21%. Then after transmission and detection, the parity bits can be checked by the decoding. When an error happens, a wrong bit is induced in this pattern. The parity checks are then wrong in 1 line and 1 column. The erroneous bit can be clearly identified and corrected by the decoder that will then remove the extra bits overhead and deliver the uncorrupted k data. In this example, 1 error in 100 data (10-2 BER) can be corrected with 21%

FEC overhead. 2 errors can also be identified, but not always corrected so that the output BER is around 10-4 in this example. This is not a very powerful scheme, but it illustrates basic ideas behind FEC. It illustrates the notion of code length (n), code rate (k/n), overhead, and even the notion of a block code (in opposition to the so-called convolutional codes that process sliding series of data) and of concatenated product code (arrangement of 2 cascaded codes). It is even illustrating the coding gain: a 10-7 input BER (Q factor=14dB) get 10-13 output BER (Q=17.5dB) after FEC decoding, so that the FEC Coding Gain (CG) is around 3.5 dB. Modern FEC are all based on block product codes, but their algorithms are much more powerful than the above illustrated parity check, and thus FEC Net Coding Gain (NCG) in approaching the 11dB Shannon limit for 25% overhead at 10-13 output BER (12 dB at 10-15 output BER).


The first demonstration of FEC in optical systems was performed in a development laboratory of Alcatel in French Britany in 1988 at 622

Figure 2: Public demonstration of a chain of optical amplifiers at ECOC’91 in Paris

Mbit/s by Jean Luc Pamart, based on a discrete transistor board surrounding four LSI Logic chips that came from the Magnetic tape data storage, and working each at a bit rate around 140 Mbit/s. In order to achieve STM-4 (622 Mbit/s), all the electronic processing for multiplexing, overhead injection, buffering to treat FEC blocks, and resynchronization was done with discrete electronics so that the FEC encoder/ decoder equipment was an impressive large rack equipment. The topic was managed secretly with no publication (the patent took some time to be granted). But this scheme directly turned into a SDH STM-4 product that was soon used directly in unrepeatered optical links providing a performance competitive advantage during several years (Reference 2). The LSI logic chip implemented already the now famous Reed Solomon RS (255,239) having k=255 and n=239, and thus a 7% overhead. This was the first example of a FEC implementation in optical systems and it was already relying on an integrated silicon chip FEC engine. All the future optical implementation of FEC with ever increasing speed had to rely on integration of a FEC engine on a costly single integrated ASIC circuit, while FPGA or prototypes could only provide a

flavor of the final solution but not a full scale demonstration. The great chance of this first implementation was that the integrated LSI chip investment was already done for other applications. The scheme was aligned with the recent normalization for satellite communication, the CCSDS, that was normalizing at that time a concatenation of a 100% overhead Viterbi convolutional code, with the RS(255,239) cleaning FEC. For the optical system, only the Reed Solomon was retained since it was a block code simple to implement and consuming a small electronic overhead. It was the same FEC as for magnetic storage simply because

engineers reuse the same solutions when they are easy to implement. At the same time, early 1990, optical amplification was studied as a promising technology for submarine cables. A public demonstration with 20 cascaded amplifiers took place in ECOC 91 in Paris (Figure 2). It was soon recognized by Alcatel that implementing the FEC in the submarine amplified line terminal will provide a gain on each span of the link, whatever the number of spans that meant first saving a tremendous number of repeaters in a given link length. The FEC margin was also an extraordinary tool to increase the transmission length, or the bit rate on a given amplified link with the same rational. See Figure 3. AT&T was not keen to implement FEC in the first transatlantic Optical Amplifier based repeaters at 5Gbit/s (TAT-12/13), since integration between different terminal suppliers would have possibly let to a nightmare. But overall, the community had promoted the optical transmission as being error free, and was then reluctant to accept a line having errors. Alcatel has developed its 5Gbit/s Giga-5 submarine terminal with RS (255,239) FEC in 1994, but the extra memory and processing for multiplexing and bit rate changes was let empty for the version integrated of TAT-12/13 with AT&T. Immediately after Alcatel offered

Figure 3: usage of the FEC gain in a repeatered amplified link

its 5Gbit/s version with Reed Solomon FEC scheme on the market, and implemented on TAT-12/13 for the first WDM upgrade (Reference 3). In addition, this scheme was offered for submarine normalization that was accepted finally in ITU-T G975. By chance, FEC was not mandatory for 2.5Gbit/s and 5Gbit/s systems and several years of education of the community were offered before the deployment of 10Gbit/s WDM that was definitely enabled by FEC. All terminal suppliers applied this Reed Solomon RS (255,239) code. The Reed Solomon code was very successful since its block type structure permitted to treat electronically the decoding in parallel at an achievable electronic speed, coping with the increasing optical bit rates: The signal at the line baud rate is processed in the FEC encoder and decoder after an electronic Multiplexor (for encoder) and an electronic Demultiplexor (for decoder). The RS(255,239) was used in submarine systems during more than 10 years while normalized by ITU-T G975, that was an amazing success. Even now, this code is still the reference for client interfaces of OTN with ITU-T G709 normalization.


Reed Solomon RS (255,239) is a 7% overhead FEC having a 5.8 dB Net Coding Gain. The FEC Code Gain can be used either to increase the span length, or to increase the channel capacity. The first submarine cable deployments at 2.5Gbit/s per lambda channels were done without FEC. The deployments of 10 Gbit/s systems needed 6 dB extra margins and they were found directly through the Reed Solomon FEC scheme. Then the submarine cables were again the pioneers of the developments of new more powerful codes. After the G709 Reed Solomon FEC, the FEC schemes became more complex than the first Reed

Figure 4: Laboratory demonstration of soft decision FEC ay 100Gbit/s

Solomon implementation thanks to the progress of integrated electronics. Progresses of the FEC gain were obtained by concatenation of two smaller overhead FEC codes. Then the Coding Gain was again slightly improved by iteration of the decoding [Reference 6]. An increase of the NCG from 5.8dB to 8.3dB was progressively achieved with the same 7% overhead with these super-FEC, and became the reference for 10Gbit/s channels. Each system supplier developed its own FEC code ASIC, and in addition some components suppliers (ie Intel, or AMCC) developed their commercial device available on the market, so that many different FEC schemes flourished. ITU-T tried to normalize a super-FEC solution. The candidate schemes are all described in the ITU-T G975.1 normalization that is in fact everything but a normalized solution! These improved Coding Gains made possible the deployment of the first direct detection 40Gbit/s systems. One can notice that the first coherent detection systems were first based on these hard decision FEC.


Then the further progresses came through “soft decision”. In this

case the receiver does not decide between 0 and 1 but the received signal is digitalized over several bits and the decision is provided at the output of the FEC. Let us come back to the infancy of soft decision FEC: During 20 years, the search for powerful codes was leaded in Bell Labs in USA where Shannon founded the field of information theory. It was a big surprise in 1993, when independent researchers from French Britany discovered the “turbo codes” that permitted to approach the mythical Shannon limit by less than 0.5dB inspired by the turbo reinjection of engines (Reference 4). “Turbo codes” have brought an impressive breakthrough in FEC technology. The introduction of soft decision in optical systems was not straightforward. A remarkable laboratory demonstration was performed by Mitsubishi in 2003 (Reference 5). The demonstration was done at 10 Gbit/s with a 24% overhead and with a 3 bits soft decision LSI. But 10Gbit/s bit rate did not deserve soft decision complexity and no industrial deployment was done at that time. Mitsubishi reiterated the first demonstration of soft decision at 100 Gbit/s based on an impressive set-up where the FEC engine is implemented on FPGA (Figure 4). This photo illustrates also how

complex is a feasibility study of FEC without an integrated ASIC.


While the coherent systems were first deployed based on hard decision FEC, the field matured naturally by combining perfectly the coherent engine with soft decision FEC. The received signal in coherent systems need to be digitalized over several bits for the coherent processing for clock recovery, synchronization, dispersion compensation. The coherent processing and soft decision FEC are thus naturally combined inside a single Digital Signal Processor (DSP) ASIC. As in the case of 10Gbit/s FEC, the soft decision FEC codes have not been standardized and several system houses and component suppliers (Acacia, Clariphy and NEL) have developed their proprietary code with a Coding Gain NCG in the range of 12dB for up to 25% overhead that is within 1dB of the Shannon limit. Modern FEC have become the more complex ASIC ever designed. No proof of concept being possible without the full design of the chip while the development cost of each chip generation is exceeding 50 M$!

Thus, these costs must be shared through component suppliers distributing broadly their ASIC or optical modules integrating it. Alternatively, system suppliers share their development cost between different applications (i.e. terrestrial metro and long haul and submarine), and they can even share their development costs with through distribution of their FEC ASIC to their competitors as recently announced by Ciena. Figure 5 illustrates eight chips from the market, 5 being from system suppliers and 3 from component manufacturers.


Readers searching more background and a full coverage of the FEC topic dedicated to Submarine cables can find it in the reference book Reference 7, especially in the chapter 14 “Submarine Line Terminal” by Arnaud Leroy and Omar Ait Sab. The author is grateful to Omar Ait Sab for helpful support, Jean Luc Pamart for useful historical background and to Tamon Omura and Paul Gabla for photo archives.

Figure 5: the Coherent FEC ASICs from the market.

REFERENCES : CE. Shannon, A mathematical theory of communications. Bell Syst Tech J, 1948;27:379_423 (Part I), 623_656 (Part II). V.Lemaire, J.L.Pamart et al, Forward Error Correction Code at 591 Mbit/s in direct detection and heterodyne DPSK systems, Proceeding ECOC 1991

J.L. Pamart et al, Forward error correction in a 5Gbit/s 6400 km EDFA based system, Electronics Letters ( Volume: 30, Issue: 4, 17 Feb 1994 )

C. Berrou, A.Glavieux et al, Shannon limit error-correcting coding and decoding: Turbo-codes (1). In: Proc. ICC’93, vol. 2/3; 1993.p. 1064_1071. T.Mizuochi et al, Experimental Demonstration of Net Coding Gain of 10.1 dB using 12.4 Gb/s Block Turbo Code with 3-bit Soft Decision, Proceedings OFC 2003, PD21-1 O. AIT SAB et al, Concatenated forward error correction schemes for long-haul DWDM optical transmission. Proceedings of ECOC 1999, ThC2.4

Undersea Fiber Communication Systems, Edition 2, José Chesnoy ed., Elsevier/Academic Press ISBN: 978-0-12804269-4 (book)

José Chesnoy, PhD, is an independent expert in the field of submarine cable technology. After Ecole Polytechnique and a first 10 years academic career in the French CNRS, he joined Alcatel’s research organization in 1989, leading the advent of amplified submarine cables in the company. After several positions in R&D and sales, he became CTO of Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks until the end of 2014. He was member of several Suboptic Program Committees, then chaired the program committee for SubOptic 2004, and was nominated Bell Labs Fellow in 2010. José Chesnoy is the editor of the reference book “Undersea Fiber Communication Systems” (Elsevier/ Academic Press) having a new revised edition published end 2015.

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uly is always an interesting month for sales, there is both not a lot and a lot happening. This month we’re welcoming our 95th issue of the SubTel Forum magazine, that number still amazes me. This bi-monthly industry mouthpiece has positively exploded in both readership and scope since it was first published out of a bedroom office some 16 years ago. The same is true of this company. What began as a niche magazine has become the industry’s go-to source of free analysis and opinion. What an honor! In staying true to our readers, we have consistently reinvented ourselves to best meet your ever-growing expectations. This summer is no exception, we are hard at work developing the next big thing. With the supply industry becoming ever more blended, companies taking on new roles as owners have greater expectations, it’s come

time in our R&D cycle to reassess the way we collect and store data – specifically, the much-lauded Submarine Cable Database, which is source to so many of our publications. I am very pleased to announce that we are in the final stages of redesigning the very scope of the Database. Beginning with the Almanac, expect to see some very exciting new changes to the SubTel line-up, not the least of which is the sheer analytical capability of the STF Analytics products. In that spirit, we’re running a 25% discount on all new ads for the coming issue of the Almanac, set to release on 14 August. Purchase a space before 14 August for only $3,750, regularly $5,000. The space will run for 4 issues, one each quarter.

Loyally yours,

Kristian Nielsen Vice President

Kristian Nielsen literally grew up in the business since his first ‘romp’ on a BTM cableship in Southampton at age 5. He has been with Submarine Telecoms Forum for a little over 6 years; he is the originator of many products, such as the Submarine Cable Map, STF Today Live Video Stream, and the STF Cable Database. In 2013, Kristian was appointed Vice President and is now responsible for the vision, sales, and over-all direction and sales of SubTel Forum.

subma rine cable


Purchase a space before 14 August for only $3,750, regularly $5,000. The space will run for 4 issues, one each quarter.

Contact: Kristian Nielsen Tel: +1 (703) 444-0845

Conferences Submarine Networks World 25-27 September 2017 Singapore Website Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc. 21495 Ridgetop Circle, Suite 201 Sterling, Virginia 20166, USA ISSN No. 1948-3031 PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER: Wayne Nielsen VICE PRESIDENT: Kristian Nielsen


CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS: Nigel Bayliff, Kieran Clark, José Chesnoy, Tony Frisch, Brian Lavallée, Hunter Newby, Christopher Noyes, Stephen Scott Contributions are welcomed. Please forward to the Managing Editor at

Submarine Telecoms Forum magazine is published bimonthly by Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc., and is an independent commercial publication, serving as a freely accessible forum for professionals in industries connected with submarine optical fiber technologies and techniques. Submarine Telecoms Forum may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the permission of the publishers. Liability: while every care is taken in preparation of this publication, the publishers cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the information herein, or any errors which may occur in advertising or editorial content, or any consequence arising from any errors or omissions, and the editor reserves the right to edit any advertising or editorial material submitted for publication. Copyright © 2017 Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc.


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ur July issue issue is usually the most difficult one for me to fill every year. It seems like many of our authors are traveling during June, and don’t feel like writing about submarine cables while lounging on the beach, sipping iced tea and reading the latest Nick Cole novel. Generally, I have to beg and plead in order to fill the July issue with quality content, but this year was different! I sent out my usual request for articles and was absolutely FLOODED with confirmations. It was wonderful, and I think this issue is, per-

haps, the finest summer issue we’ve ever published. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to Submarine Telecoms Forum magazine over the past year (and years). We literally could not produce this magazine without you. I’d also like to thank everyone that meets our crazy deadlines and turns their articles in on time. Publishing is always a matter of deadlines, and those authors that deliver their articles on time are a blessing. You people are saints! We’re always looking for quality content in our magazine, and we

have an open submission policy. Do you have a story that you think would make a good feature in SubTel Forum? If so, please let me know. Some of my favorite articles over the years have come from random submissions. Kevin G. Summers is the Editor of Submarine Telecoms Forum and has been supporting the submarine fibre optic cable industry in various roles since 2007. Outside of the office, he is an author of fiction whose works include ISOLATION WARD 4, LEGENDARIUM, THE MAN WHO SHOT JOHN WILKES BOOTH, and THE BLEAK DECEMBER.

Submarine Telecoms Forum #95  

Submarine Telecoms Forum magazine is a free, bimonthly trade journal focused on the submarine cable industry. The magazine has seen continuo...

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