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elcome to Issue 94, our Subsea Capacity edition. I was recently invited to sit on a Board for a local non-profit, which specializes in economic empowerment. Truth be told, my next-door neighbor, the one on the other side of our bamboo, has been hounding me for a while. Carol created “Crossroads Jobs” about five years ago, in the middle of the worst of the last major downturn, offering individualized job search and placement services to unemployed and underemployed area residents who are not well served by conventional job banks and agencies. On a shoe string, she has created a much-needed public service for those most in need. I attended my first Board meeting a couple of weeks ago, which was a relaxed free-for-all mix of good intentions and smart business – an interesting blend of well-intentioned public policy advocates with commercially savvy

realists coupled with a variety of political persuasions – bound by a single bond of assisting those most needing help in finding a job. I live in the wealthiest county in America. We are fueled by Washington, DC to the east and the center of the internet universe borders the major running path that transects our county. From my home along the Potomac I am 30 minutes from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Yet in the wealthiest county in America I was surprised to learn that so many are still looking for basic work. My first task is to model the need requirement and benefit provided by the charity; in other words, what is the bang received for the buck spent? On my day job, I have noticed an increasing number of calls from people in our industry looking for work. Not specifically that they are without, but that they are looking to augment and increase what they have. What I don’t know is if

they are simply planning for the upcoming change of season, or if there is something more in play. I guess only time will tell. But in the meantime, we hope you enjoy our latest edition with again some excellent and eyeopening stories from our industry. Good reading,



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

Asia-Pacific Report........................................38 By Eric R. Handa

The Capacity Market In Africa..................16 The Impact Of OTT Players And The Evolving Connectivity Landscape By Mike Last

Advertiser’s Corner.......................................46 By Krisitan Nielsen

Global Capacity Outlook..............................10 By Kieran Clark

Submarine Cables, Security And The State..................................................22 By John Tibbles From The Conference Director.................31 By Christopher Noyes Going Deep:......................................................32 Working To Improve The Accuracy And Availability Of Global Baseline Bathymetry By Edward Saade 4

Back Reflection...............................................40 Cable Recovery And Relay: An Old Story By José Chesnoy

Coda.....................................................................49 By Kevin G. Summers


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

OFS.......................................................................12 SubOptic 2019.................................................15 Huawei Marine................................................36


Undersea Fiber Communication Systems............................44 WFN Strategies...............................................47


Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc.

2017 MEDIA KIT 5




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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This Week In Submarine Telecoms May 8-12

SEAX-1 To link Malaysia To Indonesia In Q1 2018

NEC Achieves 50Tb Over 10,000km Using C+L EDFA

TE SubCom Introduces New Cable Line Monitoring System Aqua Comms Announces New Additions to Leadership, Cable Project

Globe, BSCC Ink SEAUS Cable Deal In Guam Infinera, Canalink Test Infinite Capacity Engine

Spread Networks and Seaborn To Provide Brazil’s First Dedicated Ultra-Low Latency Route ATISA To Bring DoCoMo Pacific Services To CNMI

Cable Link Between Bangladesh, Myanmar Announced

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Report: Nokia Plans To Offload Its Undersea Cables Business, ASN Google Is Cuba’s First Foreign Internet Company

SEAIOCMA & PIOCMA Meet In Sri Lanka Building Begins For SEA-US

Construction of HK-G Cable System Begins WFN Strategies to Accomplish Hudson Bay Cable Study

This Week in Submarine Telecoms, April 1-7 Indigo Announced: Google Invests To Connect Australia to Asia Superloop acquires subsea company SubPartners

Hexatronic To Support 6 New Projects Seaborn Networks and Grupo Werthein Announce ARBR System

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This Week in Submarine Telecoms, March 25-31

Tasman Global Access Cable Completed

NTT Communications, NTTWEM and NTT FINANCE Finalize Outfitting of CableShip Marching In To SubOptic 2019

TE SubCom Sets Record For Transmission Capacity

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Repairs To AAG Delayed

SEA-US Lands In Mindanao

This Week in Submarine Telecoms, March 18-24

Commercial Submarine Systems Could Reduce Disaster Impact Nokia, Facebook Trial Spectral Efficiency

Vietnam Cable To Resume Operation This Weekend

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WFN Strategies Achieves ISO 9001 Certification

Teraco Raises R1.2B For Future Data Centers

This Week in Submarine Telecoms March 13-17 NxtVn is Planning a Data Center Park in Virginia Beach

New Industry Group Forms Multi-Source Agreement for Shortwave WDM Optical Standards to Operate over Duplex Multimode Fiber, Simplifying Data Center Upgrades Huawei, Ericsson, Alcatel Interested in Chile Fibre Tender

Flexenclosure to Deploy an eCentre Cable Landing Station in Palau – Second CLS Order in the Pacific Region in as many Weeks

MCT Submarine Cable Launch Promises Bright Future for Cambodian and Regional Telcos

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This Week in Submarine Telecoms March 6-10 Alaska Communications, Quintillion to bring broadband to rural Northwest Alaska communities

Global Marine Expands Its Fleet Lumos Networks Announces Continued Sales Pipeline Expansion Tied to Virginia Beach Undersea Cable Landing Site Retelit and BICS Open Up New Route to Europe for AAE-1 Cable Submarine Cable Company with New CEO

GBI Appoints Mohamed Saro as CCO Polynesian Leaders Agree to Extend Submarine Cable

This Week in Submarine Telecoms February 27-March 3


STF Analytics

For more information: stfanalytics.com


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.


Powered by the comprehensive and industry leading STF Submarine Cable Database





andwidth demand is projected to almost double for the foreseeable future, as has been the case for several years running. Data centers and cloud services providers continue to drive much of this demand, increasing their need for international infrastructure. These companies continue to grow at record paces, indicating this bandwidth demand will not decline any time soon. Industry dynamics have changed very little from a year ago, and trends observed previously have largely continued. As Over The Top (OTT) providers continue to expand their reach, the submarine fiber industry will have numerous opportunities for growth. Welcome to SubTel Forum’s annual Subsea Capacity issue. Every May, we aim to take the industry’s pulse by looking at the future of our section of the telecoms market. Specifically, how much cable owners are


Global System Capacity by Year 2012-2016 1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0



planning to add to the ever-growing pool of capacity and what technologies are being implemented. 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, Cable Map, Online




Cable Map and Industry Report find their roots. As new systems come into service and existing systems are upgraded, there is a continuing upward trend in global capacity to address the world’s demand for more telecommunications services. This is mostly due to an ever-increasing



Projected Global Capacity by Year 2016-2019

3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0



demand for low latency, high bandwidth international connections, and to the almost exponential increase in demand for mobile and cloud services observed over the last few years. These factors show little signs of slowing down, so there is a strong expectation that demand will continue to rise at this rapid pace in the coming years. Capacity increased by 24 percent in 2016, compared to an increase of only 13 percent in 2015. Despite only 5 systems entering



service in 2016, there was a much larger increase in capacity compared to a year ago. With easy and cheap access to 100G wavelength upgrades, this comes as little surprise. New systems are also making use of increasing numbers of wavelengths crammed on to a single fiber pair. Capacity that needed 6 or more fiber pairs in the past, can now be achieved with only 2 or 3 pairs. This allows cable owners to provide more capacity than ever, while keeping fiber manufacturing costs down.

Currently, the EMEA region has the largest share of global capacity at 35 percent. The AustralAsia and Transatlantic regions share the next most at 17 percent a piece, while the Americas and Indian Ocean PanEast Asian regions each account for 12 percent of global capacity. The Transpacific region has been thoroughly outpaced, seeing a single new system since 2010 and only moderate upgrade activity. With the EMEA region being the largest in the world – the Mediterranean Sea in particular being host to several large systems connecting Europe to Africa and Asia – this explains why more than a third of all global capacity is found in this region. While the AustralAsia and Transatlantic regions have observed a high level of new system and upgrade activity, they have quite a way to go to catch up with EMEA in total capacity. With more and more systems being announced, the STF Analytics research team takes note of each region the new systems will touch. Developing markets in Southeast Asia

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continue to have a strong desire for additional low latency, high capacity connections to the global telecommunications network. When coupled with a strong desire for route redundancy to places like Japan and China, and the explosion of new data centers in the region, it is clear the flurry of activity observed recently in and around the Pacific Ocean will continue. The data collected strongly supports this, and shows that 43 percent of all planned capacity for the next three years will be in the AustralAsia and Transpacific regions. With the Transatlantic and Americas regions planning for new systems alongside continued upgrades to existing ones, expect these two regions to account for another 45 percent of planned capacity for the next three years. Continued improvements to wavelength division multiplexing, coupled with 100G wavelength technology becoming the de facto standard, new systems can provide ever increasing amounts of bandwidth over the same amount of fiber. In some cases, a single planned


Current Capacity by Region Transpacific 7%

Transatlantic 17%

Americas 12%

Indian Ocean PanEast Asian 12%

AustralAsia 17%

EMEA 35%

system is projected to nearly double the entire capacity of a region. When combined with upgrades to existing systems, global capacity is expected to skyrocket over the next three years. As new wavelength technologies like 150G and 200G start seeing commercial implementation and with a potential for 400G on the horizon, this capacity explosion should continue well beyond the next couple years. Based on reported data, global capacity is estimated to increase

71.5 percent by 2018. Multiple systems slated for the next two years will have design capacities of more than 60 terabits per second, with many others boasting bandwidth between 20 and 50 terabits per second. Looking ahead even further, 2019 already shows another solid increase in global capacity even with only a handful of systems announced so far. All systems currently planned are being designed with at least 100G technology in mind, so expect an even more drastic in-

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Systems CIF 2017-2019

No 53%

crease as new wavelength technologies begin to see widespread commercial use. While these projections seem promising, it is important to take a step back and assess how likely it is that all this planned capacity will enter service. There are 49 systems planned globally through 2019 and 47 percent have achieved the important Contract in Force (CIF) milestone. This is the real determination on whether a system will ever see the light of day, so the numbers for future systems look promising. This time last year 45 percent of planned systems for the following three years were CIF, indicating the overall market climate has remained stable. The submarine telecoms industry can expect a healthy amount of

Yes 47%

growth and activity for the near future as it works to keep up with the explosive increase in bandwidth demand. The continued shift towards OTT providers driving demand for international telecommunications services has provided new and different opportunities compared to years past, and has allowed for stability in an industry recently plagued by a high degree of uncertainty.

Planned Capacity by Region 2017-2019 Transatlantic 23%

Indian Ocean PanEast Asian 5%

Transpacific 22%


AustralAsia 21%


Americas 22%

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.










holesale carriers serving Africa are seeing a tide of potential new customers as the world’s leading Over The Top (OTT) players and Content Providers seek out ways to maximise revenue opportunities from new customers and markets in Africa.


Africa is the second largest and most populous continent on the planet, home to approximately one and a quarter billion people. According to the latest figures from Internet World Stats1, in March 2017 just 27% (circa 346 million people) of Africa’s population used the internet - significantly less than the 1 Internet World Stats, Africa Stats, 2017

54% internet penetration figure for the Rest of the World. Recent research2 by telecoms industry consulting firm Analysys Mason suggests that sub-Saharan Africa’s telecoms market could be worth US$51 billion by 2021. Meanwhile UNICEF3 predicts that by 2050, 25% of all the people in the world and 40% of the world’s youth will be African. The figures above demonstrate just how dynamic and vibrant Africa is; particularly given that it started so late with the internet compared with the rest of the world. These characteristics suggest a continent with huge potential and rich with opportunities for carriers, OTTs, Content Providers and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). 2 Analysys Mason, October 2016. Sub-Saharan Africa telecoms market: trends and forecasts 2016–2021 3 UNICEF, August 2014. Generation 2030/Africa Report


The connectivity landscape in Africa has been transformed by the advent of affordable high-speed connectivity and a corresponding explosion in popularity of bandwidth-hungry applications such as social networking, video and music streaming, and online gaming. Until very recently wholesale requirements were typically for STM1s (155Mbps) of international capacity; now it is not unusual to see requirements for multiple 10Gbps wavelengths and more. This step change in capacity demand is largely being driven by global OTT players and content providers such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Netflix, who traditionally run their data-intensive applications over other organizations’ networks. Migrating their content from (typically) Europe or Asia into 17


local markets in Africa brings significant performance improvements which offer the promise of customer acquisition and improved revenue streams. The purchase of their own international bandwidth over which to move this content, together with the data center space within which to host it, are key elements in the strategy. Only the biggest capacity vendors - those having invested heavily in African submarine and terrestrial infrastructure – have sufficient scale to be able to meet the current demands for ultra-high capacity into specific markets (initially South Africa) and have the necessary reach to seamlessly support expansion into further markets in the fullness of time.



In order to meet Africa’s growing bandwidth demands, submarine cable system operators are introducing the latest wavelength technology to boost capacity availability. This will not only allow incremental capacity to be delivered more cost-effectively, but also promises to boost design capacity even further in the coming years with further developments in optical technologies. For now, Africa’s newer submarine cables are operating at low levels of utilization, and expectation is that capacity will be significantly boosted by optical technology evolution. Taking a closer look at the current utilisation of the EASSy cable reveals that only just over 5% (half a Tbps.) of its current 10 Tbps design capacity has been lit, and

only 50% of that - a mere 2.5% of the total current design capacity – is in use. Clearly the existing submarine cable systems are capable of absorbing further significant increases in traffic, whilst the relatively (compared to building new submarine cable systems) low cost of upgrading them will ensure future competitiveness. And with two major cable systems running the length of Africa’s coastlines - WACS and SAT3 on the West coast and EASSy and Seacom on the East, there is also sufficient diversity to provide protection against all but the most extreme cable cut situations. There is potentially scope for new cables to fill specific gaps in the existing infrastructure. The new 20,000 km Southeast-Middle East-Western Europe 5 (SEA-MEWE 5) submarine cable system has




recently been activated connecting 17 countries across the Middle East, Asia, North Africa and Europe, thereby substantially improving data transmission and providing extra resiliency. SEA-ME-WE 5 utilises advanced 100 Gbps technology, and has a design capacity of 24 Tbps. AAE-1 will also go live in 2017, offering another alternative route between Asia and Europe.


The connectivity needs and expectations of wholesale industry and end-users in Africa have also 20

changed markedly in recent years, during which time the leading capacity wholesalers have continually refined their offerings to match market demands. At the outset of African submarine connectivity, carriers only wanted point-to-point international capacity. This evolved in time to include traffic protection, through bandwidth configured on multiple cable systems. To meet the increased demand for international connectivity and more diversity, multiple new submarine cable systems were construct-

ed and the number of cables serving sub-Saharan Africa grew from just two in early 2009 to 11 by 2016. This triggered greater investment in building and enhancing terrestrial backbones out from the landing stations, to bring increasingly diverse access to international connectivity inland. Even now requirements continue to evolve, with carriers and ISPs increasingly seeking assistance in delivering the more complex network solutions being demanded by customers, and into a wider range of locations.



Capacity wholesaler WIOCC’s strategy of ongoing investment in submarine and terrestrial network infrastructure – it has invested more than $250million into its network – has put the Africa’s carriers’ carrier at the heart of the continent’s evolving connectivity landscape, enabling it to meet the diverse and dynamic demands of the full range of wholesale customers wanting to do business in Africa – including national and international carriers and ISPs, OTTs and content providers. As well as investing in technology upgrades to existing cable systems, WIOCC is also making investments in local loop, Points of Presence (PoPs) and terrestrial backhaul networks. In each case, these are fully integrated into its existing infrastructure, which includes a wide-ranging shareholder-owned network serving numerous countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Enhancements such as these enable WIOCC to continually refine its wholesale proposition to

customers, giving it the ability to deliver even more cost-effective, end-to-end services extending to local PoPs and, through the deployment of metropolitan area networks (MANs), direct to the premises of its customers’ customers.


In 2016 WIOCC built the Johannesburg MAN, which has a reach extending to 95 business parks and numerous shopping malls across the key business districts of Johannesburg and Pretoria. The Johannesburg MAN is the largest Metro network in Africa, offering cost-effective, direct access to more than 2,000 business premises over a redundant network. It also allows the Company to not only extend its IP Transit and Ethernet connectivity services to the premises of smaller Internet Service Providers, but also to offer Metro services that interconnect premises across Johannesburg. WIOCC is actively exploring further investments in backhaul and Metro infrastructure elsewhere in Africa.


To effectively support the growth plans of organisations –including OTTs and Content Providers - looking to broaden their reach into new territories in Africa, the continent’s capacity wholesalers must continue to deliver investments into the right network infrastructure – ensuring sufficient scale to serve existing locations and extending reach to the key markets customers want to target. Local PoPs integrated into diverse regional and cross-border networks play a key part in offering the cost-effective, scalable and resilient footprint that such organisations can use to cost-effectively deliver the high-performance, revenue-generating services that will attract new customers in Africa’s many and varied markets. Mike Last is Chief Marketing Officer and VP, Marketing & International Business Development at Africa’s carriers’ carrier WIOCC. 21





a tired telegraphist was coming to the end of a busy nightshift, against the lightening sky, he saw the outline of a ship, a warship, not uncommon as Royal Navy vessels often passed close by, but this vessel looked a little different and so he picked up his binoculars. The long time ago was dawn on November 9th, 1915 and the far far away was Direction Island in the Cocos /Keeling Group a very remote outpost of the British Empire notable only for its cable and radio relay communications station linking Britain with its far eastern colonies. The ship did look different, and for a reason, it didn’t belong to the Royal Navy but flew the ensign of the German High Seas fleet. It was the cruiser ‘Emden’ and it was there for

a reason, to destroy the cable station and disrupt Britain’s vital wartime communications with its farflung Empire. Today we are familiar from the live on TV wars that telecommunications facilities are the first targets of an attack and indeed Britain had virtually opened WW1 in August 1914 by destroying the German submarine cables to the USA, leaving just one intact. One the British knew they could intercept communications from, something that lead to the Zimmerman telegram and the entry of the USA into WW1.


Much as todays optical fibre systems telegraph cables grew from a small base, across the Channel and

the Atlantic to span the globe. They followed the great trade routes and facilitated and hastened trade as for the first time ever the message could outrun the messenger. Of course, these developments attracted the interest of governments who saw them not only as vital to the development of trade and the linking of empires and allies but also for military and diplomatic use and a realisation dawned that they were strategic assets and above all compared to the fledging radio systems they were secure means of communication. As cables spread out from Europe and the United States with nation states direct support and approval, the ‘Imperial ‘network, the forerunner of Cable and Wireless, the various chosen instruments of the United States, AT&T, Western Union etc., France Cable and KDD competed for the lucrative telegram trade. They established outposts on oceanic islands to repeat the messages when end to end service was not possible and they established them where they had colonies or dependencies and often a form of military presence. Cables, Security and the State had become very much intertwined though common interest and common needs. But this article is not, as might be inferred from the title about the Zimmerman telegram , code breaking ,the CIA, GCHQ and the Snowden revelations , it is about the wider 23


interest a State can and perhaps should have in these vital, but in a way, fragile links that knot our modern world together. Even more than a century ago when they provided the miracle that a Lancashire cotton merchant could get a dockside price from his agent in Savannah , Georgia just an hour or so after asking the question, not a month to six weeks leaving him to judge or guess what might have happened in the interim. With these networks in place the world had a secure global communications network, it wasn’t especially integrated and it faced a real competitive threat from wireless, or radio if you prefer. In some instances, the two systems co-existed; in the UK, the pre-eminent maritime nation at the time, with probably the biggest cable network, the government realised that if the better economics of HF put cables out of business their secure global


network would no longer exist. So, they brought the two together with an act of parliament combining ‘cable and wireless communications ‘ into Cable and Wireless Ltd in a dramatic demonstration of the state realising the vital importance of the cable network and intervening to protect it. After World War one and for the next twenty years’ things didn’t change that much, radio technology continued to improve but the two great political development of that era, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia made little impact on or world of cables because between the two of them they have very little sea. What they do have is mostly in solid form or passes close to potential enemy land. Imperial Japan was still to move away from Korea and Northern China. The sea and the sea lanes were under the control of the maritime nations UK, USA and France

and so the cable world, still important for security, but less so for commerce stagnated until global events and the advance of science brought them back into focus twenty-five years later as World War 2 ended and the Cold War was born.


Wars spur technological advance even more than money and one of the developments of WW2 was the potential to use so called ‘coaxial cables to carry radio frequency signals across long distances, indeed if amplifiers (repeaters) were used they would work over very long, oceanic distances. They were analogue of course and amplified noise as well as signals on their journey but they made voice communication far more reliable than HF radio with its quaint variations at dawn and dusk and

during sunspot activity etc. etc. perhaps even more importantly no one knew better than the British and Americans the value of secure communications. The then top secret story of Enigma winning the battle of the Atlantic among many other critical interventions and the American success breaking the Japanese naval code had helped win WW2 for the Allies and the new coaxial cable technology provided a way for them and their allies to keep their secrets away from the potential enemies in the East. And this along with demand for improved communications for commerce and industry spawned the TAT transatlantic and TPC transpacific cables, indeed the British, to keep their former Empire (now rebranded ‘Commonwealth’) together, along with its leading partners sponsored the COMPAC and SEACOM cables linking the Commonwealth countries in Asia and Australia together and then across the mighty Pacific to Canada and onwards to the UK. A big big investment to produce a mere 80 voice channels each of which could carry some 30 telegraph (50 Bps) speed circuits if required. But these systems laid the foundations for what was to follow and riding on these systems were secure military communications. These linked USA and Canada and their European NATO allies and the US mainland with the vital Pacific Navy Base at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii and the power projection B52 Bombers s on Guam just a few hours from Vietnam or China. An example of a more strategic and planned role cables played in the cold war is the British dependent territory of Bermuda, In the 1960s a charmingly quaint colonial holiday destination for increasingly affluent Americans; ( it was out of the reach of all but the very richest Brits) Among the white roofed


house with their balconies, pastel coloured walls and shutters the very observant traveling on one of the three ‘main’ roads might have noticed , but it was not easy to see, a very contrasting building. This slab sided dark grey concrete blockhouse was the landing station for one of the very first coaxial submarine systems, from Manahawkin NJ to Bermuda, built in 1962. Why did a tiny island jump the queue for this new communications marvel that linked only two or three countries in the whole world and why did this building look so different

from pretty much every other on the island. Well ten miles down the road was Bermuda airport, known officially as the United States Naval Air Station Bermuda and it was at the heart of a secret undersea cable network running from the Bahamas north via Bermuda towards Newfoundland and out into the Atlantic. This was called SOSUS and it didn’t carry messages or phone calls, it connected a huge series of undersea listening devices that monitored the sounds made by Russian submarines. Effectively a giant trip wire that detected anything coming with25


in 500 miles or more of the Eastern Seaboard. These signals had to get back to the US naval HQ in Norfolk Virginia and the Pentagon and guess how they did that. There were other similar systems in the Pacific but I spent a lot of my working life in Bermuda and next door to that building with tis 6 feet thick walls made of highway grade concrete. Nuclear blast proof and fitted with a full complement anti -radiation and atmospheric conditioning systems it was a chilling reminder of what might have been. In fact, as the cold war moved on, a potentially even more chilling function for the cable came to light as the US Navy based three EC 130 aircraft from its secretive VQ4 squadron at the airbase. One was always airborne since it provided the back-up function to send the launch codes to US nuclear missile submarines via ELF radio in the event a surprise attack crippled Washington. In both applications, the all but invisible (and in this case, all but indestructible) subsea system carried vital secret messages of their time. There was peaceful benefit to this too as the Bermuda-USA system gave the island far better communications than other offshore tax havens and helped the island develop its very large financial services industry. Supported by a follow on system in the Commonwealth mould from Bermuda to Canada traffic growth and security underpinned that and Bermuda’s government joined the ranks of those who realised subsea cables are a very very valuable asset for commercial reasons as well as military ones. During the cold war the same lack of ocean access hampered any Russian efforts to secure their long-distance communications and while, as WW1 had demonstrated cables can be cut, for the most part they are way below the depths where a submarine can operate 26

and of course they can be guarded by countries with large navies, Of course in the Cold War there was the money and will for an ingenious effort to tap subsea coax cables. The best known of which was the ‘Ivy Bells’ project using modified USN submarines and Navy divers to attach passive taps to a Russian cable in the Sea of Okotsk. Risky business to say the least and only practical because of the shallow waters the cable transited.

had to be solved as those systems hopped and skipped their way eastwards from Europe through some of the trickier areas of the world with dozens of landings and spurs . Age old enmities and more recent conflicts meant any notion of sharing capacity or a network configuration based on efficient engineering came a poor second to the real-politic of the day.


While I was working in, or as the locals would say ‘on’ Bermuda, along came the subsea fibre optic cable and even the very earliest variants of this technology put the coaxial systems, and more importantly the then dominant satellite based Intelsat network instantly in the shade in terms of capacity and versatility in carrying high speed data. Unsurprisingly the usual suspects were key nodes on the early fibre network. The USA, Japan, UK, France and of course Bermuda and Hawaii were all there. However, with the increasing convergence (a word of its time) between IT and telecoms all major countries with a coastline demanded their state owned or legacy carriers bring them this new marvel and so projects like FLAG and SMW 3 the latter being the ultimate consortium and ‘political’ cable were planned. Indeed, these two systems illustrate very well the reason why some states take such an interest in cables. It is of course partly to stimulate modern commerce and keep up with its demands for communication but some of these countries exercised considerable political muscle to ensure they got a landing and not their neighbour or that another country who they didn’t especially like was excluded from joining the main system. The sometimes brash and often complex politics behind this all

This of course is just an extension of human nature, for those who remember party line telephones; the initial delight over having a phone waned when it seemed your neighbour was always using it when you wanted to and became a positive concern when you realised they could hear you and you them.

And so, demands came from Governments that we cannot share a cable or fibre pair with country X or we do not want to be dependent on country Y. Eventually, with patience and judicial use of the new ‘branching units’ to provide spurs from the main system both those cables got built and formed a template for many more.

posts of established powers in cable networks. In spite of occasional political efforts to keep them on the network as interconnection points but bigger nations often objected to these remnants of colonial days. What we have seen in their stead is the rise of cable hubs where countries have used regulatory policies and complicit legacy carriers to attract cables and making significant earnings from interconnection or onward transit sometimes creating a sort of entrepot/freeport in reverse taking advantage of their geographic locations to get the systems to land and then charging for the ‘handling’ . By the middle of the first decade of the new century, in spite of the ‘dotcom bust’ cables went everywhere including most of the coastal countries of Africa. Although in many places the lack of terrestrial infrastructure limited their value, landing a cable at least showed the government was trying to bring ‘faster, cheaper, broadband which today is almost as a basic human right.


By end of the 1990s private and consortium systems developed further taking these complications in their stride and more systems meant more diversity and more trust in the networks. On the other hand political changes and technological ones meant it was harder and harder to include the island out-

In the middle of the second decade though the cable world has changed again. The titans of the past have merged or left the scene or are just no longer interested in subsea cables as a critical investment as they seek to re-invent themselves against a tidal wave of new challenges. This new world order is somewhat split on geographical rather than political lines. In the east where legacy carriers still play a major part in determining what cables land in their countries with overt or covert backing from their government. In the west, the major players withdrew and after a stuttering start with investments in single fibre pairs the digital giants lead by Google now determine the course of new cable developments in much of the rest of the world.


Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and possibly Equinix are the names behind, if not always on, developments, not as customers now but sponsors. These companies have two things in common. They are all American and secondly, they do not have the same relationship with the US government as the likes of ATT and Verizon did. AT&T and Bell Labs were major parties in secret projects like the SOSUS system referred to above. The new order are truly global with employees from all over the world and with policies on data access and privacy that at times brings them into conflict with Governments over matters like cooperation on data sharing, security and enormous amounts of potential taxation revenues. Storage, searching and data analysis is at the heart of the new entities and their server farms and data centres are, the 21st century equivalents of the safe and natural harbours of the 19th century and the Heathrow and Kennedy airports with their global reach of the last. They are of just as much importance to the size and shape of future economies and so states who are disinterested will find themselves in many cases simply by passed, losing out to neighbours or failing to get the full economic benefits of the chosen locations. In many cases only Governments can provide a broad spectrum of incentives in the form of local infrastructure and power , workforce skills and taxation incentives to locate these new global nodes. For smaller countries to be successful also means have a direct interest in ensuring the right subsea cable network is in place. This needs government support because the capacity of even small systems today is far more than a countries current needs and therefore difficult to justify with private investment alone 27


Subsea cables have always followed trade, from the telegraph days of cotton traders getting prices hours not weeks old, to global corporations and dispersed families being able to call internationally just by dialling, to airline operations and financial trading taking place globally the telecoms paths followed the movement of goods and people. The data or traffic they carried mirrored the routes of the shipping lanes of commerce and migration. But in today’s digital world it is very often the case that it is the signals or bits if you prefer that are the commerce themselves and that is a quantum change from all past networks , the message has its own value , it doesn’t just provide information about something to be traded or moved, it is itself the object of the transaction. And, because it now has a value of its own it needs protection like never and that means du-


plicate, triplicate or even more exact copies zapped instantaneously to multiple nodes around a network multiplying the initial content many times over in different datacentres in rather the same way a virus replicates itself. But that’s not a word people like in these industries so we call that rather ethereal network of linked storage facilities a Cloud.. More clouds mean more cables.


I have always been on the carrier or customer side of things and so I must not forget the vital contributions of those who make and install systems. Never an easy business consolidation has reduced the number of oceanic cable suppliers to four, Nokia-Alcatel, TE-Subcom, NEC and Huawei Marine, the latter being a relatively new entrant

compared to the others who, under different names have been around since the cold war days. The latter one is perhaps the most extreme example of state involvement in this sector as part of a strategic plan since Huawei is effectively a stateowned enterprise. The others have al retained close links with Governments although the acquisition of ASN by Nokia while keeping manufacturing capability in the EU (in France and the UK) the ownership is now Finnish. The links between Government and the cable supplier in USA and the EU are at least one stage removed from the days of AT&T ownership in the USA and the Franco-British enterprises that ultimately combined into ASN but it is hard to imagine the US or EU governments allowing sale of these entities to anyone outside their own sphere and certainly not to anyone outside of ‘the West’

Indeed, it is hard to see any change in this oligopoly which is globally balanced and provides a reasonable degree of competition even if US and EU politics mean it is highly unlikely Huawei could acquire a competitor or even be allowed to build a system that landed in the USA. In this area, at least it seems Governments are taking a pretty firm view that making subsea fibre optic cables is a strategic capability and not to be bought and sold under normal market conditions. Ina similar vein one can also look at the evolution of cable landings, from Bermuda’s bomb shelter to the underground TAT station at Tuckerton NJ and the location of landings in military restricted areas. The fibre optic era saw the environment not the military dictate where cables landed and what sort of facility they landed in. Of course, no one would readily give up the secure bunkers but by the 1990s the existence and habit of rare snails and architectural aesthetics meant that cable stations had to comply with the rules of the environment and planning/zoning considerations like fake farmhouses facades or anonymous industrial units, stealthy perhaps but soft targets. Although, as far as I am aware there have been very few direct and deliberate attacks on cable landing stations but guerrilla fighters in the Philippines did damage a domestic cable, overlooking the intercontinental one in the same location, when they took the landing station staff hostage some 10 years or so ago. As time moved on the concept of the landing station as a significant facility has changed with transmission technology allowing the actual system termination to be many miles inland close to a major communications node or preferably a data centre leaving only small easily protected sea/land interface points close to the beach landing . Mind

you the growing popularity of Virginia Beach as a US east coast landing is certainly not hindered by its proximity to the huge nearby navy base with control over the maritime approaches.) In fact, during the last decade much government interest in cables has shifted from protecting fishing grounds and ‘green’ issues to adopting a more realistic environmental impact assessment in favour of supporting degrees of protection. These have been mostly brought about by persistent patient low profile work by organisations like the ICPC organisation to which most cable owners belong and on a more political level the ROGUCCI project sponsored by the American IEEE.


In the last year or so some new dimensions have entered the equation, perhaps prompted by seminal political events and their consequences. Could a new mini or cyber cold war develop in response to changes in the west. Could the key ocean become the Arctic an area seen by strategists as a new economic battleground and indeed an area where Russia is very much the dominant party in terms of experice and facilities and might well influence any ideas of developing cables under the


ice cap or cables servicing oil exploration sites in the far north. America has shifted from a slightly withdrawn liberal democratic stance to a strident and more intrusive approach to the world’s problems. According to some sources 80% of the worlds international internet traffic touches the United States at some point but at the same time there is a strong motivation for many countries to ensure their content never goes anywhere near the USA unless that’s where it is destined. This might also apply to US surrogates in the Five Eyes scheme revealed by Snowden et al. But with the US generating so much content and hosting so much messaging economics often point to a path that includes the USA at some point. Only governments can bridge that funding gap in the name of security as evidenced by the EU participation in a new Europe South America cable Closer to (my) home how long will the EU accept the idea that all its new north Atlantic cables are American owned and by corporations who see themselves as unbeholden to any one national government. Indeed, how long can those companies sustain that position in a world of cybercrime, state sponsored cyber-attacks and use of the internet and communications networks for terrorist activity. Would the EU en-



courage operators to use concepts like long term cable entrepreneur Neil Tagares, ‘Brexit’ cable to avoid a UK which might be seen as unreliable or even somewhat hostile to its European friends and neighbours. The old party line model and the unwelcome high profile of the UKs GCHQ organisation may well suggest to some that avoiding the UK is worth the extra investment. In the ever-busy Asia/Pacific cable space the big legacy carriers either prompted by their governments or for their own commercial reasons have retained almost complete control of systems termination in their countries by continuing to invest in new project. To me this seems a practical way forward but it is in stark contrast to the EU hands off approach but perhaps there is a greater if not always visible relationship between government and operators in Asia along the same lines as US and European governments once had with their monopoly ‘telcos’ IN CONCLUSION, FOR NOW… It has been long time since that attack on the cable station in the Indian Ocean I started this story with, and the cables have moved from carrying from bits per second to terabits per second today. As I have pointed out, today the content , be 30

quietly pleased to think that cables are as important now as they were then. Personally, I think there are compelling arguments for Governments to become more aware and at times involved with developments of the subsea world and not just for reasons of security. Just because they are out of sight they should never be out of mind.

it UHD video, on -line booking engines or just the charming everyday trivia and tribulations of life are in themselves items of value . Cables remain important to the State and the current and future prosperity of its citizens. Some nations favoured by geography and with vision can, however remote they may seem become vital nodes on the ever growing global ‘information highway’ to use a phrase that seems oddly dated. Equally the State has to consider the safety and security of its citizens in a seemingly ever more dangerous world, it needs to keep some communications secure while balancing that against the need for intelligence and early warning about those who would seek to harm us all. In an extreme case perhaps a cyber cold war may develop and it may be unwelcome but its infinitely preferable to a nuclear one and mutually assured awareness might well replace mutually assured destruction. So, what would the bleary eyed telegraphist think of all of this , if he could even imagine where his work and his efforts would one day lead , would he even for a moment have thought that 100 years on he could pull a small plastic and glass device from his pocket -take moving pictures of the ship and send them instantly to every corner of the world. If he could , he would probably be

John Tibbles has spent over 30 years managing globally based investments in cable systems for some of the worlds major subsea network operators and owners involving strategic planning, partnerships and consortia management , buying and selling in the wholesale space and managing supplier relationships. He has been actively involved as a panelist, presenter and member of many industry bodies including SubOptic, PTC, ICPC as well as contributing to media articles on the industry. Now retired from daily involvement he owns JTIC consulting (www.consultjtic.com) providing consulting services for the submarine cable sector and the broader international carrier business





reetings from the desk of STF Events. Things are progressing well for a great SubOptic2019. Yes, it is still is a ways off, but it will be here before you know it. I was in New Orleans in the middle of April and had some wonderful meetings with the hotel and New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, and both are extremely excited to be hosting SubOptic2019. The hotel is in the final phases of a multi-million-dollar renovation, which will be completed in early 2018 and will complete its total makeover. The hotel renovation will be in line with Marriott’s upgraded, higher standards, including a new, sleek modern look and feel. New Orleans welcomed a record-breaking 10.45 million visitors in 2016, a 6.9% increase over 2015 and a new record for New Orleans tourism. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport announced record passenger numbers of 11 million passengers served in 2016, representing a 4.4% increase over 2015 and a new all-time record.

Keeping with renovations, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is looking good with their expansion to becoming an important international destination, including the construction of a new $1 billion international terminal. With the recent start of BA’s daily non-stop service from London added to daily non-stop service from Frankfurt, the list of non-stop international flights to New Orleans will continue to grow before SubOptic2019. I am also excited to be in Chicago for the inaugural meeting of the SubOptic Association this month and to personally offer attending members an early view of sponsorship and exhibit booth space, which won’t go on “official” sale until 1 August. This is an exciting opportunity for both members and SubOptic2019, as this means that we are moving forward to having another outstanding conference exclusively for the submarine telecommunications cable industry.

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.







his is an exciting time to be involved in the ocean mapping and marine survey industry. Not only is there a growing movement to produce a comprehensive map of the world’s oceans, but there is also a push to dramatically increase the speed, resolution, and affordability of ‘deepwater’ bathymetric data collection and delivery. Both developments promise substantial efficiencies to submarine cable projects in the coming years. Despite covering 70 percent of the earth’s surface, only 10-12 percent of the world’s oceans have been mapped using modern survey techniques. This troubling lack of data is an issue the submarine cable industry knows well, as accurate seabed topography is fundamental to successful system planning, design, installation, and maintenance.

Take the desktop study, for starters. One of the earliest project phases, these exercises typically rely on ‘best available’ data to select the most technically viable and cost-effective project routes, avoiding hazardous features such as geologic faults, canyons, and seamounts. In many cases, best available data are sparse single beam soundings and 10-kilometer resolution bathymetry derived from satellite altimetry data, the absolute accuracy of which are highly questionable. Mapping errors in this phase can significantly impact project timelines, especially if selected corridors are later found to contain seabed features that require appreciable re-routing. That’s the situation today. Now imagine a future where, anywhere in the world, the best available data source is a 100-meter resolu-


tion map with meter-level accuracy. Guesswork removed, these data would help project owners develop cable routing and protection plans that streamline the permitting process, minimize user conflicts, and avoid otherwise undetectable geohazards. Sound like a faraway dream? It’s not. In fact, there is an international team of professionals working to make this level of accurate, global baseline bathymetry a reality by the year 2030.


In June 2016, a group of more than 150 scientists, academics, senior government officials, and business leaders—including representation from the submarine cable industry—met in Monaco to con-

Multibeam image depicting an outcrop of boulder clay and rock.



Team Arggonauts of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE will use a swarm of 12 seaborne drones during Round 1 of the deepwater mapping competition. Courtesy, Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.

vene the Forum for Future Ocean Floor Mapping. This two-day event was facilitated by the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) organization to set a course for accurately mapping the world’s oceans. The Forum comprised a series of keynote presentations, panel discussions, and breakout sessions. At its close, participants enthusiastically endorsed the objectives of a bold new initiative to compile high resolution, openly available global bathymetry by the year 2030. The GEBCO-led program would include the entire world’s oceans from the coastline to the deepest trenches, leaving no features smaller than 100 meters horizontal unmapped. This is no doubt a massive undertaking. But as Dr. Larry Mayer, Director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire stated in the 34

GEBCO-produced video, “Beneath the Surface: Exploring Our Global Seafloor,” the biggest challenge is not the size of the data gap, but the fiscal will to close it: Using current technology, it will cost about $3 billion to map the world’s oceans. The $3 billion is for the deepwater, but that does represent about 94% of the ocean. It sounds like a lot of money, but we do that many times over every time we fly a mission to Mars. It costs about $3 billion. And we have maps of Mars that are far better than the maps of this planet. So, we are willing to do that for Mars, and I think that is wonderful. I take nothing away from that. But why are we not willing to spend that on our own planet? Thankfully, our collective will to invest in accurate ocean mapping is steadily growing, as evidenced by the Forum’s success and follow-on

activities. Dr. Martin Jakobsson, vice chairman of the GEBCO Guiding Committee, noted in the January 2017 issue of “Hydro International” that the organization is currently working with other interested parties to move forward the objectives of this global seabed mapping initiative. Once a plan is formalized, government agencies, academic and research institutions, and private sector companies can begin making more meaningful contributions to this effort.


Complementing the goals of GEBCO’s global mapping initiative is the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE. This global, three-year competition incentivizes the development of rap-

id, unmanned, and high resolution ocean mapping technologies with the potential to completely revolutionize deepwater ocean mapping. If successful, acquisition systems resulting from the XPRIZE competition could measurably improve the timelines and costs associated with detailed marine route surveys, which are necessary for cable systems design and engineering. Current bathymetric surveying techniques involve the use of multibeam echo sounder sensors to scan the seafloor bottom, providing bathymetry, backscatter, and water column data for information about ocean depth, seafloor characterization, and oceanographic properties, among other applications. For deepwater surveys, sensors are typically deployed either by hull-mount or by an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) operating from a mother ship.

These techniques represent tremendous gains compared to previous single-beam sonar techniques, which were state-of-the-art just forty years ago. They remain, however, a time- and resource-intensive task, given the need to mobilize large vessels to the project site and to crew round-the-clock teams to run the surveys. The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition aims to eliminate these inefficiencies. In February of this year, Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE announced 21 teams who have advanced to Round 1 of the competition. These teams will deploy their unmanned inventions from shore to operate at 2,000 meters’ ocean depth over a yet undisclosed project site. There, the systems must map 20 percent of the 500-square kilometer competition area project site at 5-meter resolution and identify at least five archaeological, biological, or geological features, all within a 16hour timeframe. First round testing is scheduled to commence in September 2017; those advancing to the second and final round will face even greater challenges next year, deploying systems to 4,000 meters’ ocean depth. Benefits and Stewardship The number of users and stakeholders who will benefit from the efforts of GEBCO and the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE are many, with submarine cable companies high among them. From desktop studies for more reliable route planning activities, to detailed surveys for systems design and engineering, efficiencies gained through better access to more reliable data will help companies better design and manage subsea cable projects. A proud supporter of both the GEBCO and Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE initiatives is Fugro, a world-leader in the provision of geo-intelligence. Its early contribution to GEBCO includes work to build


the data inventory, initiating data sharing discussions with customers and donation of its own ‘crowd sourced’ bathymetry data acquired while transiting between project locations. Fugro is also working with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish a proof-of-concept workflow between private-sector contributors and public-sector hosting agencies. On the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, Fugro is capitalizing on its own deepwater survey experience to provide precision baseline bathymetry over the 500-square kilometer competition area for Round 1. The company is eager to see the potentially game-changing technologies these teams apply to the XPRIZE challenge. So, yes—it’s an exciting time to be involved in the ocean mapping and marine survey industry. Everyone is encouraged to stay tuned and to get involved. We all have a role to play in advocating, participating in, and benefiting from improved mapping of our world’s oceans. Edward J. (Ed) Saade is president of Fugro USA and regional director of Fugro’s Marine Division in the Americas. Appointed to these positions in 2014, Saade currently oversees a staff of 1,300, operating from eleven primary offices located as far north as Alaska and as far south as Brazil.



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.






he Asia Pacific region is currently undergoing a new phase of development with regard to submarine cable investment and its worth taking a look at what is in play now, what is coming and also, what is currently being planned. Although they are inter-dependent, the best way to approach this is in two parts, intra-Asia and trans-Pacific separately. Firstly, let’s look at what’s happening in the trans-Pacific market. Assets in the water that APTelecom see as ‘actively’ selling capacity would include systems such as AAG, FASTER, Unity and TGN Pacific. Apart from FASTER, which came into service nearly a year ago, the others mentioned above are simply getting old, upgrade cycles are increasing due to age and from our perspective, we simply don’t see them up to the task of meeting the growth that we are expecting to see over the next few years. Nearly all of our clients are seeking capacities in 100Gb increments or higher, so it’s hard to see these aging systems playing a significant role moving forward. As it stands today, there are quite a few systems either under construction or planned. Two systems that APTelecom are extremely familiar with are SEA-US and PLCN.

SEA-US is a mid-Pacific system which connects Indonesia, Philippines, Guam, Hawaii & US Mainland. This system is due to RFS later this year and to-date, has been extremely successful in generating pre-sales, with Guam acting as a natural hub given the sufficient feeder systems from Asia and Australia providing the inter-connectivity. Another new kid on the block is the PLCN cable, directly connecting Hong Kong to Los Angeles. Again, APTelecom is extremely familiar with this system and very pleased with the level of interest in this direct route slated for RFS in Q3, 2018. With its TE Subcom C+L repeater technology giving the system a volume of capacity never seen before per fibre pair, it looks like that for the next few years, there be less capacity constraints trans-pacific than ever before. Add to this NCP coming into service next year and the proposed HKA system slated for 2019, the trans-Pacific market will be well served in coming years. How does that impact on Asia? Given that filling these cable with active capacity will largely come from feeder systems in Asia, we should look at what is happening in that market. Apart from demand directly out of Hong Kong, the main game


in town is Singapore to Hong Kong (direct). From a practical perspective, SJC has been the main-stay offering direct connectivity not only to Hong Kong, but also Japan. SJC’s pricing has been spot-on and served this market extremely well since 2013 and is regularly being upgraded. AAG unfortunately, although extremely popular on the Hong Kong to Los Angeles route, has had a less than impressive service history intra-Asia south of Hong Kong. With new systems coming into service such as APG and AAE-1, although built to serve multiple markets, there is a need for system with direct Singapore – Hong Kong / Japan access, rather than omnibus systems. With significant talk in the market about SJC2 and AAG2, we should see a scenario by 2018/19 where there is matched capacity in the context of 100Gb wavelengths and spectrum available to match that coming on-line trans-Pacific. Ultimately, these two geographical regions have a symbiotic relationship matched infrastructure will only lead to a healthy intra-Asia / transPac capacity market beyond 2020. What is encouraging from APTelecom’s perspective is the continued demand in the region and forward looking investments being made. This bodes well for all of us in the industry.

As Co-Founder and CEO, Eric Handa has built APTelecom into a globally recognized leader in telecom and fiber consulting. Since launching in 2010, Handa has grown APTelecom from a startup business to an award-winning global organization which has generated over US $125 million in sales for clients, and has been named the Sales Team of the Year by the Global Customer Sales and Service Awards, as well as a silver award winner of the 2014 Fastest-Growing Company EMEA by the Best in Biz Awards.






During Suboptic 2016 in Dubai, one active and passionate session was about cable recovery and relay (Reference 1). An area of discussion was about the risk to relay and operate with some good technical confidence at long term, a cable that was recovered from the sea bottom. There is a real business concern: a cable is designed for a specific route and may not be well adapted on a different sea bottom. In addition the cable is robust and designed to be recovered and relayed on short sections for repair (Reference 2), but there is more risk to damage the cable in case of recovery and relay of hundreds of kilometers of cable. There is some successful cases of cable recovery and relay of optical cables such as TAT 12, Gemini, CBUS or GOKI, but they are not so many, and the marine cost being uncompressible, the return on investment is questionable considering that the relayed cable remains an “old cable” and cannot benefit from a new guaranty. There was a very successful story of renewal of an old cable by a bright new technology on Hugo cable (France-Guernesey-UK) by Xtera who added repeaters on an obsolete unrepeatered cable, but it was a single shot, and could not prove to become a successful business model. This recent history recall a tragic early period of submarine cables: in World War I, two large German cables in the Atlantic had been cut

and rerouted and relayed to be used by France. The company “India Rubber, Guta Percha, and Telegraph Works Company,” called in short “Silverstown Company,” achieved an incredible task to recover and relay for the French administration two large German cables of several hundred kilometers in the Atlantic, inventing a technical strategy and process to recover and relay the fragile cable. Due to the war, this ended in tragic conditions when the CS Dacia and its French accompanying man-of-war “Surprise” as well as an auxiliary ship “Kangourou” were sunk in Funchal (Madera) by the German submarine U-38 on December 3rd 1916, killing 33 French and 7 Portuguese crew members. The full story and its multiple important historical, political, and strategic implications have been analyzed in detail by Gérard Fouchard, and published in the review “Association des Amis des Cables Sous-Marins” AACSM (Reference 3) using the well documented site http://atlantic-cable. com (Reference 4). The present short article is based on this work, thank to Gérard Fouchard, and focus only on the aspect of cable recovery and relay.


Submarine cables have always been strategic assets. In 1914, Germany had almost 40 thousand km of telegraphic submarine cables. All


the German submarine cables were cut at the beginning of World War I by the coalition, and Germany had to rely on radio links and neutral cables that were all easily spied and listened upon. On the very first day, when Great Britain declared war to Germany, on August 5th 1914, the British cable ship “Alert” cut the five German cables crossing the Channel and in particular the concatenated cable Emden (North Germany) to Tenerife (Canarias islands) linking then Monrovia (in Liberia). These two cable stayed two years unused at the sea bottom, before being diverted secretly for France as described below. The French government, who had no national fleet for cable lay and maintenance at that time, was relying on marine fleets from the “Silverstown Company” that had several cable ships including the CS Dacia (Figure 1), contracted by the French administration from 1871 to 1925. The French administration asked secretly the Silverstown Company to recover the above two German cables to build two new cables for France. The cable from Emden to Tenerife was partly recovered and relayed to constitute a cable from Brest (French Britany) to Casablanca (Morocco) and the cable from Tenerife to Monrovia was partly recovered to constitute a cable from Casablanca to Dakar (Senegal). The figure 2 illustrates on a modern map the ambition of these missions. This incredible challenge was accepted by the Silverston Company management despite the technical risk to fail and overall the war risk to be sunk by a German submarine during the slow marine operations.


Figure 1: CS Dacia off the Silvertown Works (c.1869) from Atlantic-cable.com

Long after CS Dacia and accompanying French man-of-war Surprise were sunk in Madera, the Times reported the story of the war fact and the heroism of the Cable ship team and of its Escort ship Surprise. The text below was published 41


Figure 2: route of the 2 cables before (orange) and after (red) relay

in the December 19th 1919 Issue of the journal. It emphasis the role of Major Craig, managing director, who conceived the scheme and advised the Board of the company to take the risks involved: “During the war CS Dacia’s cable diversion work was of course kept secret. But at the fifty-sixth Ordinary General Meeting of the India Rubber, Gutta Percha, and Telegraph Works Company, 18 December 1919, the Chairman of the company, Major Leonard Darwin, presented this report on the operations: There is one other matter connected with the past history of the 42

company to which I wish to allude. Since the war began I have on more than one occasion said that we had been doing work for the French Government, but I gave no details. Early in the war we were employed in diverting the German Emden-Teneriffe cable into St. Nazaire and in making several repairs to French Government cables — dangerous work, which ended more than two years afterwards with the sinking of our ship and the accompanying French man-of-war in Funchal Harbour, Madeira, by a German submarine.

Far the most important work accomplished by our ship, the Dacia, under the supervision of submarine cable engineers Mr. Crawford and Mr. Robinson successively, was the diversion of the rest of the German Emden-Teneriffe cable so as to connect Brest with Casablanca, in Morocco, and the diversion of the German Teneriffe-Monrovia cable so as to connect Morocco with Senegal. The Emden-Teneriffe cable was first cut off Brest, a length picked up and relaid into Brest. The same operation on a larger scale was then performed off Casablanca, with the result that, after the necessary connections had been made, this second portion of the German Emden-Teneriffe cable was converted into a French Brest-Casablanca cable. Similar work was carried out on the German Teneriffe-Monrovia cable, thus extending the French cable from Casablanca, to Dakar in Senegal. Our cable engineers, Mr. Crawford and Mr. Robinson, after fully considering the difficulties, held that these were possible operations; there were no signs that any other English expert, whether governmental or in private employment, shared in this view; whilst the electrical advisers to the French Government declared the scheme to be impracticable owing to the depth in which the cable lay. Imagine fishing for a cable in pitch darkness — not that any light at the bottom could have made matters easier — the cable lying about as far below the ship as is the Tower of London from Buckingham Palace; imagine trying to cut the cable in these circumstances in the hope of being able to haul up one of the two ends thus set free to the surface; imagine pulling it up vertically through these nearly three miles of water, then steaming away. whilst continuing to drag up the cable from the bottom, coiling it up on board without any kinks Or unperceived injuries; and finally relaying it exactly where required; imagine all this, and I think scepticism as to the possibility of success becomes more than excusable. If our information

is correct, this remarkable performance is absolutely unique in the history of submarine cable enterprise, and this whether we look to the length of the cable lifted, 1,200 miles, or to the average depth of the water in which it lay. Our staff without exception worked splendidly, but the chief credit for the success must be awarded to our managing director, Mr. C.H. Gray. He conceived the scheme and advised the Board to take the risks involved; he persuaded the French Government to neglect the doubts expressed by their own expert advisers; and he-inspired all hands with the energy essential for success in such a feat. I am very glad to say that the position was fully realised by the French Government, for our Foreign Office has recently transmitted to Mr. Gray the Cross of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, which had been awarded to him by the President of the French Republic for his services during the war. I know you will all join with me in giving him our hearty congratulations. (Cheers.) It is only his native modesty that prevents his wearing the red button to-day.”


The story of the CS Dacia and the India Rubber, Gutta Percha, and Telegraph Works Company re-

mind us that from their early age, submarine cables have been at the center of strategic technical epics (Reference 5). The present business posture in front of cable recovery and relay looks very shy, considering the marine know-how of today and the quality of present optical cables versus the know-how at the time of World War I when two large telegraphic Atlantic cables have been diverted. Already at the time of the CS Dacia, the French and British technical official authorities did not believe that relay of a submarine cable over multi hundreds kilometers was feasible, and the decision to take the risk came from the private adventurous “Guta Percha, and Telegraph Works” company . To moderate the matter, it must be noticed that the French authorities were considering that the risk was mainly from German attacks towards the ship during the operation. The stopover at Funchal in Madera took place at the end of the successive relay in a harbour that was believed to be out of reach of the German submarines that proved to be wrong, with the result of sinking three vessels (Figure 3), and killing 40 people. The largest monument in Funchal –Terreiro de Luta Senhora do Monte- is a memorial built by Madera in memory of this tragedy, and containing anchor chains from the three vessels.

Figure 3: “SS Dacia during the explosion 3 xi [1]916.” from Atlantic-cable.com



1. Suboptic 2016 Convention, http://suboptic.org/suboptic-2016/ 2. Undersea Fiber Communication Systems, Ed.2, José Chesnoy ed., Elsevier/Academic Press ISBN: 978-0-12-804269-4 (book) 3. Gérard Fouchard & Guy Gurnary, Association des Amis des Cables Sous-Marins” AACSM - Bulletin N°53, p.35 4. Site Atlantic Cable, http://atlantic-cable.com/Cableships/Dacia/index.htm 5. Du Morse à l’Internet, R.Salvador, G.Fouchard, Y.Rolland, A.P.Leclerc, Edition Association des Amis des Câbles Sous Marins, 2006 (book)

José Chesnoy (jose. chesnoy@free.fr), PhD, is an independent expert in the field of submarine cable technology. After Ecole Polytechnique and a first a 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 just published end 2015.


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pring is officially upon us and everything is in bloom! I’m not talking about flowers, mind you, our little industry is absolutely bustling right now. With what feels like a new system announced every two weeks, it’s hard to be in low spirits. In that spirit of new growth and expansion, I am very pleased to say that we have officially completed the grueling behind the scenes work on the SubTel new site. You’ve probably noticed the SubTel site visually change over the last month - while we were preparing our regular publications and daily news stories, our design team was diligently tackling the new look and feel of the STF Family of web sites. If you see Kevin Summers or Kieran Clark in the near future, please give them an ‘atta boy and a good clap on the back, their long hours paved the way for a brand new SubTel experience. I started writing this regular piece to give you, our readers, a bit of insight into what the backroom looks like, how we go about bringing you the quality publications


and services that you expect. Just like the new growth pushing its way through the ground in Spring, not all is wanted, there are weeds and pruning needs to be done. As we have been growing the accessibility of SubTel, not every idea has panned out, not every template is worth keeping. To me, the spirit of Spring is not only explosive growth, but also having the presence of mind to cultivate the best growth. Not every change that we make at SubTel is a winner, we are always trying to present the absolute best for our readers. Coming this summer, we will be continuing our updates to the online map, almanac, and a few other publications still in the works. On that note, let’s talk advertising: our next two publications are the Almanac and the next issue of the magazine, in which we discuss Regional Systems. If you are interested in riding the wave of good news into the summer, we are running a discount to appear in both, $5,250 for a large ad in both publications (a $ 1000 discount).

As always, if you want to reserve a space, or have any questions, please reach out. Loyally yours, Kristian Nielsen Vice President Thanks for reading, we have even more changes coming soon! 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.



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



Conferences SubOptic Inaugural Meeting 14 May 2017 Chicago, IL, USA 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: José Chesnoy, Kieran Clark, Eric R. Handa, Mike Last, Christopher Noyes, Edward Saade, John Tibbles Contributions are welcomed. Please forward to the Managing Editor at ksummers@subtelforum.com.

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.



PTC’18 21–24 January 2018 Honolulu, HI, USA Website

Global Outlook

ICPC 2018 Plenary 10-12 April 2018 Cape Town, South Africa Website


Finance & Legal May:

Subsea Capacity July:

Regional Systems September:

Offshore Energy November:

System Upgrades



love working from home. Not that I don’t like going into the office and seeing my co-workers, but I wouldn’t trade working at home for anything. Wayne usually takes me out to a nice restaurant when I come up to the city (I define anywhere with traffic lights as the city), and the city is a great place to visit the theatre or pineapples and screws, but it’s so nice to come home. These are my Top 10 Favorite Things About Working From Home:

5. I don’t have to miss the important little things that happen in the lives of my kids. If one of them does something funny or amazing, I’m usually there to see it. I love that.

2. It doesn’t matter how I dress. Listen: I don’t like suits. I wear jeans and t-shirts every day. Or maybe overalls.

9. My work day is bookended by milking cows.

1. I don’t have to commute. If I’m running late, it doesn’t matter. And I save 3 hours every single day. Significant amount of stress is just gone.

3. There’s a cat sleeping in my office. He’s been up here all day. When he wants out, he’ll cry. 4. I have lunch with my family every day. Every meal, every day.

6. No one complains if I’m blasting Johnny Cash, Tom T. Hall, Dolly Parton or Bob Dylan. No one cares if I sing or talk to myself or whatever. 7. I can drink on the job.

8. I don’t have to talk to anyone unless I feel like it. If I’m under the pressure of a deadline, I can just lock the door and shut out the rest of the world.


but that would just be tedious. So, thanks for reading, and thanks for installing the cables that sort of make it possible. Until next time...

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.

10. I’m about 100x more productive because I’m in my own space, working at my own pace, and I don’t have anyone looking over my shoulder. I could probably list 90 more reasons why I love working at home,




Profile for Submarine Telelecoms Forum

Submarine Telecoms Forum Issue #94  

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

Submarine Telecoms Forum Issue #94  

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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