SubTel Forum Magazine #107 - Regional Systems

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uly starts like most year’s Tour de France with a nervous excitement of possibility followed by the stark realization of the hard road ahead. Anybody who’s read my Exordium in the past knows I love the Le Tour! To me, it defines the human capability to overcome extreme adversity. Three years ago, I stood by an emergency room gurney silently wondering if my son would survive the night. Over the course of a couple of days the entire left side of his body had lost all feeling – from his eye to his toes. To the non-practitioner he was having a severe stroke, but to the attending Penn State-trained physician it was another kind of brain event. So, he bagged him with an IV steroidal drip, and we waited. I had supported an old high school swimming buddy in Illinois for a number of years during his annual MS walk fundraising, which he accomplished from a powered wheelchair without me really knowing anything about the disease. I became a lot more informed three years ago. Hospital days and intense live-in rehab weeks later, we began the slow reboot of a life forever changed, and slowly little-by-little new paths were created, sensations were realized again, and a new normalcy was learned. And slowly, walking returned; first with a walker, next with a cane, then just a long limp. So, skip ahead to today, a year after starting one of the new miracle drugs to prevent attacks – he has gone back to school to get a career-changing degree while working fulltime as a teacher’s assistance and then was recently hired as a 6th Grade Language Arts teacher, completing the long, unplanned transition from beat journalist to educator. He also decides to join me on my annual Wine Country half marathon run, which we ran together – a peloton of two – through adversity to victory, Νίκη, Nike. The Tour de France annually reminds me that life is filled


with lots of fits and starts – uphill and downhill – and anyone can wear a figurative maillot jaune. New challenges spur new winners. In the meantime, like a Domestique driving the peloton, things have been moving quickly at SubTel Forum where we are launching a few new tools for the industry. We are starting a new feature article for future issues - ON THE MOVE – highlighting the seemingly nonstop movement throughout the industry by various professionals. Companies are evolving and people are on the move and we want in our own way to help us all stay engaged. We are releasing our Online Submarine Cable Map, which was built on an Esri Arc GIS platform and linked to our Submarine Cable Database and tracks the progress of some 288 current and planned cable systems, 747 landing points, as well as internet and telecoms usage data for 254 countries. Systems are also linked to SubTel Forum’s NewsNow Feed, allowing viewing of current and archived news details. As a work in progress it will be updated throughout the year with pertinent data. Our goal is to make easily available not only data from the Submarine Cable Almanac, but also more and more new layers of system information. Take a look (https:// and tell us what you think of both desktop and mobile versions. Thanks to the myriad of industry folks who have helped with pertinent details. We are releasing our Global Capacity Pricing Report, which details pricing on major worldwide cable routes. We include a recently developed Pricing Benchmark model to help identify healthy cable routes. The Pricing Benchmark considers several cost and pricing factors to provide a quick reference score to help the industry better understand the economic health of submarine cable systems from a route and regional perspective.

A Publication of Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc. ISSN No. 1948-3031 PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER: Wayne Nielsen | VICE PRESIDENT: Kristian Nielsen | SALES: Teri Jones | | [+1] (703) 471-4902 EDITOR: Stephen Nielsen | DESIGN & PRODUCTION: Weswen Design |

We are also releasing our Regional Systems Market Report, which chronicles the work of some 18 financiers, 477 cable owners, system suppliers, upgraders, surveyors and installers – where have we been, where are we going and who’s driving the pack. We recently released our Semiannual Readership Survey as part of our continuing effort to bring the most relevant and useful publications to market and we ask readers to take this short survey and let us know how we are doing and what we need to do better. (http://survey.constantcontact. com/survey/a07egfe02qljxc5muim/start) Thanks, as always to this issue’s authors who have provided once again some really excellent articles and insight. And lastly, should you be in Nimes or Pont du Gard for le Tour, come by and say hi; I’ll be the obnoxious Yank waving the stars & stripes. A bientôt dans le peloton! STF Good reading,

Wayne Nielsen Publisher

DEPARTMENT WRITERS: Derek Cassidy, Kieran Clark, Kristian Nielsen and Wayne Nielsen FEATURE WRITERS: Anders Ljung, Derek Cassidy, Fiona Beck, Hector Hernandez, John Hibbard, Kieran Clark, Kristian Nielsen, Lynsey Thomas, Paul McCann, Steve Briggs and Tony Frisch NEXT ISSUE: SEPTEMBER 2019 Offshore Energy

Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc. BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Margaret Nielsen, Wayne Nielsen and Kristian Nielsen

STF Events, Inc. CONFERENCE DIRECTOR: Christopher Noyes | | [+1] (703) 468-0554

STF Analytics, Division of SubTel Forum, Inc. LEAD ANALYST: Kieran Clark | | [+1] (703) 468-1382

Contributions are welcomed and should be forwarded to: 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. New Subscriptions, Enquiries and Changes of Address 21495 Ridgetop Circle, Suite 201, Sterling, Virginia 20166, USA, or call [+1] (703) 444-0845, fax [+1] (703) 349-5562, or visit Copyright © 2019 Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc.




CONTEN TS features




BREAKING THE ICE By Hector Hernandez

By John Hibbard and Paul McCann










By Steve Briggs




LET'S TALK ABOUT IT By Kristian Nielsen

By Anders Ljung, Tony Frisch and Lynsey Thomas



departments EXORDIUM........................................................ 2 STF ANALYTICS REPORT..................................... 6 BACK REFLECTION........................................... 52

ON THE MOVE.................................................. 59 SUBMARINE CABLE NEWS NOW....................... 60 ADVERTISER CORNER...................................... 62 JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107






o address the growing reporting and analysis needs of the submarine fiber industry, STF Analytics continues its Market Sector Report series – designed to provide the industry with the information it needs to make informed business decisions. The Submarine Telecoms Market Sector Report is a bi-monthly product covering a specific sector of the submarine fiber industry, coinciding with the theme of each issue of the SubTel Forum Magazine. This edition provides a region by region overview of the state of the submarine fiber industry. STF Analytics collected and analyzed data derived from a variety of public, commercial and scientific sources to best analyze and project market



conditions. While every care is taken in preparing this report, these are our best estimates based on information provided and discussed in this industry.

STF Analytics collected and analyzed data derived from a variety of public, commercial and scientific sources to best analyze and project market conditions.

The following Executive Summary provides an overview of the topics addressed in this month’s report.


The submarine fiber market continues to grow through 2020 at a similar rate to that observed since 2016. Some regions have begun to slow their pace with fewer systems planned beyond 2021. There are some overbuild concerns considering the rapid pace of system development over the last few years, but many cable systems that are reaching the end of their economic and technological lifespans and will need replacing. Due to increasing capacity demands along the north Transatlantic between

25 20 15 10

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

Figure 1: Systems in Service, Transatlantic


KMS (in thousands)

New York and Europe, and the desire for new connections to the Mid-Atlantic of the United States and across the South Atlantic, the Transatlantic route has enjoyed steady growth. (Figure 1) The need for more infrastructure is on the rise by Over the Top (OTT) providers operating in the region and upgrades to existing systems do not adequately meet demand. As with the Transatlantic market, until very recently the Transpacific has been almost fully saturated with available capacity, leaving little room for growth other than route diversity and cutting down on existing latency. Lately, however, new systems are being explored in a similar manner to the Transatlantic. Demand from OTT providers and increased desire for route diversity are the primary drivers behind these newer Transpacific systems. Continuing its strong growth trend, the Americas region has several systems planned for 2019-2020. The last few years have been relatively busy even compared to historical trends for the region. With a development rate that has remained steady since 2001, the period 2019-2020 should still be within historical norms or even slightly ahead of them. Most new systems in AustralAsia will connect small nations to mainland Asia or existing international pipelines, while a handful will span nearly the entire region. While this region has seen a tremendous amount of growth in recent years, activity has slowed down considerably. Most major population centers in the area have now been connected to the international telecommunications network and growth in the Pacific has shifted towards Transpacific routes connecting

250 200 150

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

Figure 2: KMS Added – Americas

data center locations. The EMEA region has averaged three new systems every year since 2002. This region has historically been characterized by the inter-regional cables as well as large coastal systems

ringing Africa. The EMEA region is the most consistent in the world and has a growth pattern that is seemingly immune to the industry’s boom and bust pattern seen over the past 15 years. Unfortunately, the EMEA MAY 2019 | ISSUE 106


ANALYTICS Interest in the Arctic has grown over the past few years, as cable developers are looking to take advantage of significantly shorter routes that can be achieved through the Arctic Circle.



No Yes 75%

Figure 3: Contract in Force - Indian Ocean Pan-East Asian, 2019 and Beyond

region continues to be rife with economic uncertainty and political instability, casting a cloud over any prospective projects. The Indian Ocean Pan-East Asian region does not generally have a strong telecoms presence on its own. However, with Australia looking for more route diversity from its western coast, an increasing desire for connectivity between Asia and Europe and the continued growth of India’s telecommunications industry, the region is prime for growth. Additionally, there are hints that OTT providers will explore routes from the United States to India and potentially bring more

system development to the region. (Figure 3) Interest in the Arctic has grown over the past few years, as cable developers are looking to take advantage of significantly shorter routes that can be achieved through the Arctic Circle. Additionally, systems exploring Arctic routes avoid the troubled Middle East region and circumvent potential privacy concerns in the United States. We hope this report will prove to be a valuable resource to the submarine fiber industry at large. To purchase a full copy of this report, please click the link below. SF

KIERAN CLARK is the Lead Analyst for STF Analytics, a division of Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc. He originally joined SubTel Forum in 2013 as a Broadcast Technician to provide support for live event video streaming. He has 6+ years of live production experience and has worked alongside some of the premier organizations in video web streaming. In 2014, Kieran was promoted to Analyst and is currently responsible for the research and maintenance that supports the STF Analytics Submarine Cable Database. In 2016, he was promoted to Lead Analyst and put in charge of the newly created STF Analytics. His analysis is featured in almost the entire array of SubTel Forum publications.




Featuring exclusive data and analysis from STF Analytics – • Backed by industry-leading Submarine Cable Database • Overview of cable systems on a region by region basis • In-depth look at regional submarine fiber markets • Signature analysis • Priced for every budget



ISO 9001:2015 certified designer and imp for commercial, governmen




plementer of submarine fiber cable systems ntal and oil & gas companies


MARCH 2019 | ISSUE 104




There are 22 small island countries and territories in the Pacific Region (the so-called PICs), a region which covers an area of some 80,000,000 square kilometers, and comprises of three major groups of islands Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.


The PICs require efficient, resilient connectivity to the global digital highway in order to participate in e-commerce and provide the services to their nation which are obtainable elsewhere in the world. Satellite and microwave connections are both bandwidth limited and vulnerable to adverse weather conditions – especially cyclones. Accordingly, PIC access to high capacity, secure cable links are required to connect to the Global



Internet - because this is the platform for all digital services. Although it is not quite as dominant as it historically has been, mainland USA remains the major hub of the

delay in the signal transmission due to added length) due to some circuitous routing, this is well offset by the efficiency of using the regional hub and the cost effectiveness of such a connectivity arrangement.


EVEN THE SMALLER COUNTRIES WILL HAVE A SUBMARINE CABLE BY JOHN HIBBARD AND PAUL MCCANN Global Internet, and hence connections directly or indirectly to the US mainland are vital for the provision of communication services. Australia for example provides a hub of the Global Internet, but even this “regional hub” is subtended off more significant hubs in USA. Europe is the same. Because of the distance to the USA west coast for PICs, coupled with low traffic volumes, the most cost-effective way for PICs to connect to the Global Internet via cable is via a regional hub. Apart from Sydney and Auckland, Fiji, Guam and Hawaii have all evolved as “regional hubs”. Thus, today many of the PIC submarine cable connections are to one of these hubs, because they result in shorter cable lengths and hence lower capital and operational costs. Accordingly, as the capacity demands of PICs are very modest, and the costs for building and maintaining long distance cable systems is high, it is difficult for PICs to justify building expansive, dedicated capacity directly to the USA. As such, regional hubs offer a cost-effective option for PICs, and whilst there can be a minor increase in latency (the

Cable Systems have progressively constructed over the last 20 years. Many of these systems serve more than one PIC. In more recent years, there has been a growing tendency for systems to service multiple PICs, particularly vis spurs off more major cables. The following which include standalone domestic systems indicate the progressive implementation:


There are several ways in which a PIC can use a submarine cable to connect to a regional hub: • One is a “point-to-point” cable. This is a single cable linking two points e.g. Tonga to Fiji • Another involves a “spur connection” off another cable passing near the PIC. The technology is available which involves placing a Branching Unit (BU) on a cable so as the split off a proportion of the capacity and feed it on a spur cable to the PIC. Since the demands generated by PICs are very modest compared to the major trans-Pacific cables, they do not significantly deplete a trans-oceanic cable’s capacity and hence can generally be accommodated technically. However, agreement by the owners of the main cable can often require some intense experienced negotiation such as with

JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107


FEATURE Palau Spur Cable interconnecting Year Systems Constructed lets around the main islands. An attraction of domestic cables onto SEA-US West Cable system. 2005 and before 4 is that they are often unrepeatered The international cables to PICs 2006 1 – that is they are under 450 kms in mostly go to the capital city of the 2007 0 4 2008 length between landings and so do nation. Depending on the geog2009 2 not need the subsea amplifiers that raphy and demographics of the 2010 2 longer international submarine country, this may afford connectiv2011 0 cable systems require. This makes ity to a greater or lesser proportion 2012 0 them less expensive in terms of of the country. In case of single 2013 0 both capital and operational costs, island PICs (such a Niue and Nau2014 1 as well a less complex requiring ru) this could afford access to 100% 2015 1 less skilled technical staff and betof the country, whereas with a PIC 0 2016 2017 2 ter suited to the remote locations such as Solomon Islands with its 2018 3 they serve. multiple islands, it could be as low 2019 to date 2 as 20%. This is an issue for all those Total 22 PICs with numerous islands, parSTATUS OF CABLES IN THE PACIFIC ticularly where the islands INVOLVING PICS are separated by distances In analysing the status Cables International Domestic over approximately 60kms of submarine cables serving In service 18 15 (as long-distance microwave PICs, they have been subUnder Construction 10 5 systems are only suited to divided into several categoIn Development/ Planning 4 2 relatively short hops). ries. Firstly, they have been Total 32 22 For countries with more split between international widely dispersed and domestic (with islands, connecthose that are Category PICs Percentage tivity needs to mixed considered American Samoa, CNMI, Fiji, be via satellite or as international), Well Connected 23% Guam, Samoa submarine cable, and secondly, they or as is increasare categorized FSM, French Polynesia, New ingly the case, a with their current Reasonably Connected Caledonia, Palau, RMI, Tonga, 41% combination of state of developVanuatu, PNG, W&F both. Performance ment. The numbers Connections under Cook Is, Kiribati, Niue, Tokelau, and bandwidth below represent 23% limitations of both the number of Construction Solomon Is, microwave and PICs being serPlans for Connection Tuvalu, Nauru 9% satellite are today viced by existing or No Plans for Connection Pitcairn Is 4% contributing to the being constructed growing demand or planned. for domestic submarine cables. Domestic cables come in Of the PICs being serviced by 54 cables, 34 involve spurs several forms: from BUs and 20 are point-to-point. • there are the point-to-point cables, as being installed That leaves Pitcairn Island, as the only PIC with no subbetween Chuuk and Pohnpei in FSM; marine cable and no firm plans for a submarine cable con• there are the “fishbone” cables with multiple BUs and nection. Pitcairn Island is 2500kms east of Tahiti and has spurs to passing islands, for example the Honotua do57 people. With such a low population it is not considered mestic cable in French Polynesia connecting Tahiti to justified in being connected via submarine cable. However, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea and Bora Bora; and this might change if the occasionally suggested Santiago to • there are “festoon” cables which land at multiple points Tahiti cable via Easter Island was to materialise. around the country, for example the Palau domestic cable – this is a festoon where the cable lands at a dozen ham-



Map courtesy of Telegeography


Many PICs have domestic cables. In fact, there are 12 PICs with at least one in service, 4 with their first domestic cable under construction and 1 in some form of planning giving a total of 17. Of the remaining PICs, four (Guam, Nauru, Niue and Pitcairn Is) are single islands with no real need for a domestic system, leaving only Tuvalu with no clear initiative to get a domestic cable. Of the PICs, five have a second domestic cable in service or at some stage of planning/in progress.


The analysis of the submarine cables serving PICs identifies that a significant proportion will be served adequately with international cable connectivity. The following table indicates those with international connectivity to at least their capital city:


Below is a Table showing the funding of a selection of PIC cables. These are cables that are in the water excluding main cables from Fiji & Guam (i.e., excludes cables that

don’t go to another PIC). The Table indicates the level of equity, who are the equity investors, and where the source of any debt or grant funding comes.


• Note 1: These cables are Govt or SOE owned but funding came from MDB sources without direct contribution from the equity parties • Note2: This cable was funded in part by IS DOD. The other part came from FSM and RMI carriers who in turn were funded by RUS loans. • Note 3: Samoa NPF, Unit Trust of Samoa and Samoa Life Assurance Company are all predominantly Government owned. The particular thing to note is that almost all the cables involves grants or concessional funding from MDB or Government loans. Of the others, 3 came solely from corporate funds. Only ASH, SAS and Interchange came from commercial bank lending (noting that ASH and SAS were re-laid cables). In some ways, the Interchange cable from Vanuatu to Fiji is unique being the only new cable in the list built with commercial bank funds. Because of the low JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107


FEATURE Grant/Debt Lenders traffic volumes and long distances, building a Equity Cable Equity Investors Private/ business case using customer prices significantly % Govt/MDB Commercial less than satellite is extremely difficult given ATISA 100% Docomo Pacific (100%) Nil Nil the capital cost of submarine cables. Such was Interchange Ltd (20%), ANZ Bank achieved primarily through the considerable Interchange 50% Govt of Vanuatu (20%), (100%) perseverance of the promoter (Simon Fletcher) VNPF (60%) as it took more than 3 years to persuade the Blue Sky (16.7%), bank that this would be a profitable venture. Digicel (16.7%), CSL 20% ADB (55%), WB But now it is profitable, debt is being repaid (16.7%), SNPF (20%), (41%), DFAT Tui-Samoa Nil and it has recently distributed its first dividend. UTOS (20%), SLAC (4%) A new challenge is emerging in the Pacific. (10%) Note3 The annual growth experienced by first cables has Elandia (67%); ASG ANZ Bank generally been well over 50% and often nearer to ASH & SAS 33% (33%) (100%) 100% as be seen from the graph below (X-axis APNG2 100% SOE (100%) Nil Nil is quarters since RFS, and Y-axis is % growth on PPC1 Spur 100% SOE (100%) Nil Nil traffic level immediately prior to RFS). Honotua 40% SOE (100%) AFD (100%) The mass migration to cable connectivity WB (60%), ADB Tonga Govt (80%), SOE (20%) (40%) fuelled by the abundant capacity and much lower Palau Govt (100%) ADB (100%) prices to the retail users has increased the depenNote1 FSM Govt (100%) WB (100%) dence of the countries on the cable. The whole Fiji Domestic Govt (100%) WB (100%) economy of a PIC is becoming dependent on W&F Spur SOE (100%) AFD (100%) this umbilical cord. Recent experience with the Palau Domestic SOE (100%) US-RUS cable break in Tonga has highlighted the imporNote2 HANTRU USDOD, 2xSOE US-RUS tance that these cables play. So now several the PICs are looking second cables to provide the security that diverse connections can bring. The challenge combine with more domestic cables to fill out the commuhere is that a second cable brings little extra traffic and gen- nications networks. STF erally no cost reduction – rather increased costs so financial JOHN HIBBARD is CEO of Hibbard Consulting Pty Ltd. John justification is very difficult. With the MDBs having been has worked in the telecommunications industry for over 40 particularly focussed on getting good connectivity for a years, and for more than 30 has been associated with submarine cables. An Engineer by qualification, John worked country, second cables do not achieve that and so building a for much of his career at Telstra finishing as Managing case for funding of second cables is quite difficult. Director of Global Wholesale. John was the inaugural


From having very few cables 15 years ago, the Pacific is now approaching the stage where even the smaller countries will have a submarine cable. The great achievement of providing first class connectivity has seen the economies of the countries develop while affording enhanced access by the population to the internet. Much of the credit for this must go to the funding agencies who have foreseen the benefits of this effective communication medium. However, the success is now bringing excessive dependence and the time has arisen when mechanisms to secure the first cable are demanded. While most initial cables are the capital cities, now more and more of the populations on islands and areas outside the capital are demanding comparable internet access. As building viable business cases for domestic cables can be challenging, new satellite techniques might



Chairman of Australia Japan Cable which he guided to a successful implementation. Since 2001, John has been an independent consultant in his own company, Hibbard Consulting, involved in strategic and commercial aspects associated with the development and/or implementation of many international submarine cable projects across the Pacific including French Polynesia, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomons, PNG, Palau, FSM, and CNMI. He was President of PTC from 2009 to 2012. PAUL MCCANN is Managing Director of McCann Consulting International Pty Ltd. Paul has over 40 years network planning & development experience in telecommunications both in international and domestic arenas. Prior to returning to consulting in 2012, Paul spent over 8 years with Verizon in Asia Pacific, driving growth of Verizon’s network across Asia by developing & implementing plans delivering major operational cost reductions and improved service performance. Paul is now managing his own consulting business, specializing in development in the Pacific Region, where the core business focus is on “connectivity” with expertise spanning all aspects of planning and development for Satellite, Submarine cable and Domestic access technologies and business. Paul is well known for his personable nature, his rapport with customers and his ability to deliver on time.

JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107





here was a time when Ireland was at the centre or hub of international communications. Its international connectivity managed by international and state companies alike, the multiple submarine cable stations along its coast played pivotal roles in the First World War and the other international events around the world. It had a world renowned telecommunications infrastructure both nationally and internationally. Ireland’s role in the development and innovation off communications was seen as leader and innovator within the world of telecommunications. Its industrial development was also leveraged with the deployment and national coverage of its railways, which also acted as conduits for communications infrastructure, as it did in other countries. It hit its height in the telegraph era but soon Its importance in the communications field began to wane, in the 1930s and it was soon seen as a backdrop to the developing world of communication ideas and innovation, although it still contributed and took its part, albeit a minor one. But soon this was to change when the politics of the day along with its membership of the European Union and its




open economy fostered a new understanding that soon developed into the economic revival that we called “the Celtic Tiger”. This followed a new confidence in the country that allowed Ireland to develop into a world economy that thrived. This increased economic growth had positive effects on its society as its industrial, transport and communication infrastructure soon took on a new phase of development. The development of Ireland’s communications infrastructure soon evolved into one that was seen as an early innovator and leader as Ireland’s telecom incumbent soon had stiff competition from other telecom operators who were developing their own brand of communications and reaching the masses. The introduction of international connectivity soon took hold with new submarine cable links being deployed by five separate operators all competing for business and outdoing the national incumbent with regards to European and international connectivity. Soon Ireland was seen as an international communications hub. However with the Dot. Com boom taking hold and soon retreating again with its

implosion in the early noughties. Industrial Ireland did not suffer as much, but its fast paced communication deployment strategy took a setback with the development of communication infrastructure coming to a near halt and the development of new submarine cable connectivity standing still. But it has to be noted that during this time its competitiveness and attractiveness as an industrial nation was still on a growth pattern as the economy continued to grow. But that all came to a standstill with the financial recession which started in 2008, which hit Ireland very badly. The country was treated differently from any other Euro country in that it took on all the debts of the banks as national debt unlike other Euro member states. However Ireland did not stop evolving and soon within 6 years it was seeing its economy grow again. This is because Ireland is an open economy with free movement of ideas, both industrial and technological. Over the last few years Ireland has seen a communication revolution that has extended all the way into the centre of Irish life. From the area of communications the tentacles of this revolution have penetrated the transport, medical, academic and social aspects of Irish society. The tourism industry has also seen an upsurge in communication dependence with many if not all tourist industry members having an online presence and the need to offer Wi-Fi and always on connectivity. The era of smart cities is beginning to take hold in Ireland with new free city wide always on Wi-Fi areas enabling free access at tolerable speeds of up to 25Mbs. At present this is only available in the larger towns and cities but it is spreading and gaining traction with the population and tourists alike. Ireland has recorded a position of 29th is the league table of worlds fasted broadband speeds and 17th highest in the European Union. It was ahead of countries such as UK (34) and Austria (40) but what’s surprising is that it also ahead of Korea (42). This has been achieved with the investment by many companies with their own broadband build and rollout programmes. The Irish Government sees the importance of broadband access as it is nearing the final stages of a strategy to rollout broadband across the Ireland, especially rural and hard to reach places. It has agreed a minimum speed of 25Gb/s per connection as the national standard. However with penetration already high in the cities and urban areas, the rural communities are slowly catching up. With the need to access the internet and interact with various web services while being on the move has increased tenfold and put pressure on the network operators to increase their build and rollout strategies. There are already projects underway to install optical fibre along the nation’s motorway network and any new major road infrastructure will also include

Over the last few years Ireland has seen a communication revolution that has extended all the way into the centre of Irish life. From the area of communications the tentacles of this revolution have penetrated the transport, medical, academic and social aspects of Irish society.

backhaul infrastructure for network operators to use and incorporate into their own systems of operation. This communication revolution in our society is already in full cycle with new technologies such as the internet of things (IOT) competing with existing high demand web services. The continual evolution of broadband access from fixed or partial mobile systems to full mobility has seen an increase in connectivity and usage that eats directly into the available network capacity. The introduction of the smart home and always on mobile away-from-home network has increased the need to develop new strategies and network plans to increase capacity capable of carrying the increased broadband usage. Network operators are increasingly looking at ways to incorporate new technologies such as 400GbE and next generation Flexgrid dense wave division multiplex (Flex-DWDM) so that they can increase capacity without increasing their backhaul infrastructure footprint. However with the next generation wireless (5G) and artificial intelligence (AI) systems soon coming on line these will add to the already over overheating communication infrastructure. It’s plain and simple, for increased capacity and bandwidth growth there is a need to look at the bigger picture and increase international connectivity. This capacity and bandwidth growth can be seen in the increase in the Data Centre footprint and increase in bandwidth across the Data Centre cross connects and interconnects. It can also be seen in the increased footprint of national networks as network operators invest in upgrading or developing their strategic goals to increase penetration across sectors of society and population. However this is still seen as regional or national infrastructure development and this is all well and good when JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107


FEATURE a country is connected to other nations who also have a good optical infrastructure network that can be utilised for interconnects. But when you are an island, then that strategy comes with its own difficulties and challenges. The need to look internationally and look at other operators and consortiums to develop these international links needs to be a priority. The national communications infrastructure network is really a regional network but it needs to become an international network. Its whole communications infrastructure along with its multiple international submarine cable networks need to be seen as the Irish Regional Network. As we can see the evolution of communication and the increased mobility has also led to the increase in and demand for Cloud services. This goes hand in hand with the increases bandwidth usage of Data Centres and their ability to act as storage warehouses with large capacity interconnects. This increase in cloud infrastructure and connectivity brings big challenges to the national and international telecom operators as they battle to increase capacity within their networks. But the operators themselves are not the only ones feeling the heat, ISPs and online service operators are also feeling the increased pressure to provide capacity and increase their capability to act as on-line cloud hosting services and webhosting centres. Over the last few years the communications environment has changed so much that broadband is now seen as the main driver and technological multiplier across our society. The ability to use your smartphone as a mini computer means that the standard services on fixed systems like PCs and semiportable laptops has now gone fully mobile. With the introduction of the internet of things (IOT) in the last few years and the deployment of IOT devices puts a heavy load onto the already existing optical networks. The need to add capacity and deploy higher capacity next generation networks (NGN) and new capacity and bandwidth increasing technologies, increases every day. As with the Irish Government’s plan to rollout broadband to as many properties in the country and the need to develop new ways to develop communication penetration over fixed wire systems like optical fibre, there is a need to increase international connectivity. Since 2011 there has been an upsurge in international connectivity with these cables alone increasing international capacity tenfold on the previous maximum capacity seen over the previous twenty five years. Between the years 1986 and 2010 there has been a total of 13 submarine cables connecting Ireland internationally and the total bandwidth available was just approaching 100Tb/s across all cables at maximum capacity. However from 2011 five submarine cables have been installed with a capacity well in excess of 1000Tb/s at maximum availability. With another



two cables being landed and going into operation soon, this could bring the international capacity on these cables, since 2011, to 1.5Pb/s. However it does not end here, there are plans to increase this capacity as three more cables are on the horizon which will again add to the national capacity bank. But even with these cables on line and new ones coming on line, this does not mean that the bank of national and international capacity is now available. There still needs to be an investment in capacity availability and management. To differentiate between the new technologies which include of 400Gb wavelengths and flexible-channel grid on the DWDM plane from existing technologies such 100Gb and 200Gb wavelengths, these new technologies can offer increase capacity across the regional optical network. However their application across submarine cable and long haul systems still needs investigation and research. Having higher bandwidth capable channels can increase the channel capacity on the DWDM channel grid with lower channel spacing. It must be noted that the ability to increase the channel count across the grid comes with issues that optical power and distance are trade-offs that need accepting before they are deployed. So by increasing the regional or national communication infrastructure with increased channel capacity can be achieved as the trade-offs between optical power, distance and channel count can be overcome the need to match this with international connectivity needs the increased international connectivity provided by the development of higher capacity submarine cables. After all Ireland is an island and when society connects and interacts with the internet and web services, it does so with servers that are hosting data and information that usually does not originate in Ireland. So that’s why the national communication infrastructure needs to evolve from a regional system into an international system. It needs to incorporate the international connectivity into its overall communication infrastructure strategy and evolve into a communication infrastructure where capacity can be traded, leased, bought so that the communication needs of society and the economy can grow. STF DEREK CASSIDY is doing a PhD in the field of Optical Engineering and Wavelength manipulation with the College of Engineering and Architecture, UCD. He is also a Chartered Engineer with the IET and Past-Chair of IET Ireland; Chairman of the Irish Communications Research Group, an organisation dedicated to the promotion, protection and research of Ireland’s communication heritage and is currently researching the Communication History of Ireland. He is also a member of SPIE, OSA, IEEE and a member of Engineers Ireland. He has worked for 24 years in the telecommunications industry of which 19 years have been spent working for BT in their Engineering division. Derek holds the following Degrees; BSc (Physics/Optical Engineering), BEng (Structural/Mechanical Engineering) and BSc (Engineering Design) and has a Master’s Degrees MEng (Structural, Mechanical, and Forensic Engineering) and a Master’s Degree MSc (Optical Engineering).









he first Submarine cable system installed in the Arctic region, near the Arctic Circle, was implemented in 2009. The first Submarine cable system installed in the Arctic Circle was Ready for Service (RFS) in 2017. At the time, building in the Arctic Region was viewed with scepticism and the belief that there is not a business case that could support such an endeavour. Times are changing. There are three new systems planned for RFS in the Arctic region some-time over the next few years (2022 to 2023). This activity in the region suggests there is a strong desire to build submarine cable systems in the Arctic and that there is a business case to support it. This article shares information around the current state of affairs, provides an outlook for growth in the Arctic Region and touches on business drivers that support the desire to build in this harsh environment.


TELE Greenland is the first Commercial implementation of a submarine cable system near the Arctic Circle, the “Greenland Connect” system was RFS in 2009, then



expanded the network north with “Greenland Connect North”, which was RFS in 2017. While this system is not technically in the Arctic Circle, it is in the Arctic region with similarly extreme cold climate conditions. Quintillion installed the first submarine cable system entirely in the Arctic Circle. After years of research, planning and design, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) installed the last segment of cable in late summer 2017 and the system went live that December, enabling 21st Century communications in the North American Arctic for the first time. Quintillions’ submarine cable system is 2,253 km delivering gigabit and higher bandwidth services to the communities of Nome, Point Hope, Wainwright, Kotzebue and Utqiagvik, Alaska. In addition, Quintillion’s new terrestrial fiber has been installed between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay. That connects these northern Alaska communities to the Pacific Northwest, as well as serves the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. This terrestrial system was launched and has been providing commercial service since spring of 2017. The current system represents phase 1 of Quintillion’s plans, the introduction of high-speed internet to Quintillion’s markets enabling improved health and education services, helping to spur economic development, empower-




ing local businesses and allowing consumers access to video and other high-speed applications. These systems were driven partially by commercial needs, but in large part by regional governments with a desire to improve their ability to provide social and economic development education and health care to their communities. Artic regions are populated by indigenous people that live in small communities; some as small 100 (or less) and others as large as several thousand. Most of them can’t be reached by road, depend on external supply chains and have limited means of communication – they are heavily dependent on satellite and microwave systems. In addition, the submarine system market is seeking to expand global capacity in order to meet demand, but also seeking to create new diverse routes that are more direct and reduce latency. There is also a global push to further integrate data centers and interconnections with terrestrial networks in order to create efficiencies and make submarine networks more resilient. These commercial needs are also driving the arctic projects, which in turn creates additional opportunities for regional governments to leverage their systems and partner with Commercial Entities to the benefit of everyone involved.


As mentioned, the Arctic region is remote, desolate and the environment is harsh with extremely cold temperatures that can range from -40 F to -80 F. Installing a submarine cable system in this harsh environment is fraught with challenges. First and foremost, there is the risk of Ice, ice stacking and icebergs. Ice can damage a submarine cable system near the shore end and in shallow waters in the ice flow path. System failures can last for several weeks and in some cases months, depending on when the ice recedes. Ice risk can be mitigated by a sound cable route, burial design and proper system design. Logistics is another challenge, this one easier to deal with, but more costly and requires careful planning and coordination. Submarine cable systems in the Arctic are built during open weather windows – durations of time when there is no ice and the weather is not as severe. Typically, these weather windows are short, three to four months. Therefore, building a Submarine cable system is at a minimum a two-year endeavor. Protecting the environment can also be challenging and more costly. Permitting and the associated requirements will impact cost and, in some cases, scheduling. Understanding permits and their requirements is key. These requirements include the observation of marine and land animals, measuring and mitigating noise, as well as developing environmental protection plans to be executed during marine installation and land operations in the tundra. Finally, there is the issue of respecting local customs. Suppliers and system owners need to understand and be sensitive to local customs, like substantive hunting of whales and seals. Understanding local customs and being sensitive to local concerns is essential to successfully install a submarine cable system. While these challenges seem to be insurmountable and too costly, suppliers and system owners are learning to how to meet these challenges.


Through experience and education, suppliers are meeting the arctic challenges. Suppliers acknowledge the push for new routes in and through the Arctic region and are equipping themselves with experience and knowledge to successfully serve the needs. While the challenges are formidable, they are not insurmountable. With careful project planning and strong financial planning system owners can justify the installation of a submarine cable systems. With more than two decades of arctic installation JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107



management, ASN has gained extensive experience in the design, manufacture, planning and installation of submarine cable systems in the Arctic region. ASN has successfully implemented solutions to overcome a number of challenges unique to the Arctic that include: • Restrictive environmental conditions and hazards including extreme cold, ice and the many icebergs • Collaboration with local and regional communities, governments and environmental groups to ensure system installation and operation in harmony with indigenous wildlife, cultural activities, polar codes and permitting requirements. • Innovation during the implementation phase to put in place the adequate solution. • System protection against ice scour, ice flows and extreme temperatures. • Remotely located landings with limited infrastructure and capabilities to efficiently support cable landing and installation activities. • Planning and logistics necessary to ensure there are proper personnel, lodging, equipment, fuel and spare parts to efficiently support the system supply operations. Understanding the complexities and risks of operations in polar environments and identifying a path to achieve successful construction can only be reached through competent and experienced teams. One good example of this is ASN’s successful design and implementation of a new plough for burial below ultra-deep ice scours in a section



above the Arctic Circle within months after being identified. ASN now believes the ice has been broken and all the enhancements developed will positively contribute to the efficient installation of any new system contemplated in the remote and extreme Arctic environment. Regional governments and commercial entities are also learning that they need each other and the demand for bandwidth is insatiable. This insatiable demand for bandwidth consumption continues to grow with no end in sight, as historical trends illustrate. This demand creates opportunity for governments and commercial entities to leverage submarine cable systems as they provide each other capacity and help each other achieve their goals. New submarine cable systems are being planned more strategically, with sufficient capacity to meet the system owner’s needs, as well as projected growth and with additional capacity to generate new revenue streams from third party IP transit. Technology continues to evolve at an astonishing rate, providing more capacity per card than previously imagined, while pushing that capacity over longer distances. Lessons learned, experience, innovation, technology and a strong desire to serve our communities is fueling governments and commercial entities alike to find ways to overcome these challenges and build submarine cable systems in the Arctic, improving the quality of life in the Arctic region while supporting global demand.


Currently there are several systems planned for RFS over the next few years. They include Arctic Connect, Quintillion Phase 2(a), Katittuq Nunavut and the Eastern Arctic Undersea Fiber Optic Network (EAUFON). Arctic Connect – is planned to span approx. 10,500 km skirting the Russian coast along the Northeast Passage connecting Asia and Europe, target Ready for Service (RFS) in 2022. Drivers for this system include providing an alternate route between Asia and Europe, and to significantly reduce the latency or transmission delay. Quintillion Phase 2(a) – Quintillion is aggressively advancing its plans to provide diversity and redundancy for communications in and out of Alaska. Phase 2a extends the current system from Nome branching unit south through the Aleutian Islands to a new Quintillion branching unit, then east 4,345 km via a submarine cable system designed for six (6) fiber pairs. Providing a new trans-pacific cable route when completed. This cable system will also connect Alaska to the Pacific Northwest at a new (or existing) cable landing station (CLS), initially creating a geographically diverse fiber ring around Alaska which in turn creates redundancy and resiliency to North American telecommunications routes. The Phase 2 (a) business case is in development and pending approval by December 2019 with a target RFS of 2021. Katittuq Nunavut – is planning a system that may span approx. 2,400 km from Greenland to Cape Dorset along the Hudson Straight. At the time of this report there is no new information available as to the status of this project. The government of Nunavut has communicated its desire to build this system is driven mostly to provide social and economic development opportunities for its citizens. EAUFON – The Kativik Regional Government (KRG), regional government entity has been involved in communications, specifically broadband communications in order to facilitate its operations and to provide broadband services to the citizens of the region. The benefits of high-speed reliable broadband are numerous and contribute immensely to improving the lives of the people living in the Kativik region as well as providing services to third parties. The EAUFON system is planned to span approx. 1,800 km along Quebec’s eastern shoreline in the Hudson Bay, connecting communities of the Kativik Regional

... suppliers have a strong desire to build systems in the Arctic and are working together to innovate more efficient installations.

Government (KRG). The project is currently in the tendering phase with a target RFS of 2020. The primary drivers for the EAUFON project are to provide bandwidth for health, education, policing, governance, business and high-speed internet access for the region over the next for 25 years and beyond, bringing the region on par with its’ southern neighbours. This activity, and others not yet made public, further demonstrates that governments, commercial entities and suppliers have a strong desire to build systems in the Arctic and are working together to innovate more efficient installations.


As discussed, the insatiable demand for faster internet speeds, more bandwidth capacity and route diversity are driving growth around the world. This need to develop faster and more diverse routes with higher capacity is encouraging development in the Arctic region. Governments, commercial entities and suppliers are “Breaking the Ice.” They are no longer afraid of the unknown, but are leveraging lessons learned and experience, innovating new, more efficient installation methods, technology and strategy to build new systems in this harsh arctic environment. History has proven it can be done and the current state of affairs demonstrates there is a strong desire to continue building in the Arctic. STF HECTOR HERNANDEZ is Projects Manager at WFN Strategies and a Project Management Professional (PMP™) specialist and possesses more than 20 years’ experience and knowledge in submarine cable systems, including Arctic and offshore Oil & Gas submarine fiber systems. He possesses extensive experience in ICT (Information & Communications Technology), including data networking/hosting, information technologies, fiber optic and wireless networks/services. As Projects Manager, he is responsible for on-going project supervision, and Engineering of all other WFN Strategies staff and is the primary point of contact with customers. Business disciplines include program/project management, planning, engineering, product development and operational experience. Strengths include developing, managing and leading multi-functional teams (strong soft skills); problem solving under pressure, quality assurance, risk management and effective communications across all business units, including executive management and clients. He is founded on Total Quality Management and continuous improvement, utilizing Waterfall, Agile, PMI and mixed project management methodologies to align company resources and achieve strategic goals. He is the former Program Manager for the Quintillion Subsea Cable implementation, and is based in San Antonio, Texas USA.

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ermuda has demonstrated it knows how to build a world renown reputation in the fields of insurance and financial services. It’s now looking to do the same in telecommunications and technology. Specifically, the island is driving plans to develop a subsea telecommunications corridor that would not only support industry best practices, but also provide critical connectivity to advance its own infrastructure and drive economic diversification. For the first time, a Bermuda delegation attended the high-profile SubOptic conference in April to meet the global submarine cable industry and to promote the island as a strategic Atlantic landing hub for fibreoptic cables. Attending was Fiona Beck, a director of the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) and a two-term past president of SubOptic, who delivered a presentation on Bermuda’s advantages; she was joined by BDA Business Development Manager Kevin Richards and Jeane Nikolai, Director of Telecommunications



through cables, making them indispensable for connected societies and business centres. Bermuda’s location creates a logical stopover for cables between the Americas, Western Europe and Africa. While the island already hosts three cables, a dedicated corridor and Bermuda’s focus on the submarine community and their assets would attract more and would further develop best practice.



AL PORT and Energy for the Bermuda government, which is working in partnership with the BDA to progress the national subsea corridor initiative. “The delegation promoted Bermuda as an Atlantic hub, a digital port if you like, for the interconnection of fibreoptic cables that are currently being built by some of the world’s largest tech companies,” says Bermuda’s Premier David Burt, whose government plans to table legislation later this year to create a dedicated fibreoptic corridor, with the aim of attracting new cable business and boosting connectivity. “Our government promised to diversify Bermuda’s economy, and this initiative, which the Cabinet has endorsed and is progressing through legislation, has the potential to create economic growth and jobs in Bermuda, as a link point for many new technology companies.” The effort builds on research overseen by Beck and carried out at the BDA in the summer of 2018 by Notre Dame University’s Thomas Tran and Bermudian Tyrese Coakley whose report indicated a cable protection zone in Bermuda waters could help the island become a hub for trans-Atlantic fiberoptic links. Kansas native Tran also attended SubOptic 2019 to present his follow-up white paper on the Bermuda project after it was accepted for peer review. More than 97 percent of the world’s information passes

Many planned trans-Atlantic systems are set to bypass Bermuda. However, those systems are owned by companies who now need to fulfil Europe’s new economic substance requirements. Branching units to Bermuda can provide key significant infrastructure to satisfy those requirements and support the IP assets those companies may locate in Bermuda. Importantly, infrastructure via submarine cables also encourages network diversity and activity for major tech companies, making Bermuda a digital port for the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. This along with spinoff opportunities such as cloud computing, data storage and nearshore personnel resourcing only serves to further economic substance in this jurisdiction. Interestingly, there presently exists no Atlantic hub for telecoms cables and Bermuda is realistically the only island nation that could deliver such a platform thanks to its geographic location. The Pacific currently has three hubs: in Guam, Hawaii and Fiji. A Bermuda hub would have the additional advantage of data-privacy; a Bermuda landing point would conveniently ensure that only data needing to enter onshore jurisdictions, such as the United States, would actually land in that country. “It would likely prove a win-win for everyone—for Bermuda and those tech companies that took advantage of a corridor and economic substance like this,” says Beck. “It certainly represents a timely opportunity that could help position Bermuda as a point of major strategic benefit to these submarine projects. It could also prove advantageous in the drive to diversify the island’s economy and support international business and fintech.”


Today, Bermuda’s insurance sector is one of the world’s largest hubs, second only to Lloyd’s of London. In 2009, Bermuda was the first international financial centre to be included on the OECD’s white list of countries deemed largely compliant with international standards of transparency and effective exchange of information. And it was one of just two non-European Union jurisdictions to win full equivalency under Europe’s Solvency II Directive regulating insurers.


Even if you don’t have a system going through Bermuda there are many other advantages to doing business here. Bermuda is number one in the world for captive insurance companies. If you have any significant assets around the globe, one way to save significant costs is through the establishment of a captive insurance company to insure your assets. Insurance for submarine cable networks can run out at anything from $200k -$1m pa depending on system length, configuration and risks you are trying to cover off. A 15%-20% saving on that cost is worth a conversation with the BDA.


Over the past two years, the island has embraced the blockchain and digital asset revolution—pioneering a robust, fit-for-purpose legal and regulatory framework to govern fintech businesses. Bermuda’s legislature passed landmark laws in 2018 to oversee initial coin offerings and digital asset businesses, as well as amending banking laws for a restricted licence to serve fintech companies. These moves demonstrated Bermuda’s fintech intentions and created a unique environment to prioritise regulatory certainty, investor confidence, and compliance with international Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering regulations. The result has been to attract the best-structured companies to Bermuda’s nascent fintech ecosystem. To help businesses get up and running quickly, Bermuda also introduced an expedited work-permit scheme to allow qualifying fintech companies to receive up to five work permits for immediate approval.


Bermuda’s growing submarine cable industry community provides the ideal platform to create a community of best practice within the industry. Industry leading companies, such as Southern Cross Cable Network and Australia-Japan Cable, already have head offices currently


based on the island and the Island is well served by a range of professional service providers highly experienced in submarine cable assets. Bermuda would also reap substantial benefits. Becoming a successful Atlantic hub for submarine cables helps further develop Bermuda’s enviable reputation as the jurisdiction of choice for a wide variety of industries, including asset management, risk solutions, and fintech. For those global businesses already based in Bermuda, the development of Bermuda as a ‘digital port’ is likely to feature significantly in their decision making about further on island investment. Submarine cable corridors have also been shown to become defacto environmental protection zones—such an outcome would align well with Bermuda’s long history of conservation and its ambitions to create a blue economy for the future. Bermuda is known for its Bermuda shorts, now you need to shortcut your strategy and think inside the triangle. To find out more about Bermuda’s initiative in the submarine cable industry and what this can mean for you whether you land in Bermuda or not , contact Kyle James at the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) at or 441 278 6560. STF Fiona Beck is Director of the Bermuda Business Development Agency and an experienced non-executive director, currently serving on the boards of several telecommunication and technology companies in Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Mauritius. She joined the BDA Board in 2016. Fiona is Deputy Chair of Bermuda telecommunication provider KeyTech and Chair of the telecommunications group of America’s Cup Bermuda Ltd, delivering key telecommunication requirements for the 2017 event. She has extensive links to the Bermuda telecommunication network and the global submarine fibre-optic industry, having served as past president and CEO of Southern Cross Cable Network, a multi-national telecommunication company providing Internet connectivity from Australia and New Zealand to the West Coast of the US. Fiona is also past president of Sub Optic, the industry body for the global submarine cable sector.

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ey to being a new-age telco is listening to what customers are saying. Worldwide, we are functioning in an age where customers are increasingly knowledgeable around technology and connectivity, with people in touch with what they need and want, which includes superior customer service. Despite its pivotal role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the connectivity sphere is no different from any other business sector when it comes to profitability challenges and a hyper-competitive environment. Yet, as with any industry, engaging with customers, listening and orientating business decisions towards their empowerment, returns dividends for all parties. As one of the leading private telcos operating on the African continent, SEACOM has adopted this approach to better serve local business customers with an appetite for high-quality connectivity – and the emerging technologies that hinge on it.


There’s no question that Africa is playing catch-up in the arena of telecoms, with longstanding infrastructure barriers to overcome, along with government attitudes that have been slow to warm to sector privatisation. That has


changed, though, over the past decade or so, with governments in countries like Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia prioritising ICT development and access to broadband Internet as a key enabler of socio-economic upliftment for their nations. With such positive developments and receptiveness to private investment, telcos are operating in a local environment rich in opportunity. As a result, providers’ strategy and moves regarding their own growth and investment decisions, can tap into this enthusiasm. Even better is to have measures in place already to meet demand as it emerges. Cloud comes to the continent, with localised providers For example, on 6 March this year, enterprise-grade Microsoft data centres finally launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town as Africa’s first Azure cloud regions. With media reports citing AWS plans for similar South African facilities in the first half of 2020, SEACOM took preparatory steps by expanding its national and continental footprint so that businesses in South Africa, and elsewhere on the continent, could enjoy the benefits of access to leading public cloud providers that now have local physical presences. This “setting up shop” in Africa, of course, has helped to

Africa) to the WACS cable (which falls at Yzerfontein, on the west coast of the country). This ensures fully redundant high-speed ring protection around the African continent – a benefit that SEACOM can pass on to African business customers demanding standard-setting reliability no matter what. For the record, SEACOM is the only African carrier to cover all five of the largest exchange points in Europe (London, Frankfort, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Marseille), in addition to Mumbai. A further point to note is that with providers starting to look beyond saturated metros for new markets, lighting up additional fibre across South Africa also creates a platform to deliver affordable, high-speed Internet connectivity and cloud services to traditionally-underserved mid-tier cities and towns along the new routes. This is as true for home users as business customers, and the trend is set to reflect across Africa, with fibre rollout naturally progressing from main centres to secondary cities, and then on to more remote areas as investors make back their initial outlay.



mitigate the security, territorial, latency and general compliance concerns that discouraged cloud adoption in the region in the past. And even for African businesses outside South Africa, connecting to data centres on the continent will still be faster and provide a more seamless experience than relying on computing power that is generated half a world away.


In a move that reflects the general trend in African telecoms towards the consolidation of fibre assets, SEACOM acquired South African connectivity provider FibreCo Telecommunications towards the end of 2018. FibreCo owned and operated a national open access dark fibre network which ran along South Africa’s highest-traffic transmission routes and connected over 60 points of presence across the country, including key data centres. The acquisition therefore further enabled SEACOM to scale and upgrade its “African Ring” by connecting its East and West coast submarine assets with a robust network of trans-South African fibre. The result is an end-to-end fibre that connects the SEACOM subsea cable system (which runs along the east coast of Africa and lands in Mtunzini, on the east coast of South


SEACOM’s system upgrades are not confined to South Africa either. In the greater African region, SEACOM has added seven other PoPs to enable more African businesses to connect to cloud facilities worldwide, as well as to the new continent-based Microsoft Azure data centres, and their soon-to-debut equivalents from other major cloud providers. The move has been accompanied by an upgrade of backhaul to include additional separate and resilient routes. In preparation for higher demand and expanded services to business customers in the region, SEACOM has plans for new open-access PoPs coming to Nairobi, Kenya and Kampala, Uganda. These will provide a direct on-ramp to the SEACOM network. Before that, though, SEACOM has extended its presence in the brand-new icolo data centre in Mombasa, which offers both IP/MPLS and transmission services. The significance of the full-service Mombasa PoP for the telecoms industry is that it is Kenya’s first open-access data centre. Rare in the region, in comparison to operator-owned data centres, this carrier-neutral facility (in addition to the impending Nairobi and Kampala centres) encourages competition in the local ICT sphere, helping to increase cloud-based service offerings for customers while driving down costs.


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FEATURE As we’re seeing, strengthening regional systems is necessary for the evolution of the market at a technical level, particularly with the increased demand for data owing to the growth in fibre-based connectivity and emergence of technologies such as 5G. However, strategic decisions around network expansion also provide a better experience for customers, from services to support. And the importance of convenience and flexibility for customers can never be understated. One case of this is digitally-enabled and automated self-service, providing customers with the power to manage their account at a time and location convenient to them. A further example of convenience that pleases the customer is a diversity of services from the same provider, turning them into a one-stop-shop for all their solution requirements – from connectivity to cloud. There will always be a space for specialist providers of all manner of services, but right now organisations in Africa, from SMEs right up to large multi-national corporates, place value in any ICT company that simplifies their cloud migration. For example, SEACOM’s PoPs are key to its direct access offerings, which bypass the public Internet in connecting company networks to digital business solutions, whether stemming from data centres in Africa, or cloud providers located in Europe. SEACOM’s subsea cable system, which connects East Africa to South Africa, Europe and Asia, offers a fibre express route that carries terabytes of capacity, with speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 100 Gbps. Forgetting for a second the global cloud providers, the opportunity for African businesses to leverage dedicated enterprise-standard services to connect directly and reliably to the local data centres will enable more companies on the continent to embrace the cloud in a compliant manner, and enhance their digital transformation. In addition to laying the foundation for explorations of artificial intelligence and edge computing in years to come – enabled by the elimination of lag inherent to long-distance data transfer – in the near future, locally-delivered Azure cloud services will be joined by popular everyday business tools like Office 365 and Dynamics 365.


New-age business is at its core about putting customers first and making every decision by considering their needs. When that comes to telcos, that may even mean partnering with competitors in the development of a new product or system, if necessary. Furthermore, for ICT companies promising greater fluidity in operations for their customers, pace-slowing rigidity is to be avoided in their operations at all costs. Customer experience should always be as easy and enjoyable as possible instead of introducing resistance. Investment and development of systems in the region should similarly be orientated towards the business user. On one level, such a future-minded, outward-looking approach helps to position SEACOM and other telcos as a partner to businesses across Africa, by thoroughly equipping them for competitive performance in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, aside from reputational (and hopefully profit!) advantages for the telecoms industry, there are more far-reaching repercussions too. Access to faster and more powerful processing on the African continent supports the development of African solutions, and reliable fibre-driven connectivity allows these homegrown solutions to reach markets worldwide. This way, African businesses are gaining access to new opportunities and appear as substantial social and economic contributors at a global level, shattering negative perceptions of the continent. It’s a fundamental shift that advances in connectivity systems in the region are making a reality. STF

African businesses are gaining access to new opportunities and appear as substantial social and economic contributors at a global level, shattering negative perceptions of the continent.


As Chief Commercial Officer at SEACOM, STEVE BRIGGS oversees sales performance, helps to optimise the product portfolio and drives superior customer experiences across the company’s commercial portfolio. Prior to joining SEACOM, Briggs was Executive Head: Online and Self Service Products and Operations at Vodacom. Briggs has more than a decade of experience in the telecoms sector, co-founding BizCall in 2005 (acquired by Vox Telecom in 2006) and ARC Telecoms in 2010 (acquired by Jasco Electronics in 2012). Ahead of joining Vodacom in 2014, Steve held several positions at Jasco Group, most recently serving as Managing Director of Jasco Enterprise Before moving into the telecoms industry, Steve held a range of senior positions at Standard Bank Group. He holds a B.Com (Economics) from University of Port Elizabeth, a B.Com Honours (Economics) from Unisa and an MBA from the University of the Witwatersrand.



facing cable and fiber manufacturers and system suppliith the increasing popularity of Space Division ers. For links around 250km we would expect to achieve Multiplexing (SDM) on repeatered systems, and around 18Tbps per fiber with standard fiber, and up to with new high fiber count transoceanic cables being 24Tbps by using more specialist fiber with a larger effeccontracted every month, it is worth reviewing how all this tive area. This aligns unrepeatered systems of this length traffic is carried within regions. Traditionally a mixture of small repeatered systems, unrepeatered festoons and point to with the per fiber capacity capabilities of their transocepoint links have been used, but how do we determine which anic counterparts, but what happens when we stretch the distance, moving design makes the most towards 350, 400 and economic sense and 450km? over what distances The graph below should we opt for one shows us that the solution over another? number of 100G’s an Historically unreunrepeatered system peatered links have can carry declines been used to connect exponentially after transoceanic systems 350km. This has often from one landing been the gating factor point to its neighfor system builders bour, and potentially who have then opted onwards in a festoon to install repeatered arrangement. UnFigure 1 Comparison of Capacity vs Unrepeatered System Length links for distances repeatered designs over 400km. We know that with the use of Remote Opoffer a low-cost solution and are often less complex than tically Pumped Amplifiers (ROPA) and powerful pre and creating large and complex powered systems with many branches. Unrepeatered systems do away with the need for post amplification we can make significant steps towards improving the capacity that can be carried – moving from power feeding equipment, repeaters and line monitoring equipment and can therefore utilise a different [more cost a handful of 100G channels at 400km, to 80 x 100G with a ROPA, and well over 100 x 100G by adding specialeffective] type of cable, making them attractive for parts ist fiber to the mix. On top of this, the high fiber count of the world where resources are limited. But they have offered by unrepeatered systems means they can now always been distance-limited, and that is the challenge JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107


Figure 2 Loose tube SAL unrepeatered cable, 192 fibers

more sense than apportioning specprovide much larger per cable trum or capacity within a fiber pair capacities over the 400 – 500km to a number of different customers. length range. From an economics perspective Over the last two decades we all know that marine operations unrepeatered cables have proare a hugely dominant factor in any gressed from industry standard project. Survey and installation costs fiber counts of around 24-48 to relate to the area of the work, the a staggering 192 fibers per cable. depth of burial required, the weather, Minor changes to qualified cable etc. etc. We can assume that if it will designs have resulted in vast be expensive to install a repeatered increases in the amount of data cable for a system, it would be simunrepeatered cables can carry. ilarly expensive to install an unreConsidering a fiber with 0.16dB/ peatered counterpart, although of km attenuation and 110µm2 efcourse you don’t have the additional fective area, a 450km unrepeatered time required to load, handle, deploy system installed with a ROPA and test the repeaters. can achieve ≈20 x 100G Putting marine and per fiber. If we installed terminal equipment aside a 96 fiber pair system we for a moment and considwould have approximately ering the cost per Tbps for 200Tbps of capacity availsubmerged hardware alone, able, which means that a it is very interesting to look regional festoon of disat the economic relationship tances up to 450km could between the two types of easily support the onward system over various cacapacity requirements of a ble lengths. Studying the transoceanic system offerrelative cost per Tbps as ing 20Tbps per fiber pair. the length of your system Not only is the unrepeatFigure 3 Example 72Tbps comparison of hardware costs repeatered vs. unrepeatered cable increases and determining ered market ‘keeping up’ the best point at which it is with its repeatered sibling on a capacity level, it has also become more attractive over more economic to move between unrepeatered and repeatered solutions can be very useful at the early stage of a longer distances than ever before. Unrepeatered systems are also often a wise choice for own- project. Obviously, the results vary greatly depending on the ers looking simply to sell dark fiber pairs and not get involved amount of capacity you need for the system and hence the in equipping and managing a network and selling capacity. In number of fibers you plan to install. The graph below shows the difference in the relative cost the regional market a business case based on an economic sale per Tbps for unrepeatered vs. repeatered, from a hardware of whole fiber pairs to individual customers can make much

Unrepeatered systems are also often a wise choice for owners looking simply to sell dark fiber pairs and not get involved in equipping and managing a network and selling capacity.


Figure 4 Submarine cable parts for integration, available with 12-96 fibers

perspective alone, for the example of a system carrying a total capacity of 72Tbps. What we see quite clearly is that for distances up to 420km the unrepeatered solution is the obvious choice, but as we move closer to 450km, where there is a need for more specialist fiber, the situation flips and the repeatered design has a lower cost per bit. We have seen that for this example of a 72Tbps system, for distances up to around 420km an unrepeatered design is the obvious choice but moving upwards towards 500km there may also be customers who are actively seeking to avoid repeaters. One good example of this is the power industry where fiber optic cables are often installed with the power cable or as separate outriders for telemetry purposes. Repeaters placed within close proximity of power cables have always given owners concern, complicating installation works, risking electrical interference and convoluting maintenance. Oil and gas platform connectivity is another area where repeaters pose concerns and owners will not need a huge amount of capacity, hence the cost per bit is not their driver, and they can install unrepeatered systems over distances of around 450km, 460, 470km for less total capex than the repeatered alternative and still meet their objective capacity wise. In addition to repeater placement and proximity, the oil and gas industry also has genuine concerns about bringing powered cables up onto the platforms and hence unrepeatered festoon designs are typically adopted. For specific cases with a higher requirement for bandwidth (perhaps when the route via the platforms is also going to be used for commercial traffic) then a trunk and branch design can work equally well, utilising powered cable on the trunk and unrepeatered cable on the branches to the platforms. There has been a lot of focus in the market on repeatered technology development, primarily because of the hyperscalers, who are driving the global thirst for capacity and building networks to connect their data centers sited oceans apart. But there will always be a requirement for regional connectivity to support these new systems, and

there is a clear economic and technical boundary below which an unrepeatered solution is the best choice. In fact, this boundary is not sharp but is determined by the architecture, the region, the customer’s capacity needs and other factors. Technological developments in unrepeatered systems have shifted this boundary significantly and broadened the range of applications suitable for the use of unrepeatered or passive cable systems - power to the unpowered! STF ANDERS LJUNG is today Business Manager Submarine Cable Solutions at Hexatronic in Hudiksvall, Sweden. Anders holds an MSc in Polymer Mechanics. Anders have been employed for 27 years in the fiber optic cable industry. More than twenty of these years he was in Ericsson’s organization where he held several manager positions within sales, project management and manufacturing of fiber optic submarine cables. When Hexatronic acquired Ericsson’s telecom cable plant in 2013 Anders was employed to his current position with a worldwide responsibility for Hexatronic’s fiber optic submarine cable portfolio. TONY FRISCH 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. 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. LYNSEY THOMAS is an independent subsea consultant. Having been involved with the international telecommunications industry since 1995 Lynsey’s previous roles include VP Global Sales for Xtera, Director of operations for Apollo SCS Ltd and Department Head for the Cable & Wireless Submarine Systems Engineering team. During her time at C&W Lynsey worked on the Europe India Gateway system, leading the CWG and co-chairing the PG from conception through to contract. Having worked worldwide as a Supplier, Customer, Operator and Consultant she has an extensive knowledge of the telecoms market. Lynsey has served as a Trustee in the Renewables Sector and is a freelance writer and previous columnist for The Guardian. Lynsey holds a Masters Degree in Engineering Science from Oxford University.

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Talking Technology Trends with EllaLink Group’s CEO


hilippe Dumont is the CEO of EllaLink and has over 20 years of international experience as a CEO in the Telecoms industry on both the supplier and customer side, as well as working closely with infrastructure funds. He was previously the President & CEO of ASN (Alcatel Submarine Networks) after holding several executive positions inside Alcatel-Lucent. Philippe has an engineering degree from the Arts & Metiers (ENSAM) and an MBA from Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) in Paris.


You were first involved with the EllaLink project on the supply side. How did your perspective change when you moved onto the operator side? After spending many years as a supplier, I would say that one of the major differences is related to the project focus. On the supply side, a large amount of effort is spent, often over an extended period, to assist the customer in development of a system design that meets their specific requirements. Once the supply contract is signed it’s over to the supplier to manufacture and implement the system as per the design. On the customer side, the main focus is on the long-



term strategy of the business as a whole which requires a keen understanding of the current market and how it will grow over the life of the system. It is not simply a case of conceiving and deploying a system but also making sure that it will meet the end-users’ demands over time, and that its evolution, both in terms of extension and upgrade, are taken into account from day one.


Construction of the EllaLink submarine cable system is advancing – what were the key challenges upfront and what are the main activities completed to date? It is no secret that project financing is the basic requirement for getting submarine cable projects off the ground and that funding has become more complex over recent years. There is a subtle equilibrium to be achieved between pre-sales, which are key for obtaining financing and demonstrating to potential investors that your project is worthy of their funds. EllaLink has proven to be a valid and future-proof investment for its anchor tenants by both reinforcing and diversifying their existing telecom infrastructures. So far, we have secured and surveyed landings in Portugal, Madeira, Cabo Verde and Brazil. Manufacturing activi-

ties have commenced, the marine survey is underway, and the project is on schedule for ready for service by the end of 2020.


What makes EllaLink unique as a system? Four main factors make the EllaLink system unique. We offer customers a safe route between Europe and Latin America, the system is buried and armored to protect it from external damage, with the majority of the cable in the safer deep water. Secondly, EllaLink provides fast direct access between PoPs in Europe and Latin America via a shorter, new and unique path. The system has been specifically designed to offer reduced latency between major hubs in Sao Paulo, Lisbon/Sines, Madrid and Marseille. Improvements in Round Trip Delay of up to 50% are possible between Madrid and São Paulo. Our route offers geographic diversity from existing transatlantic systems and provides customers with an alternative path between the two continents, both on the submarine section and on land. Moreover, the diverse terrestrial routes to São Paulo, Madrid and Marseille offer protection and ensure high end-to-end system availability. Last but not least, EllaLink is a privately funded and independent company committed to providing products and services on a carrier neutral, open access and independent basis. Our neutrality ensures that our interests are entirely aligned with that of our customers.


The system will land in Sines, can you elaborate on what made EllaLink select this site? Portugal has become, over the years, a major hub for subsea cable systems and its government is seeking to actively reinforce the country’s broadband develop-

ment. Building on this, one of the main considerations taken during the system development phase was to avoid congested areas. Geographically Sines meets that requirement, offering diversity from existing systems, and thus providing the opportunity to diversify routes and increase redundancy. In Sines we are constructing a new cable landing station which will be in an area perfect for data center expansion. Additionally, the area is a key node for the Portuguese high voltage grid, thus providing diverse and readily available power lines, which will be complemented by solar plants under development to provide green power. In addition to Sines, the other landings are Fortaleza, Madeira, where our anchor customer EMACOM will supply the CLS and fronthaul and similarly in Cabo Verde with Cabo Verde Telecom.


What are the next steps in terms of construction, operations and connectivity? The next steps for the project build are completion of the Brazilian marine survey, which is due to start in August this year, construction works for new CLS in Sines, manufacturing and then installation operations. Backhaul connections will be lit to complete the end to end EllaLink network from Madrid, Marseille and Lisbon to Fortaleza and São Paulo. We are braced and ready for the next phase of the project when the system goes live at the end of next year. STF

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ystem development is a trial from concept to commissioning, typically taking anywhere from 18-24 months During this time, the system developer will clear a number of typical milestones that will pave the way for system installation and ultimately its full commissioning. There are many quantifiable factors that help determine whether or not a planned system enters service. Using a comprehensive data set coupled with refined statistical analysis, it is possible to develop a predictive model to determine the probability over time of a given system developer’s chance of success. To develop such a model, we have identified several key factors to determine historical trends. After these trends have been identified, it is then possible to predict the relative success of system development. We identified three primary time-based values that will ultimately determine the system developer’s success: • Time from announcement to Contract-In-Force (CIF) • Time from CIF to start of Marine Route Survey • Time from start of Marine Route Survey to start of Manufacturing




It is typically believed that once a system is Contractin-Force (CIF), it possesses all the financing it needs to design, manufacture, install and commission a submarine cable system. But recent practice has also shown that financing is provided in stages and few “blank checks” are offered at the outset of a system development. Assuming there are five gates in the financing of a system, namely initial announcement of system, CIF, start of marine route survey, start of manufacturing and commissioning / Ready

for Service (RFS), a conceptual model to determine the probability of success in developing a submarine cable system is as follows:


The following methodology was applied in developing a predictive model: 1. Using the SubTel Forum Cable Database, data was compiled for submarine cable systems (Name, RFS) for RFS years of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, including cable systems that failed to mature and become reality. 2. Using the SubTel Forum website search feature, the applicable system within chosen RFS years were searched and first dates registered were noted for each of the following notices: • Initial Announcement of system • CIF • Start of Marine Route Survey • Start of Manufacturing • End of Commissioning / RFS 3. The applicable number of days were then calculated in these corresponding fields. 4. For those fields without a date, they were logically addressed as necessary to maintain the model, but also noted within the data table. 5. A predictive model was created from the table of data using a probability breakdown showing X percent of systems achieve CIF if they are announced publicly and then Y percent make it to the next stage.

cable database and newsfeed. The following formula calculates the probability (y) of making it to each phase (concept (x=0), project announcement (x=1), CIF (x=2), survey (x=3), manufacturing (x=4), commissioning (x=5)). This formula is 99.6% accurate (R value) for the currently available data set.


Using this predictive model one can determine the probability of success for a developing submarine cable system over the life of its execution. The following results were realized using this predictive model:


Using the Srivastava method and in order to understand the strategic areas to be considered in the model, the process of predictive analysis was divided into four parts: (Srivastava, 2015) 1. 2. 3. 4.

Descriptive Analysis Data Treatment Data Modelling Estimation of Performance As such, a predictive model was created with the data gathered from the submarine JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107


FEATURE • 52.2% of planned cable systems can be expected to achieve CIF • Once CIF is reached, it is nearly guaranteed for a planned system to reach the RFS stage • Marine surveys sometimes begin/complete before an official CIF announcement • OTT driven systems typically roll announcement, CIF and manufacturing into a single announcement – though more data is required to determine this conclusion with confidence • The following average times to reach the start of each phase were observed: • Announcement to CIF – 393 days • CIF to Survey – 159 days • Survey to Manufacturing – 381 days • Manufacturing to RFS – 559


So, you want to build a cable system, how good are your odds? Going from the raw, ambiguous data, you have roughly the same odds as guessing “heads or tails” when flipping a coin. Obviously, every cable system is different, and the world is a big place with demands that extend well beyond raw data taken out of context. The most important take-away from this research effort is the average time between phases and how a developer unfamiliar with the innerworkings of our industry might estimate their milestones. Taking an aggregated statistical approach through a predictive model is a rough, first step. A predictive model can determine the probability of success in a developing submarine cable system over the life of its execution. A “scoring” of a system over its execution life allows for a better understanding of its likelihood of successful completion. As such, systems can be scored, compared and analyzed. This first attempt at modeling probability highlighted the need for additional datapoints to more accurately track probability leading up to the CIF stage. Knowing the number of days spent negotiating for all projects that do not achieve CIF would allow for development of a formula showing the risk of not securing funding week by week or month by month.



Further, a formula could potentially be derived to forecast how long each project phase will take based on relative project size. In short, a fully developed model will allow analysts to track various project milestones, as well as accurately predict over time whether a submarine cable system will enter service or not. Additionally, while “blank checks” for the entirety of a system are no longer the norm, those systems that do achieve the CIF milestone will reach RFS nearly 100% of the time. Determining whether this is simply a result of more stringent financing standards, better project oversight or CIF being the only true hurdle requires further data gathering and modeling. Cooperation of third parties – especially cable owners and financiers – will be necessary in order to gather accurate data to expand upon and refine the initial predictive model. Such a tool would be of great potential value to both an investor when deciding whether to invest in a certain project or to a cable developer looking to avoid or mitigate potential project roadblocks. However, much of the data required for further development of the predictive model is generally considered sensitive and confidential by normal industry standards. STF KIERAN CLARK is the Lead Analyst for STF Analytics, a division of Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc. He originally joined SubTel Forum in 2013 as a Broadcast Technician to provide support for live event video streaming. He has 6+ years of live production experience and has worked alongside some of the premier organizations in video web streaming. In 2014, Kieran was promoted to Analyst and is currently responsible for the research and maintenance that supports the STF Analytics Submarine Cable Database. In 2016, he was promoted to Lead Analyst and put in charge of the newly created STF Analytics. His analysis is featured in almost the entire array of SubTel Forum publications. References Srivastava, T. (2015, September 18). Perfect way to build a Predictive Model in less than 10 minutes. Retrieved from Analytics Vidhya: perfect-build-predictive-model-10-minutes/'



Then Versus Now





So, I set to it: is there really a connection between the few months ago, I began an effort to identify factors factors leading up to the crash of the 2000s to the condileading up to and contributing to the crash our intions we see in the market today? dustry felt in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The idea For the purpose of this article, the time periods will be started with a statement a colleague made to me during our separated in to two distinct categories: Pre-Crash (1995annual Mai Tai Reception in Honolulu during PTC. We were catching up on the last few months, on the state of the 2001) and Current History (2010-2018). industry and where we thought things were headed. Our conversation, as most I’m sure do, steered towards THEN the extraordinary boom we’re experiencing at the moment. In the 1980s, optical submarine cable systems were We’re busy. We’re very busy. Installers are flat out; cable developed. The first transoceanic fiber optic system was the manufacturers are running at capacity and it feels like transatlantic, TAT-8, which was ready for service in 1988. there’s a new system announced every few weeks. Telecommunications with high quality and high capacity Physics demands that what goes up, must come down and there is no such tide table in the world that remains high indefinitely. There’s no way that this feverish level of building will continue forever, which prompted the comment that really got me thinking “Doesn’t this all feel familiar?” I inferred that my colleague had drawn a parallel between the build rate we see today to the boom that was seen in the Dot Com bubble of the 1990s. The unspoken fear being that the crash felt thereafter could be repeated in today’s market. Obviously concern about another down cycle is warranted, but will it be as devastating as it was 18 years ago? As a publisher and data hound, I always love these kinds of conversations; sometimes there’s no spreadsheet or dataset that can compete with someone’s intuition. Figure 1: Systems RFS by Year JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107


FEATURE became possible, and optical submarine cable networks were extended all over the world. The first generation of optical systems regenerated the optical signal within the submerged repeaters. In the mid-90s regenerators were replaced by optical amplifiers, which allowed the simultaneous transmission of more than one wavelength. Currently, the main method for international telecommunications is the use of submarine cables; 99 percent of international telecommunications is carried over submarine cables. The 1990s were a period best characterized by steady, sustained growth and technological advancement. The typical system development time was roughly 18-24 months from conception. As seen by the alternating pattern in figure 1, every other year saw systems ready for service in leaps. The first signs of system stagnation started in 2001, which represents the edge of the proverbial cliff for the submarine cable telecoms market. The Submarine Telecoms Forum Magazine premiered in late 2001, and the very second issue addressed the coming storm. “Although the three-year period leading up to 2002 saw the highest levels of investment in undersea cable systems ever, 2001 proved to be a major disappointment for the industry, and was marked by massive layoffs, downsizing, devaluation, and bankruptcy. Consequently, the undersea cable industry enters 2002 with bated breath and low expectations.”

In regard to financing, the author offered a prediction in system financing based on the economic realities in 2002. Published in Submarine Telecoms Forum, Issue 2. Because of the great lack of news sources prior to 2001, conversations about the health of the industry were held to board meetings, personal conversations, industry conferences and paid reports – specifically, situations where the contents of the discussion were limited between the parties having the conversation. This article, published in Issue 2 of the STF magazine, stated in no uncertain terms the trials that the submarine cable industry was about to face, that the industry must be prepared for a very lean period. As compared to what the industry experienced, the predictions were overly optimistic; it was the hope that regular investment would return in 2004 and build to between $7.5B to $10B on average until 2010.


With what began as a market decline during the Dot Com bubble bursting throughout most of 2000, was solidified with the terrorist attacks visited on New York in 2001. When the dust had settled in 2002, the Dot Com bubble wiped nearly $5 Trillion in market value from the US Stock Exchange, a large portion of which was supported by telecoms sector applications ranging from hardware manufacturers to software and carrier providers. The submarine cable market sometimes feels insulated from the woes of the global economy because of the perception that the demand drivers for system development exist outside of the regular ebb and flow the global economy experiences. In 2001, the first signs of the global economy affecting the niche telecoms markets was seen: financing became harder to come by and regional carriers began to address more realistic capacity demand growth.



Figure 2: Forecast of Worldwide Undersea Cable Investment by Ready-for-Service Date, 2001-2010.

Figure 3:System Investment, 1990-2018. Published in Submarine Telecoms Industry Report, 2018-2019 Edition.

In reality, it will take the industry until 2006 to see even above a $1B per year investment rate, and until 2009 to see anything on par with the invest level of 2002.


As with the mid-1990s, the submarine cable industry is atwitter with new projects, huge growth demand and new entrants to the market. The last three years, specifically, have been a time of great expansion, suppliers and installers working at near capacity to deliver the systems in development.


networks. Datacenter providers, Equinix, Digital Realty Trust and Interxion, will continue to benefit from submarine cable construction activity. The dramatic growth in demand is creating significant challenges for telecommunications companies, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and OTT Providers. The top segment of many markets is becoming dominated by large OTT players, such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. These have become key stakeholders and require large amounts of bandwidth between their datacenters in various continents. Datacenter and OTT providers were the driving force behind 43 percent of systems that went into service for the period 2016-2018. For the period 2019-2021, 40 percent of planned systems are being driven by datacenter and OTT providers. This indicates that currently observed levels of datacenter and OTT driven systems will continue. As systems driven

Further differentiating Then vs. Now, the ownership and financing models have seen a surge in private and bank investment as compared to the typical model pre-crash. Before 2001, the vast majority of systems were financed directly by the planners and consortia that needed the system, a direct financing model that was driven by personal investment and returns through either capacity pre-sales or a wholesale partner. With the new wave of owners, and with a substantially different global economy, owners are seeking different investment models, defraying their risk with Multilateral Development Banks (MDB), yet another entrant to the submarine cable market. MDBs, such as the World Bank and its affiliates are increasingly willing to promote communications infrastructure and to lend in high-risk circumstances where commercial banks will not. MDB interest rates are typically lower than commercial financings and have a more lenient approach to waivers and default Figure 4: Systems RFS by Year, 2010-2018 scenarios. However, social policy and development goals of those institutions can often impose additional reporting and compliance costs.


A new paradigm emerged in 2016, with datacenter and OTT providers stepping into the world of submarine cable ownership. Many of these companies have such large and complex infrastructure requirements that it has become more valuable for them to own their own cable systems rather than buy capacity from a carrier. Since 1999, Equinix, for instance, has spent some $17 billion in capital on building capacity and server infrastructure to store data and connect with partners, cloud providers and

Figure 5: Financing by Year, 1995-2001

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FEATURE by major datacenter and OTT providers have a much greater chance of being implemented – due to the high financing threshold of these companies – expect this percentage to increase as new cables are announced, and other projects die off. Without these kinds of backers, future systems will have a much harder time proving their business case and securing funding. While the top tier datacenter and OTT providers are continuing to develop new systems, there are numerous other companies in this part of the Information Technology sector. A second wave of these companies may Figure 6: Financing by Year, 2010-2018 decide they need similar infrastructure plans and follow in the footsteps of their respective market leaders. This could trigger a second wave of dataeducational resources, the effects of the next downturn. center and OTT driven systems and allow the submarine While it would be nice to end with conclusions and fiber market to continue enjoying its current level of activi- firmness, the future is no more certain than the predictions ty even after the top tier providers begin to reach the end of written in Issue 2 of the Submarine Telecoms Forum magtheir infrastructure buildout plans. azine discussed earlier. Publicly Available Education and Analysis Instead, this article is concluded with a hope that the When I started digging around to find detailed inforpublic discourse, accessible data, burgeoning educational mation about the crash, factors leading up to it and even opportunities and a recent invigoration to address the marcontext, I was surprised at how little was available. Even ket climate is enough to blunt even the harshest downturn, more so, when I was looking for publications on the topic whenever it may be. STF from the time period, I kept coming back to SubTel Forum. KRISTIAN NIELSEN is an avid Scuba diver, Vice President of Obviously, citing yourself is a tricky way to do any kind Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc. and Project Engineer at of meaningful research, but then I was struck with a more WFN Strategies. He is a Project Management Professional (PMP™) and ISO 9001:2015 specialist and possesses more profound thought: I keep seeing the same names. The than 10 years’ experience and knowledge in submarine cable authors index for Issue 2 of the SubTel Forum Magazine systems, including Arctic and offshore Oil & Gas submarine could have been written today for who was listed there. fiber systems. As Project Engineer, he supports the Projects Manager and reviews subcontracts and monitors the prime I’m a legacy entrant to this industry, I’ve been around contractor, supplier, and is astute with Change Order process and management. some of you, and you know who you are, my entire life. As He is responsible for contract administration, as well as supports financial such, I believe that education and expertise level are two of monitoring and in-field logistics. He possesses Client Representative experience in submarine cable load-out, installation and landing stations, extensive the greatest dividing factors in the industry. project logistics and engineering support, extensive background in administraThere’s no real specific skill set or identifiable program to tive and commercial support and is an expert in due diligence. fast track employment here; most individuals “wind up” in REFERENCES this industry, find themselves here after an apprenticeship or, fewer still, are legacies of their parents, having grown up [1] Gerstell, G. S. (2008, March). SubTel Forum. Retrieved from Financings of Submarine Fiber Optic Networks: The Building Boom and the Need for Financing: around the business of cables. Simply put, the industry still articles/products/magazine/ lacks specific and accessible education opportunities and [2] Ruddy, M. (2002, First Quarter). Submarine Telecoms Forum Magazine. Searching for a outreach to a new generation of cable engineers, marketers Light in the Fog: Is There a Future for the Troubled Submarine Cable Industry? P.11-18 and innovators. [3] Clark, K. (2018, October) Submarine Cable Industry Report


What’s the point of it all? Disruptive market forces, coupled with economic and geopolitical uncertainty threaten this industry again, but with accessible data and ample



[4] Feature. (2001, Fourth Quarter) Submarine Telecoms Forum Magazine. [5] Gaither C. & Chmielewski D. (2006, July). LA Times. Fears of Dot-Com Crash, Version 2.0.


Backed by industry-leading Submarine Cable Database Spotlighting 10G/100G Monthly Lease and 100G IRU pricing Detailed pricing analysis on major cable routes Route "Benchmarking" to communicate route health Signature analysis




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Intern PUB DATE:2015 December 2015 Internet and broadband services with:PUB DATE: December detailed explanation of detailed explanation of all technical aspects of undersea communications systems, with an detailed exp LIST PRICE: $195.00/ LIST PRICE: $195.00/ optical technology for 100Gbit/s channels orThis above emphasis onemphasis the•mostC emphasis on the•mostCoherent recent breakthroughs of optical submarine cable technologies. fully or £120.00/€140.00 £120.00/€140.00 updated new edition is updated new edition is theplant best resource demystifying enabling optical technologies, updated • ne W • Wet optical for networking and configurability FORMAT: Paperback FORMAT: Paperback operations equipment, operations, up to marine installations, and is an essential reference for those in contactequipment, equipment, • Provid• • Provides a full overview of the evolution of the field conveys the PAGES: 702PAGES: 702 with this field. with this field. with this fie strate strategic importance of large undersea projects with: AUDIENCE: AUDIENCE:

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Undersea Fiber Communication Systems, 2e EDITED BY JOSÉ CHESNOY

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alentia Island situated on the south west coast of Ireland is not so much remote but is was still far from the cities and centres of industrialisation. Its link to the Irish mainland was via a boat service that was run by and served the local population. The largest town was Knightstown and the population relatively small with comparison to the size of the island. Life here was slow and the only industrialised production on the island was the slate quarry that was opened in 1816 and owned by the Knight of Kerry, in 1866 the present Knight of Kerry Sir Peter Fitzgerald, 19th Knight of Kerry, 1st Baron of Valencia, (18081880) did not know that his desire, along with many others such as Cyrus Field and William Thompson (Lord Kevin), to connect Valentia to Heart’s Content in Canada and to connect the old world with the new by the use of a new technology, the telegraph was about to become a reality. Heart’s Content is a small fishing village situated on the east coast of Canada on the island of Newfoundland, which is the closest American landmass to Europe and a place well known and settled by Irish emigrants escaping the hard agricultural and



Heart’s Content and Trinity Bay (


tenant lifestyle looking for a new start. It too had found itself in the limelight with regards to the important role it was to play in the communication revolution that was the telegraph. By the 1860, large parts of Europe, America and the British Isles were already connected to and criss-crossed by telegraph lines and submarine cables, the missing link was the connection between Europe and America which could only be conquered if a successful telegraph submarine cable could be laid between Valentia Island and Heart’s Content, as these two places were identified as the closest points and shortest link to make to connection. Newfoundland was already connected to mainland Canada by a telegraph cable across Cabot straight while Ireland had multiple connections to Great Britain across the Irish Sea which in turn linked Ireland to Europe and so the final connection, westwards, was missing and so after three unsuccessful attempts and one attempt where connectivity was made but only lasted a short time after electrical failure; this was about to change. Trinity Bay, an inlet on the coast of Newfoundland was the scene of a new engineering milestone in the history of communications. 27th July 1866 was a cold damp Friday morning and the sun was just about to appear above the eastern horizon. The sea was calm and the air was full with a silent eerie stillness. Out of the eerie darkness through the fog and mist that permeated the coastline of Newfoundland and especially the sheltered bays and inlets, appeared the

Left: Submarine Telegraph cables across the Irish Sea to Britain in the 1800s Bottom: The SS Great Eastern at station (

biggest and most awe inspiring ship of that time. The Steam Ship (SS) Great Eastern, designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, appeared in all its glory, she was nearly 213 m long and 25 m wide. With her five large funnels and masts punching their way through the carpet of sea mist and fog, followed by the bow and then the main hull of the ship and with its silent approach at just 2 knots, would have put the fear of God into any sea faring person who was on the sea at that time. The bays and inlets around Newfoundland were notorious for sudden emergence of sea mist and fog which would reduce visibility to virtually

nothing. Heart’s Content, was such a place, a remote town on the edge of nowhere looking out to a bay that was the last protection before the huge expanse of the deep Atlantic Ocean. This small fishing town, on the edge of Newfoundland and a link to the Americas, was ready to step into the history books and be remembered for time immemorial, but only if the delivery of a physical link to the old country, being carried by the powerful SS Great Eastern could be landed installed and tested by telegraph operators from the Anglo-American Telegraph Co. It was a year of engineering achievements which included DynaJULY 2019 | ISSUE 107



mite, the Tin-Can with opening key and the Torpedo. However, something else was about to happen on this crisp cold summer morning. The shoreline of Heart’s Content was full of anxious, nervous and yet very excited people who were all focused on one thing; taking the Trans–Atlantic Telegraph Cable shore end from the SS Great Eastern and carefully manoeuvring it towards the shoreline so that it would make the final connection to the Heart’s Content Cable Station. This new telegraph cable was designed to create a continuous link between Canada and Ireland, a link across the Atlantic Ocean, just like a

rope pulling two enormous immovable objects together, this telegraph cable would link the continents of America and Europe, the new world connecting to the old world. However, this was not the full story of this engineering feat. In 1857 and 1858 there were three attempts to complete this same task with one succeeding in August 1858 but failing just over a month later. Another attempt was carried out in July 1865 and 1,062 miles from Valentia the cable broke away from the SS Great Eastern and it was lost to the deep. Navigation points were taken and the SS Great Eastern’s First Officer,

The SS Great Eastern and escorts (




Robert Halpin a Wicklow man and SS Great Eastern’s First Officer, insisted that this be noted accordingly in both logbooks and the cable record book to make sure that the exact location was correctly identified. The failure of the 1865 expedition to lay a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable was not the end of the story, Cyrus Field along with many companions and business partners decided to try again and in 1866 the fifth expedition to lay the trans-Atlantic cable was undertaken. With a new cable designed and manufactured by the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co. (TELCON) of London, on

the Isle of Dogs. New expedition was launched and Cyrus Field along with the Knight of Kerry, who had sponsored the exhibition by donating the land and access for the telegraph to come ashore at Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island. Learning from the previous year’s failure the new cable was designed with strengths in mind, new lifting and laying equipment were designed and fitted to the SS Great Eastern and the crew were better trained and more experienced with their roles and responsibilities. 15 days before the SS Great Eastern finally sailed into Trinity Bay, she lay at Berehaven, Bantry Bay, being loaded with supplies for the long journey to Canada. Thursday 12th July 1866 was a calm warm evening and at 6.30pm the SS Great Eastern with her five engines running on idle, getting ready to apply their power and feed energy to the two paddle wheels and the single propeller, the First Officer Robert Halpin gave the order to get underway. As the great ship started her journey to Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island, he knew this expedition needed to succeed and with a new cable and experienced crew on board he had no doubt. The SS Great Eastern had four other people onboard who would, by their experience, enable the expedition to be successful. They were the very experienced Navigator Henry Moriarty, Chief Engineer Samuel Canning, the Chief Electrician Willoughby Smith and consultant William Thomson (1st Baron Kelvin). On the same day, the 12th July the shore end of the 1866 trans-Atlantic cable was connected to the cable sta-

Grapple Hook used for the retrieval of the 1865 trans-Atlantic Cable (

tion at Telegraph Field on the south western end of Valentia Island, laid out to Foilhommerum Bay and out to the ship that would connect the cable to the main trans-Atlantic cable, the SS Great Eastern. On the morning of the 13th July, the weather was dry and the coast line was lettered with people and onlookers as they witnessed the shore end of the trans-Atlantic cable being taken on board the SS Great Eastern and then with a huge applause, an air of excitement and jubilation and a sense of “we have seen this twice before”, the huge vessel set sail into the horizon and into history. The Knight of Kerry had summoned the local population and political and Aristocracy to witness the event and be part of the celebrations. This was the start of the fifth expedition and third expedition to take the shore end from the coast of Ireland, so to use the phrase “3rd time

lucky”. The SS Great Eastern sailed along a predetermined route but hoped to closely match the previous year’s cable route but keeping a small distance so as to keep the two cables apart. On the 24th July the SS Great Eastern, at 64 miles distant, past the spot where the 1865 trans-Atlantic cable had been lost to the deep. She kept on sailing towards her destination, at a slow speed continuously paying out the new strengthened 1866 trans-Atlantic cable, making sure it was paid out slowing and reaching the seabed, 2 miles down, without undue tensional force. It was on the evening on the 26th July, with the Newfoundland coastline in sight and with a shepherd’s sky lighting up the evening sky, that the announcement was made by the First Officer Robert Halpin that end was near. He told the crew that they were nearing their final destination and JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107



if successful would then depart and complete another task that has never been successfully completed before, the recovery of the 1865 trans-Atlantic Cable from the ocean’s depths. However, no celebrations were allowed until the full expedition was completed successfully. The next day the SS Great Eastern, guided by the experienced hand of Navigator Henry Moriarty, steamed at a slow speed into Trinity bay. It was still dark and yet all hands were on deck, the crew were up and actively trying not to miss a minute of this momentous occasion. The misty dawn beckoned and as the huge ship was guided towards Heart’s Content, the small village that would become a huge name in telecommunications came into view. The crew were all on tender hooks full of apprehension and trepidation, by late morning of the 27th July the cable was landed and was being connected to the cable station that was built to connect this new trans-Atlantic cable between Heart’s Content to Valentia in Ireland. The morning of the 27th July, 1866, was calm and misty when you consider the weather but when you consider technology and engineering evolution it was a time of enormous change, as the final connection was made, it was about 11.30am in the morning and the sky was still bright with an orange glow that seemed to be beckoning a new era in communication. As the final splice was made and the connection was established it was agreed that Cyrus Field, who with so many other Irish, American and British backers and idealists believed that this




Photo of the 1858, 1865 and 1866 submarine cables with shore-ends (

would work, was given the prestigious honour of sending a message to New York, his home town transmitting the following “Heart’s Content, July 27 – we arrived here at nine o’clock this [Field, Henry M. 1893. “The Story of the Atlantic Telegraph.” p. 344.] After that initial message by Cyrus Field, telegraph operators sent a telegraph message from Heart’s Content to Valentia at 11.30am to establish communications and test the cable. On the 28th July it was confirmed that the cable installation and the overall expedition was successful and it needed monitoring for a number of days to make sure that all the technological and engineering enhancements had

actually been successful in creating a long lasting link between the old and new worlds. With the 1866 trans-Atlantic cable landed and connected it was agreed that the expedition would set out towards the spot where the 1865 cable was lost 600 miles to the east on the ocean floor. On the 1st August the SS Albany and HMS Terrible both left Trinity Bay and headed out towards the spot where the 1865 cable was lost and the on the 9th August, after getting fresh supplies and refueling, the SS Great Eastern and the SS Medway set out to join up with HMS Terrible and SS Albany. They arrived on the site

recorded a year earlier and after three weeks and 30 attempts to grapple the cable from the depth they succeeded in grappling it. After doing multiple grapples and suspending the cable off the seabed and supported by buoys the SS Great Eastern lifted the cable and on the 2nd September the 1865 cable was now spliced to spare cable on board and after making calculations and arrangements the fleet set out to Heart’s Content for the second time. On the 7th September the 1865 trans-Atlantic cable was landed at Heart’s content and soon afterwards transmission to Valentia was now being done over two cables. These two cables had another association with Ireland other than Valentia Island, they were both insulated by Gutta Percha which was the prime insulator used in all submarine cables up until the 1920s. This type of insulation design and its extruding method was designed by Henry Bewley, a Dublin Chemist, and Walter Hancock in 1845 and finally produced in 1848, after Bewley patented the idea that the rubber could be used for insulation. 1866 was a year of incredible feats of engineering and with two telegraph cables now laid across the Atlantic and both working at 8 words a minute, something seen as a high speed across such a huge distance. The Valentia Island Cable Station operated by the Anglo-American Telegraph Company and its first Superintendent was James Graves, who was the superintendent from 1866 to 1909, the longest serving superintendent across any submarine telegraph cable station. It must be noted that the 1858,

On the 7th September the 1865 trans-Atlantic cable was landed at Heart’s content and soon afterwards transmission to Valentia was now being done over two cables. 1865 and 1866 cables, seen in the photo below, all share the same design and this design can be seen in the new submarine cables today and ever since as no real change, other than metals, insulation of transmission medium have changed but the overall design has been kept the same. However, that was not the end of the story, from the 1870s right up to the 1920’s submarine cables were still being laid across the Atlantic Ocean from Valentia Island and two other cable stations, Waterville and Ballinskelligs. These three cable stations helped to make the west coast of Ireland the most strategic part of the British Empire’s Telegraph system called the Red Line as more cables landed in one small spot compared to any other point around the globe. However, after 1922 there was a requirement to move away from Ireland. However there seems to be a reversal in design as new high speed optical submarine cables have landed again and now a new next generation in communication connectivity

between Ireland, Europe and the US has begun a new lease of life. This year we see the 153th anniversary of the 1866 trans-Atlantic cable with a festival taking place in Valentia from the 12thth to 14th July. On the 27th July, the anniversary of the completion of the cable, a special lecture and a communication link will be set up between the Valentia Cable Station and Heart’s Content Cable Station. This live link will replicate the exact messages sent on the 27th July 1866 when the cable was finally landed. The link will utilize Morse code using telegraph keys and equipment from the era connected to the existing communication network. This live communication link will be the only active Morse code link between two cable stations anywhere in the world. This is to celebrate this enormous and momentous feat of engineering. It is also to support Valentia in achieving UNESCO World Heritage Status. STF DEREK CASSIDY is doing a PhD in the field of Optical Engineering and Wavelength manipulation with the College of Engineering and Architecture, UCD. He is also a Chartered Engineer with the IET and Past-Chair of IET Ireland; Chairman of the Irish Communications Research Group, an organisation dedicated to the promotion, protection and research of Ireland’s communication heritage and is currently researching the Communication History of Ireland. He is also a member of SPIE, OSA, IEEE and a member of Engineers Ireland. He has worked for 24 years in the telecommunications industry of which 19 years have been spent working for BT in their Engineering division. Derek holds the following Degrees; BSc (Physics/ Optical Engineering), BEng (Structural/ Mechanical Engineering) and BSc (Engineering Design) and has a Master’s Degrees MEng (Structural, Mechanical, and Forensic Engineering) and a Master’s Degree MSc (Optical Engineering).

JULY 2019 | ISSUE 107



Gary started a new position as Network Investment at Facebook.


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ous companies, Cable & Wireless, Apollo and Xtera to name a few, I decided last year to take the plunge and become a consultant. I made the change for a number of reasons, I enjoy the challenge of working on a variety of projects and the pressure of having to meet deadlines and customer expectations. Through the consultancy company SubSea Networks I have had the opportunity to contribute towards a number of new build systems both technically and commercially, and to work with

an array of customers and suppliers. Many years ago I had a brief career in freelance journalism and as a consultant I have started to write again, predominantly technical content and market commentary which I find very interesting. The travelling that comes with a job in telecoms is mostly a pleasure but I find as a consultant I am better able to manage my time at home vs. away which makes my children happier too!” STF









CABLE FAULTS & MAINTENANCE Vietnam Internet Speed Affected as Cable Breaks

NOW Facebook Oregon Coast Cable Angers Neighbors Plan to Lay Cable Through Marianas Trench

PNG DataCo Working on Cable Outage

Lebanon Plans New International Fibre Cable

Globe Services in Visayas and Mindanao Interrupted Due to Cut Submarine Cables

Alberto Horcajo & Alessandro Talotta Join EllaLink Board Sunshine Coast Cable Delayed Due to Regulatory Issues

Vietnam Internet Back to Normal As Cable Fixed

Huawei’s Cable Project Moves Forward in SE Asia


French Polynesia Keen on China to Chile Cable Link Aqua Comms Pitches Blackpool Landing for US-EU Cable

2019 ICPC Plenary: History Made in San Diego

Aqua Comms Expands Presence to Interxion’s Copenhagen Campus

European Subsea Cables Conference – Call for Papers

América Móvil, Telxius to Build Pacific Submarine Cable

CURRENT SYSTEMS Superloop Links Region as Ultrafast, Reliable Fibre-optic Network Chile Inaugurates Southern Fiber System Google’s Indigo Undersea Cable Now Live SEACOM Launches Corporate Cloud Services in Uganda Seaborn Announces IP & Ethernet Services for Brazil, U.S. Hawaiki Cable Opens New Direct Route to Los Angeles Telia Carrier Expands East Coast Corridor BBG High Bandwidth to Make Nellore IT Hub Seacom Set to Explore Fibre Opportunity Across Africa Google to Extend Brazil – Uruguay Cable to Argentina

Crosslake Fibre Selects Ciena for a Subsea and Terrestrial Cable Build Between Key Metropolitan Cities Google Announces Equiano Cable Linking Africa, Europe Coral Sea Cable Begins Journey from Port Moresby Converge ICT to Finish Vis-Min Submarine Cable Backbone by 2021 EllaLink, Mauritania Sign Connectivity Agreement EIB Supports Extension of EllaLink Cable to Cape Verde Coral Sea Cable Installation Commences Chile to Study Transpacific Cable Connecting South America, Asia

STATE OF THE INDUSTRY WFN Strategies Receives Presidential “E” Award for Exports

ASC System Operating at 50% More Capacity, Says Vocus

Camtel Officially Opens Shareholding


Mark Boxer of OFS Honored for Fiber Industry Excellence

China’s Huawei to Sell Undersea Cable Business

datamena has launched a Global Interconnect Ecosystem with Hubs in Mumbai and Marseille

Broadband Infraco Intensifies Role in Connecting SADC

STT GDC Acquires Remaining Data Centre Stake From Tata in Singapore

Fibre Optic Cable Driving Down Access Pricing in Zambia

PCCW Global, Global Switch Launch PoP at Tai Seng Data Center

Political Stability Boosts Mobile Penetration in Solomon Islands

Sparkle Selects Djibouti Data Center as Its IP Hub in Africa

Fishermen Cable Committee Receives Partnership Award

FUTURE SYSTEMS Indigo Consortium’s Subsea Cables ‘about to Go Live’ Vessel Departs after Successful Survey for Cooks Islands Huawei, SubCom Vie for Cable Deal Kenya to Invest $59 mln in DARE Fiber Optics System Arctic Telecom Cable Initiative Takes Major Step Forward NBC Contracts DataCo to Develop National Network 60 SUBMARINE TELECOMS MAGAZINE

Huawei Turns to Africa to Offset US Blacklist

Gulf Bridge International Accelerates Its Transformation with Four Key Hires Across Its Organisation KDDI Cable Ship Delivered from Colombo Dockyard CAT Tasked With Expanding Thailand Internet Infrastructure

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ADVERTISER CORNER Kristian Nielsen Vice President


elcome to the tail end of Issue 107, you’re almost there! As always, I like to lift the hood a bit in the Advertiser’s Corner and show you what we’re working on in the background here at SubTel Forum. Recently, you would have seen a survey from me, our Semiannual SubTel Forum Readership Survey! It’s only been a little over a week since the survey was released, but I already have some superb data that I’d love to share with you. Our readership has changed over the years, for one thing there’s about 60,000 more of you than when I started a little over ten years ago! With new readers, we get new ideas and new content to address. In the latest survey, we’ve received some excellent feedback and some great ideas for topic areas to pursue over the next six months. So, without further ado, you may now make a drumming noise on your desk, here are the results of the latest Readership Survey! As an audience, you are roughly evenly split between Senior Management and Engineers, followed by Middle Management and trailed by various industry support roles and Academicians. This figure didn’t come as an enormous surprise, given a similar survey was accomplished recently at SubOptic, but it’s a staggering figure, nonetheless. As an audience, 47 percent of you have a stunning 20+ years in the industry. By and large, you hail from either North America, Europe or somewhere in Asiana.


This is always a figure I love to track, specifically how the list has grown over the years. During our very first Readership Survey in 2008, we observed only a handful of industry sectors. Today, we tracked 20 distinct sectors,

the only one not listed due to no data was a Finance role. The most basic value of them all, are you, our readers, satisfied with what we’re publishing? A whopping 86 percent of you are satisfied, a number

we’ve been on a steady climb with for a decade. And finally, are you happy with our reporting? 72 percent of you are likely to consider using SubTel Forum as your primary news source for the industry. That figure is the most humbling of them all, and as such, we strive to continue to meet your high expectations for excellence in reporting and analysis for matters shaping our industry. As always, none of this is possible without the support of our readers and sponsors. If you are interested in advertising in a SubTel publication, please contact Terri Jones at tjones@ Loyally yours,

Kristian Nielsen Vice President

SUBMARINE CABLE ALMANAC SUBOPTIC 2019 COMMEMORATIVE EDITION The Submarine Cable Almanac contains details on every international submarine cable system in the world. Data is collected from the public domain, and is the most accurate, comprehensive, and centralized source of information in the industry. About this special print edition: This 8.5" x 11", full color and perfect bound book commemorates the SubOptic 2019 conference.

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