SubTel Forum Magazine #103 - Data Centers and New Technology

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met Richard Hoffman probably 30 years ago when he was because in the end, he was one of those old school pros. Richard recently passed on to calmer seas. He like so pushing shore-ends for General Offshore Corporation in many is the guy who got shit done without Florida and I was a newbie at BT Marine applause or accolade, but because it was in Southampton, UK. I had been tasked needed. I’ll sincerely miss him. with exploring the possible acquisition of GOC by the company and Richard was one of the people tasked with providing answers ANNIVERSARY ISSUE to my many stupid questions. We never When Ted Breeze and I established our bought GOC, C&W Marine did instead, little magazine in 2001, our hope was to get but Richard and I remained friends and enough interest to keep it going for a while. as the years moved on so, too, did his wife, We were building on our previous successes Virginia, become a friend. of “Soundings” and “Real Time” from BT When I formed WFN Strategies in 2001, Marine and SAIC, respectively, and we realone of our earliest jobs involved accomplishized that the industry that had sustained us ing site visits on a number of Caribbean was headed into a dark time; it would need a islands for what would eventually become place to express itself like never before. GCN, and I called Richard for help. And he So, we kicked around a few ideas, talked set off alone on a multi day adventure with camera and note with a few trusted industry friends, and took a BIG chance. pad in hand, and Peg and I met him half way through in And in November 2001, just after 9/11 and the start of Trinidad and sat at a bar all night and talked. Richard was the guy you called when you needed solid experience and quiet confidence. Some years later we were implementing BLAST in American Samoa. By now, Virginia had been supporting us on a number of projects and we had similar family issues – our sons had followed us into the family business and we needed to figure out how to bring them up. So, the two of us concocted an idea that we would use each others’ sons for various projects, and when the opportunity arose we sent Richard off to the Cableship Intrepid with their son, Matt, and my son, Kristian, in tow. All the while Virginia and I stayed home reading the daily reports, sweating out the tide tables, etc., while Richard and our boys just got the job done. We used Richard again and again in some nice places and some not so nice places, and it always worked out Kristian Nielsen, Richard Hoffman and Matthew Hoffman aboard Cableship Intrepid - 2016


our largest industry downturn, and with a budget consisting of the balance of a severance package from me and some “borrowed” software and pics from him, we published our first issue, which consisted of eight articles and seven complimentary advertisements. Both the initial authors and sponsors showed us a tremendous amount of faith. In our now 17th year we have had to up our game in ways never originally imagined, try novel approaches to businesses new to us, even recreate our mission statement as a part of our drive toward continuing education: “To provide a freely accessible forum for the illumination and education of professionals in industries connected with submarine optical fiber technologies and techniques.” We continue to publish SubTel Forum with two key founding principles always in mind, which annually I reaffirm to you, our readers: • That we will provide a wide range of ideas and issues; • That we will seek to incite, entertain and provoke in a positive manner. So, here’s to you, our readers and supporters. Thank you as always for honoring us with your interest, Good reading,

Wayne Nielsen Publisher STF

Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc. 21495 Ridgetop Circle, Suite 201 Sterling, Virginia 20166, USA Tel: [+1] 703.444.0845 Fax: [+1] 703.349.5562 ISSN No. 1948-3031 PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER:

Wayne Nielsen |


Kristian Nielsen |


Christopher Noyes |


Kieran Clark |


Stephen Nielsen |


Weswen Design |


Christopher Noyes, José Chesnoy, Kieran Clark, Kristian Nielsen, Lynsey Thomas and Wayne Nielsen


Alan McCurdy, Alex Vaxmonsky, Andrew Rush, Christine Cabau Woehrel, Derek Webster, Elaine Stafford, Erick Contag, Jerry Brown, Rudyard Kipling, Tony Frisch and Vinay Nagpal.

NEXT ISSUE: January 2019 – Global Outlook 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. Copyright © 2018 Submarine Telecoms Forum, Inc. V O I C E O F T H E I N D U S T RY




CONTEN TS features


DATA CENTERS By Derek Webster




By Erick W. Contag

By Alan McCurdy









By Tony Frisch





By Elaine Stafford

By Vinay Nagpal





By Dr. Jerry Brown



EXORDIUM........................................................ 2 STF ANALYTICS REPORT..................................... 4 SAGE WORDS.................................................. 39 BACK REFLECTION........................................... 58

FROM THE PROGRAMME COMMITTEE............... 64 SUBOPTIC 2019............................................... 66 FROM THE CONFERENCE DIRECTOR.................. 72 SUBMARINE CABLE NEWS NOW........................74 ADVERTISER CORNER...................................... 76





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. The second edition of this report addresses the data center and Over-The-Top (OTT) provider aspect 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. The following Executive Summary provides an overview of the topics addressed in this month’s report.


The world continues to consume more and more bandwidth as digital activity for both enterprise and consumer applications move to “the cloud”. The companies behind these services – including the likes of Facebook, Google and Microsoft – continue to grow at nearly astronomical rates in an effort to keep up with demand – pre-

senting numerous opportunities for the submarine fiber industry to provide new infrastructure for the growing digital economy.Data Center and OTT providers are an increasingly integral part of the submarine cable system development process. OTT providers like Facebook, Google, Microsoft – and Amazon in the near future – are moving from capacity purchasers to cable owners. Meanwhile, data center providers work to bridge the gap between the cable landing station and backhaul or interconnection services in an attempt to maximize network efficiency and throughput for their customers by attempting to bring once disparate infrastructure into a single facility. More closely integrating data center and

43% 57%

cable landing facilities cuts down on network latency and increases data security. Not only are these new Not Impacted Impacted players now driving where cables are going, they are helping to push along new Systems Driven by Data Center and OTT Providers, 2016-2018 innovations inside of the cable systems themselves. Google and Microsoft do not necesNew transmission technolsarily need to build infrastructure in ogy to handle higher capacity wavelengths, increased fiber counts for more locations with a variety of interconnect overall system capacity and streamlined options. Instead, they favor locations that provide economic and cost saving network management and the push for benefits to reduce the operational open systems leading to shared system architecture are just a small sampling of expenditure impact of their data center facilities. The arrival of a major OTT new technologies and ideas these proprovider not only brings new telecoms viders are backing.Additionally, these infrastructure to a region but also the non-traditional actors are encouraging cloud services that company provides. new routes and growing new markets. The International Data Corporation South America and Africa are two estimates worldwide Public Cloud prime examples of regions changing as Services Spending will reach $180 a result of the efforts from data center and OTT providers. In particular, Face- billion USD in 2018 – an increase of book, Google and Microsoft can be the 23.7 percent over 2017. (Figure 2) All this reinforces the idea that the cloud cornerstone of a cable system project that would otherwise never get past the is here to stay and will need even more infrastructure to support massive planning stages. Because of both their growth in already established markets infrastructure needs and their growing – let alone new ones. influence, these three companies have As with any market sector involving been responsible for 43 percent of all tech, long term outlook remains cloudy submarine cable system builds since at best. Numerous tech companies 2016. (Figure 1) like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Another major change OTT providers have brought to global networks Amazon have suffered major blows in the past few months in both privacy is shifting the focus from city to city connections to data center to data cen- and long-term profitability concerns resulting from declining user counts, ter connections. Unlike an Equinix or an Interxion, companies like Facebook, weak earnings guidance from multiple

companies and in the case of Facebook, uncomfortable inquiries in front of the United States Congress about data privacy. However, the immediate future promises a wealth of opportunity for the submarine telecoms industry as the top tier OTT providers continue to demand new infrastructure at a rapid pace to meet their bandwidth needs – almost in spite of the recent uncertainty in the tech sector at large.(This should be a bit apart from the main text at the end) 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. 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.

Purchase your copy of the Submarine Telecoms Market Sector Report: Data Center today!



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


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



DATA CENTERS A New Technological Revolution and a Strawberry



hen I went to school I had books and access to a Library. My children went to school with Laptops and access to the Internet. That is a revolution in just one generation which has social and industrial impact. The revolutionary connected infrastructure that delivered that revolution is predominantly fibre, the nervous system of the internet. We hear the term ‘Cloud’ and the perception that data and processing is performed in the ether. In reality, the ‘Cloud is on the ground’ and mainly in specialized facilities call Data Centers. The Cloud and the Internet would not be able to function without Data Centers which are the heart and lungs supporting all infrastructure includ-



ing the CPU brains inside servers within rack enclosures. What is a Data Center? I do not want to quote the Wikipedia definition of a ‘Data Centre is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls.’ The question of ‘what is’ I want to expand as follows: “a Data Centre is” • Data Driven Critical infrastructure • A Data Factory that processes digital workloads • Moving Photons & Electrons (the Strawberry) processing Applications & Services

• Engines of an outsourcing digital revolution • An Asset Class The following is an option piece of Technology & Data Centers in a not too distant future, in a limited number of words! What is the essence or kernel of the internet? At its most basic level the internet’s physical infrastructure is moving electrons and photons; photons of light carrying data in the networks and electrons providing the electrical kinetic energy to move workload. The Internet has a weight in terms of those photons and electrons it is 57 grams, which is the average weight of a strawberry. We now know the weight of the internet but what about its primary business function, which for most businesses is to make a profit. In effect this sector/industry/ asset class is to move those 57 grams in the infrastructure required to profit. This can be expressed as $,¥,€,£ = (Ek (γ + β−) x ½mv2). Apologies if I have not worked out that formula correctly, I did my best! The Technology to move a strawberry is ever evolving and the pace of change is increasing especially at the Data Center. If we look at just the potential Data Center Impact from the arriving ‘The Internet of things’ (IoT) as a segment model and think of what a future revolution might look like with today’s crop of emerging technology combined with the context of a data driven society & commercial world then the Data Center landscape will see change. These changes manifesting in IoT technology adoption has the potential to produce 3 levels of Data Center infrastructure:

Level ‘0’ Data Centers are decentralized computers that could be the car, mobile phone, you & me, street furniture, the side walk or even light itself. This layer is likely to require MicroData centers (MDC) supporting that demand close to the edge and at the edge. The MicroDataCenter could in the open environment, inside the build space, office, factory or even our homes. The MicroDataCenter can be deployed with ease, at speed and be unmanned. Their multiplicity and connected strength permit them to share resilience of services which some critical application demand to be viable. Connected transport being one of them. Some MicroData centers could benefit from the rise of piped water-cooled servers or server immersion cooling (tanks of dielectric fluids) which permit higher density of processing power, higher operating temperatures up to 65 °C, reduced floor space and the potential to reuse the waste heat within its building, or into district heating systems for example. Smaller MicroData centers can be just a single containerized modular rack enclosure. I see the MDC’s becoming embedded as a utility product as part of the wider environment as core digital infrastructure; a ‘Digital Utility Service model’. This Level ‘0’ IoT Distributed Compute, its sensors, MDC, with 5G will enable Smart Cities to be smart in providing intelligence and operations to public transport, traffic flows, street lighting, air quality, city reporting, power systems, infrastructure diagnostics, early warnings, urban services and in general manage and use resources more efficiently.

What is the essence or kernel of the internet? At its most basic level the internet’s physical infrastructure is moving electrons and photons; photons of light carrying data in the networks and electrons providing the electrical kinetic energy to move workload.


Devices communicating to devices or machines to machines where data is created at the point of need and used at very high speeds almost all instantaneously and autonomously. If we take self-driving transport and cars then 5G may facilitate that essential wireless infrastructure with its 1ms of latency as against 4G at 50ms, which is too slow to functional at the rapid edge. Most of this data will be lost, some data will become information from the 25 Gigabytes generated per hour per car (low estimates) destined to reach data storage and analytical processes.


A Data Driven world with wider IoT adoption will see increased importance of multiple fibre connections and microwave comms from multiple locations to get inside the Data Center. These sites predominately will be in Hub locations with dense fibre networks and will provide more of the nervous system to increased localize CPU brain power away from the created edge of level ‘0’. They could be within existing Colocation establishments or a Modular building dedicated to IoT needs and growth curves and likely to benefit from water or immersion cooling. Level ‘1’ NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103


FEATURE needs may not comply to the standard Tier ratings (Uptime Institute) norms or established designs. The IoT world here could have its own Service level agreements (SLA) to its markets and into ‘connected clouds’. The Level ‘1’ Data Center could be a highbred of High-Performance Computing (HPC) and the use of the widening adoption of OCP (Open Compute Project, formed in 2011) an organization that openly shares designs of Data Center products. The Open Compute Project’s mission is to design and enable the delivery of the most efficient server, storage and Data Center hardware designs for scalable computing. OCP want to maximize innovation and reducing operational complexity in the scalable computing space. Amongst its openness includes cross cooperation between Facebook, IBM, Intel, Nokia, Google, Microsoft, Seagate, Dell, Rackspace, Cisco, Lenovo and Alibaba Group. At the network level there will be the need to accommodate higher volumes with high levels of automation required to maximize operational performance, monitoring and business margins. Software-defined Networking (SDN) adoption is seeking to address this issue by centralizing network intelligence that will also be a better approach to cloud computing, enabling programmatically efficient networks, which includes network virtualization merging hardware and software resources into a software-based network function. That said SDN is starting to address the obvious security and scalability concerns of centralized intelligence. At its base level SDN is intelligent controllers and physical switches combined with services and applications. Together with SDN the development and adoption of Software-Defined Data Centers (SDDC) will be needed to address high levels of automation to maximize operational performance (reduce site risks), monitoring and business margins as volumes increase, also. SDDC is in essence an automated infrastructure virtualization concept of the Data Center and its pooled hardware resources including networking, storage, CPU and security. I would like to include within SDDC DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) which has its roots in Building Management Systems (BMS) yet with monitoring sensors has the ability to look at multiple

Data Center physical assets to maximize workloads not just within a single site.


The IoT data that is now raw information needs a repository for data back-up and analysis. These will be the locations where deep mining, learning will be performed and new businesses yet the envisaged will be formed and founded. If Data is the new Oil then these sites will be the refineries and could be similar to the Hyperscalers (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, AWS, Apple, etc.) in principle but with more HPC and OCP. These new IoT HPC Hyperscalers could be born from manufactures embedding connectivity into their products looking to exploit existing and future markets. Your Fridge, Toaster, Car, home Music server could be the source data from the rapid edge to this outer edge. They will be large sites and could seek the Data Center benefits of landing in out of city locations where low latency is not such a critical requirement. Critically green, low cost power on low cost land with expansion options are more easily found. At this scale make for a better business case. These Data Centers will also move vast amounts of data around the world. I see no reason why a Global manufacturer could not deploy core sites 20 -100MW Data Center per geographical region. Are we about to witness a new wave of Hyperscalers segment? Security needs will increase in their mindsets as their information will have such commercial value as to demand their own network connections. It is good fun to surmise the future of Data Center but what of the ICT side of the Data Center.

At the network level there will be the need to accommodate higher volumes with high levels of automation required to maximize operational performance, monitoring and business margins.




Unlike ROM (Read Only Memory) which holds data permanently (being non-volatile) when the power is off as used in Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Disks etc. RAM (Random Access Memory) only holds data temporarily yet has the advantage to operate very fast as the compute main memory with low latency with the CPU. But RAM will

Data Centers are complex environments with extensive supporting infrastructure with multiple interdependencies which makes optimizing potentially difficult.

lose data and function without power. What if RAM had Persistent Memory that could sit as a hybrid form of ROM & RAM and retain instructions if power is lost? Although recently out of the Lab and available to purchase for over $1,000 for 8GB, the Persistent Memory has the ability to perform a back-up operation so as to be ready when power is restored. As well as increased performance for server application such as Big Data Analytics, storage, in-memory databases or processes needing fast access in memory it can be used at all levels of the IoT Levels explored in this future look paper. Persistent Memory has implications to Data Center standby power design such as UPS’s, power generation plants and addressing the risk of brown-outs (short term power outages or unintentional voltage drops) to service provision. It increases Uptime potential and helps de-risk downtime sit based operational losses and aid recovery times. The wider implication is when cloud resilience uses multiple Data Center to move digital workloads and brings us closer to seeing cloud as the utility with its own back-up to power outages and infrastructure resilience. IoT Cloud strength is its decentralized connectedness & compute and offers Data Center designs to use much less infrastructure, in a sense thinner.


Is a poor term that still uses servers but from the user’s perspective are servers hosting applications in the cloud and not managed by users. This term is in essence software led where code is using the precise amount of compute resource to meet the demand. This could be across a server or across many parts of many servers in single or multiple locations. Amazon Web Services appear to be credited for this when it introduced Lambda in 2014 and is developing into a cloud-based Function-as-a-Service, model (FaaS). This fits well in our IoT Data Center example where real-time responses are needed at large scales. The advantage is there are no idle virtual machines (a server) as the event-driven code just runs when requested. This is still an immature market with the need to develop more management, security, monitoring and optimization tools, on-going.


Data Centers are complex environments with extensive supporting infrastructure with multiple interdependencies which makes optimizing potentially difficult. With the introduction of sensors monitoring, recording data and controlling to set parameters then this is a good place to learn. I have seen Hyperscale Free-Air cooled Data Centers monitor the weather over years to fine tune the algorithm to predictably adjust their cooling systems to constantly be in an optimized state. Their algorithms use year on year data to improve and reduce energy use per environmental conditions before or as they chance. With a more holistic view we are seeing converged architecture and technologies with the ability to remove resource silos around administration, increase speed of deployment, and obtaining scale in simplifying Data Center optimization and management. These products will offer new levels of automation, closer integration, wider virtualization of technologies meeting and driving new demand. Machine learning is vital to achieving this outcome and coping with an increasing Data Driven world. I have avoided using the term AI as this is not intelligence, yet. Its coders using data that acts and adapts according to predefined criteria, instructions and not machines reacting like humans or creating intelligence or original thought yet!


Across this IoT example of where near future Data Centers may be; there are new technologies in the wings being developed that are just as important and as disruptive in terms of ability to challenge current norms and thus show the potential for new business models. These ‘in-Lab’ technologies will disrupt future design, CapEx and OpEx models in revolutionary terms. Photonic Computers - Are just regular computers with light taking the place of an electronic circuit (replacing electrons). Instead of a voltage on/off as the binary code, photonics work by light on/off as the binary message, using micro lasers at the chip level. So, the principle is the same, but the execution is a revolution as this technology requires a lot less power, produces a lot less waste heat and potentially hundreds of times faster and 1Tb/s on a single chip. NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103


FEATURE This tantalizing development offers a choice if you measure compute performance per Watt of power increase by 100s. That scale is a game changer and a planet saver in terms of CO2 emissions. The prospect of your existing power infrastructure having either 100s of times more spare capacity, reducing your future footprint or expansion plans within your existing Data Centers. We are back to Photons and electrons again! DNA Storage - Nick Goldman and Ewen Birney, both from the European Bioinformatics Institute realized that DNA is a very efficient way of storing information. They used a method that converts binary code 0s and 1s into the four (nucleotide) letters of genetic coding which are A, C, G, T. They chose to DNA synthesize Shakespeare’s sonnets as a PDF file and Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream” in MP3 format. This DNA code was then backward ciphered with 100% accuracy back to its original PDF and MP3 and was read and heard; but this took two weeks to accomplish. The molecular tolerance of DNA could be stable for more than 10,000 years. DNA strands has shown to last 400,000 years. This potentially provides the ultimate Human archive mechanism. In 2013 1-megabyte costs approximately $12,400, which should extensively fall in price. In practical terms when/if this technology becomes affordable and data storage retrieval becomes quick enough, we could store all the worlds data in a storage module or server the size of a bar 32mm x 150mm (2¼”x 5⅞”). Almost with zero CO2 emissions and virtually no electrical demand. When I first heard of this technology the worlds data could fit into the size of a sugar cube (10mmx10mm)

When we say data driven it’s a short step to link this to software-driven-solutions and future Data Center developments. What is clear is that our increasing dependency of all things digital and the massive growth of digitalization are driving volumes and with volumes we will see more commoditization of that Data. Data as a commodity demands ‘Data-as-a-utility’. When you see the Data / Data Center sector as a utility then you should see it as an asset class as water, power, telecoms, gas and as infrastructure such as railroads, roads, ports and airports are. The Data Center sector is very young and in industrial revolution/human terms is still a toddler, aware of the world around it and its place within it while exploring all avenues before finding or being placed on a path. Predicting the future is always going to be subjective and a risky activity as seen when we cast our minds back to those successful giants and their statements as a look of perspective: “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977 “Almost all of the many predictions now being made about 1996 hinge on the Internet’s continuing exponential growth. But I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, 1995 “Apple is already dead.” Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO, 1997 “Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop.” Time Magazine 1996 “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943 I leave the last word with Mr Bill Gates. “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” STF

The Data Center sector is very young and in industrial revolution/ human terms is still a toddler


The prospect if sequencing DNA Storage collide with Photonics or having DNA-RAM or DNA-ROM being available is a tantalizing prospect of revolutionary proportions for all of us! The article has no space to mention Blockchain, changes in legislation, Green adoption, re-use of energy, new business models impacts or looking at how cross-border activity and locations that all have impacts. Interesting that Software is mentioned again and again and its ability to define solutions to scale-out architecture. Software is one key to a Data Center revolution, as we have seen with SDN, SDDC, DCIM, DNA, FaaS, Machine Learning/ AI, Blockchain and more. Software is becoming a data driver that can meet and enable change as well as create demand.



Derek Webster is a Data Center sector consultant, advisory, client principle & advocate. He has over 25+ years sector experience, leading teams and delivering global infrastructure strategy and solutions. He spans the gambit working with clients from funding rounds, pre-budget business case, DC strategy, to country and site selection, design & build and delivery. He has helped governments & development agencies to review and align their Foreign Direct Investors (FDI), attractiveness, ‘Value Propositions’ to National offer’s. He is also a Conference speaker, report writer and evangelist.

OUT NOW! THE SECOND IN A NEW SERIES OF BI-MONTHLY REPORTS FROM STF ANALYTICS Submarine Telecoms Market Sector Report: Data Center & OTT Provider Edition

Featuring exclusive data and analysis from STF Analytics – • Exclusive data and insights from industry experts • State of the market and changing trends • Impact on cable system development • Signature Analysis • Priced for every budget








ver the last several years we have seen a massive shift in our subsea sector; ranging from types of ownerships, to biz models, technologies and system architectures. Much of the growth and deployment of new systems is driven by the insatiable appetite for massive capacity demands from Web-scale companies. Along this last decade and a half, we went from CLS-2-CLS subsea network designs, via POP-2-POP, to DC-2-DC. We dropped ring configurations for multiple linear systems. Some five years back, vendors started to push the idea of replacing the Cable Landing Station (“CLS”) with a Power Feed Equipment (“PFE”) hut and extending the subsea network all the way to the Data Center (“DC”). Driving this trend was not only better integration of the

wet and dry plants, but also potential significant CapEx savings by not having to replicate subsea and terrestrial optical equipment in back-to-back configurations. Better yet, if the Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (“SLTE”) could be racked and stacked like another server in the DC, the entire subsea network would simply be the interconnect of two data centers. This trend lead to the development of a new, simplified, optical kit. But what the industry has also learned (or re-learned) is that one size does not fit all. It never has! While the terrestrial subsea extension looks great on paper, there are many other factors to consider when designing new subsea networks. For starters, terrestrial networks are much more prone to cuts and double cuts

While the terrestrial subsea extension looks great on paper, there are many other factors to consider when designing new subsea networks.



than well engineered and laid subsea networks. To mitigate the risk of outages, some networks are engineered with multiple terrestrial routes and augmented with optical switches. Route diversity is key to ensure an optimal service can be delivered. Others have gone back in their thinking and see value in deploying a CLS, to have the choice of multiple terrestrial routes, providers, etc. and keeping the wet plant separated from the dry plant. With the fast pace of change, one way to future proof our infrastructures is to have built-in flexibility from the start, whether it is by adding branching units (“BUs”) to the wet plant for future extensions, opting to build modular CLSs optimizing CapEx today with a clear and cost-effective path for growth, and laying new terrestrial fiber with matching subsea fiber characteristics from the beach to the DC. We are doing just that with our new submarine cable system “Malbec” to be laid between Brazil and Argentina. We have added a BU to potentially service southern Brazil in the future and have carefully reviewed with our deployment partner each landing and terrestrial network option, resulting in an optimal network design to serve this new market. Driving our decisions are the need to address the opportunities and market demands we have in front of us. While a web-scale company may want to maximize capacity per fiber pair to enable a POP-2-DC or DC-2-DC design, carrier customers and other OTTs may have different needs. Creating the right balance between the aforementioned is critical for the success of a new project. As markets develop and new infrastructure is deployed, we have also witnessed a shift in traffic patterns and the emergence of new players. Fortaleza, Brazil – once a re-generation point of pretty-much all legacy subsea cable systems connecting the US and Europe with Latin America – is becoming an important interconnection point, linking Brazil to the USA and Europe and now Africa. Key to enable interconnection is neutrality. Based on this principle, GlobeNet has made multi-million-dollar investments to revamp, upgrade and expand our CLSs in Brazil and also in Colombia. In Fortaleza we partnered with Brazil’s NIC. br to deploy Brazil’s second largest carrier-neutral Internet Exchange point; enabling connectivity with new Int’l as well as domestic players. If extending the wet plant to the DC is not ideal or via-

With the fast pace of change, one way to future proof our infrastructures is to have built-in flexibility from the start, whether it is by adding branching units (“BUs”) to the wet plant for future extensions, opting to build modular CLSs optimizing CapEx today with a clear and cost-effective path for growth, and laying new terrestrial fiber with matching subsea fiber characteristics from the beach to the DC. ble, bringing the DC to the CLS is an option to consider. We did just that: In Colombia we expanded our CLS by building a new Tier III DC facility and will follow similarly with I/X services allowing our content partners to co-locate there and service their customers nationally by easily interconnecting with them at our facilities. Many developers of new DC scale and hyper-scale deployments are not only taking into consideration access to renewable energy, ample connectivity, tax benefits, and other factors to make their location selections, but are now also considering the option to be closer to subsea networks, such a new infra being built in or around Virginia Beach, VA – USA or in Europe. Is the CLS becoming the new Int’l Edge (again)? It is an exciting time for our industry, where change is just the norm. Embrace it! STF ERICK CONTAG is Executive Chairman of GlobeNet and brings over 25 years of executive management, strategy, business development, and marketing & sales expertise to the company, a provider of low latency, international capacity services to the Americas. Mr. Contag has been responsible for managing C-level relationships and telecommunications / high-technology projects for start-up enterprises through large multi-national and Global 100 companies. He has proven success in starting and building high-tech businesses. In 2011, and again in 2013, Mr. Contag was awarded the Global Telecoms Business Power 100 Award, an honor bestowed upon the most powerful 100 executives in the telecom industry. Mr. Contag has held executive positions in the U.S. and Latin America and he also has served on the Board of Directors of several companies and organizations. Mr. Contag holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tulsa, U.S. and an Executive Engineering Management certification from Instituto de Estudio de Superiores de Administración (IESA).




3 QUESTIONS WITH CHRISTINE CABAU WOEHREL Talking Industry Trends with New Star Energy Services CEO


hristine Cabau Woehrel started her career in the maritime transport in 1987 when she joined CMA-CGM, now the third largest shipping line in the world. From Line Manager to Member of the Executive Committee, her career in CMACGM led her to the management of several groups of lines: Asia-Mediterranean and Asia-Middle East. In 2011, Christine Cabau Woehrel left the CMA-CGM group, and used her experience and expertise in shipping in consultancy business. In 2012, she was appointed, by ministerial decree, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Dunkirk. Two years later, she was appointed at the head of the first French port, Marseille-Fos. She is also chairwoman of the newly-born MedPorts association.


How is the city of Marseille positioned on the subsea cables map?

Today, the city boasts the largest port in the country for trade, freight and cruise. But Marseille is also the second-leading French digital hub and a gateway from Europe to Africa, the Middle East and Asia: the city is the main point of interconnections in the Mediterranean, and a real hotspot identified by the subsea cable industry.



For many years, Marseille used to play the role of landing point for submarine cables – thirteen are already present in the city - becoming a transit hub for data traffic between EMEA and APAC. There are now more than 130 connectivity providers, more than 30 backhaul providers, 4 Internet exchanges along with the main Content Delivery Networks now accessible from Marseille, a unique ecosystem of partners to connect with. Moreover, its geographical advantage allows to connect easily the main European cities, such as Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris, where the biggest IT expenses occur, to 43 countries and 4.5 billion people across these regions. With the French Telecom deregulated market and a political security, International businesses which position their IT in Marseille can access emerging markets where demand for live content, gaming or video explodes. This context is unique and it is a real chance for us! But there is more to come! Last summer, Microsoft, Facebook and Telxius completed the installation of the Marea cable, creating the submarine link with the largest transatlantic traffic capacity between the US East Coast and Europe via Bilbao and Marseille. So, we are not only speaking about reaching MENA and APAC, but also America. By the end of 2019, 4 more cables should land in Marseille, which will double the total potential traffic capacity to 300+

Terabytes per second. This increase in capacity and reduction in latency and cost, coupled with new technologies and changing consumer behavior in emerging markets, has made Marseille an incredibly attractive colocation hub for numerous companies. Marseille interconnection point turns the city from a transit hub into a content hub, inducing large compute deployments to meet the requirements of digital media and cloud platforms investing here. Actually, Marseille is the fastest growing hub in Europe, which leads experts in the field to rename the FLAP “FLAMP”, the M standing for Marseille, and ranking it among the top 3 international hubs in terms of subsea cables and content distribution, with Singapore and Miami. It is no coincidence that the Subsea Connect conference has been taking place in Marseille the last two years, while it is an event specifically dedicated to international carriers and subsea industry.


How do French authorities and the Port of Marseille plan to facilitate the landing of new subsea cables in the area?

One year ago, at Submarine Networks World 2017, we announced that the project about a subsea cable landing solution would soon be launched to make it easier to access the gateway that Marseille is in terms of content production and data exchanges. Because, yes, there is space for cables in Marseille, contrary to what one might think! In one year, we have succeeded in coordinating all French stakeholders likely to be involved in such a project and are now able to offer an off-theshelf service, the objective being to reduce as much as possible the delay for submarine cable operators. So, we are talking about a one-stop shop process for permits, and pre-equipped landing stations which serve as a ready-to-use infrastructure. Moving from project to reality in record time demonstrates the vitality of the Port of Marseille-Fos and its “smart port” strategy. Let me explain a bit what the solution covers. Initially, there were several stakeholders involved in the permit acquisition process: the city, the metropolis, the regional and departmental prefectures, the Department of Land and Maritime (DDTM), the Port of Marseille-Fos, the Regional Directorate of the Environment, Land-use Planning and Housing, etc. For international businesses, the multiplicity of players involved in this process was a source of complexity and was not synonymous with time efficiency. As part of our new subsea cable solution, there is now one point of contact to obtain a permit: the DDTM. In concrete terms, the time required to obtain permits is now reduced from 9 to 6 months, and subsea cable consortiums can immediately benefit from a preinstalled neutral infrastructure consisting of a 3 miles protected landing zone,

directional bores, landing manholes, terrestrial ducts and optional PFE shelters [Power feeding equipment, ed.]. This reduces their time to market and their risk while allowing them to use a state-of-the-art cable landing system in direct neighborhood to two first class carrier-neutral data centres. Two directional bores will be dug at the door No. 4 of the port by the second quarter of 2019, each with a capacity for three subsea cables and two others should follow. The terrestrial ducts will connect the corresponding landing manholes to Interxion’s MRS2 and MRS3 data centres, the metro network ducts and potentially other data centres. The first six cable systems will be operational by the second quarter of 2019. Until now, the main mission of port infrastructure was to host ships and manage shipping lines. Today, ports must also be hubs of interconnection between the maritime and terrestrial zones with totally globalized flows. This is true for both goods flows and data flows, and that is why we launched the “French Smart Port” initiative, which aims to take advantage of digital opportunities. The type of synergy we have with local experts like Interxion contributes to both the competitiveness of the port and more broadly the attractiveness of the territory.


What is Interxion’s role in this project?

Actually, it is Interxion that helped us understand the concerns from subsea cable consortiums. The company is a natural partner for the Port of Marseille Fos, especially as two of its data centres – MRS2 and MRS3 – are located within the port’s area. As a carrier and cloud neutral data centre provider in Europe, the company benefits from a privileged observation post; in this project, Interxion plays a “facilitating” role on both technical and scientific levels. As part of the jointly developed solution, from a practical point of view, you can either contract directly with the Port of Marseille Fos for subsea cable landing infrastructure and separately with them for colocation of SLTEs and PFEs, or contract directly with them for both the infrastructure and colocation solution. Third option: you can also contract with the Port for the infrastructure and with an alternative supplier for colocation solutions. As the main data centre operator based in Marseille since 2014, Interxion has developed the infrastructure necessary to attract connectivity, digital media, cloud and content operators ever since. Today, Interxion’s priority is to keep Marseille’s hub growing, by facilitating the subsea cables landing. We are on the same wavelength: our common objectives are to foster Marseille’s attractiveness for international, national and local investors, help the whole territory to grow and reinforce the role of the city as a global-scale digital hub. STF NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103



COST-EFFECTIVE INTERCONTINENTAL DATA CENTER CONNECTIONS: Optimizing Mixed Submarine/Terrestrial Links between Data Centers


he context of any discussion about ocean cable systems has always been readily understood to mean long undersea cables that terminate in very close proximity to the beach. But business models and technology are shifting, and the “beach” is not always where it used to be. [1] A confluence of business and technology factors are driving a need for flexibility in the location of terminal equipment and an interest in blended ocean/terrestrial systems with minimal regeneration. [2, 3] And, all the while, coherent transmission technologies enable unprecedented bandwidth delivery across the same platform whether by land or sea. Systems integrators now offer products to help bridge the two network segments. [4] But how do we optimize performance when evaluating the optical path in such blended systems? And how do we chase the elusive “future-proof ” objective for our physical infrastructure investment when our ocean system is not merely “ocean” anymore? The terrestrial application space is often less static than the ocean floor, and the pathway costs are sometimes prohibitive. But there are those occasions when new terrestrial construction will necessarily accompany the establishment of an ocean system. And, in those circumstances, there are opportunities to closely mimic the performance of the ocean fiber in the terrestrial system. This may seem deceptively simple to the layman. But, in reality, it has taken advances in optical fiber design and the “open cables”

approach to enable the level of seamless blending between ocean and terrestrial cables that is now possible. Being possible, however, does not automatically make it advisable. There are many different cost contributors between ocean and terrestrial systems, and some rigorous analysis is required to discern the benefit of the seamlessly-blended approach. For illustrative purposes, we are going to compare a system employing conventional low-loss optical fiber in both the terrestrial and ocean segments to the same system employing a leading-edge fiber with a large effective area and very low loss in both segments. Substantial cost savings with leading-edge fibers and network efficiencies are obtained by optimizing combined terrestrial/ ocean links. While acknowledging that long-haul systems of any sort need to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis, and might be optimized with a combination of fibers, the intent is to show the process of evaluating a solution and the possibilities that are now available. The two properties of modern fibers which are most important in this regard are attenuation and optical mode field diameter (or equivalently, mode effective area). Low attenuation preserves the signal through the link with lower required amplification. Amplifiers generate noise so the less gain required from them, the cleaner the transmission. Because the optical fiber core is so small, the light is confined in a very small cross-sectional area. Over long transmission distances, tiny nonlinear interactions between

Substantial cost savings with leadingedge fibers and network efficiencies are obtained by optimizing combined terrestrial/ocean links.




the light and the glass fiber add up to problems. This is alleviated by spreading the light over a larger core size. The largest mode field diameter that submarine fibers use today is a cross-sectional area nearly twice that of standard single-mode fibers. This allows more optical power to be launched into the fiber without hitting the nonlinear limits. A metric now commonly used to value network design options is the “cost-per-bit” or CPB. This is a ratio of the total costs: deployment, cable, optical fiber, repeaters, and more to the aggregate capacity (in terabits-per-second) of all the fibers in the cable when fully lit. So any time one component is considered for upgrade, a calculation is made to verify that this new component will provide enough added capacity to justify its additional cost. Our studies indicate that for cables with 8 – 12 fiber pairs, CPB savings of up to 20% can be obtained by using ultra-low-loss (ULL), ultra large effective area (ULA) optical fibers (in the ITU categories G.654.B or D) as opposed to conventionally-sized ULL optical fibers. An example will be shown here using OFS TeraWaveâ SCUBA fibers throughout a mixed terrestrial/submarine link.


Figure 1 shows a sample link of 7,500 km, connecting two data centers, which includes both terrestrial and submarine segments. In practice, there can be any number of segments of each type interspersed in an arbitrary way. We

can cost out various solutions using combinations of the various fiber types shown in the chart. In making the fiber choices, we could consider using cheaper terrestrial amplifiers (such as erbium doped fiber amplifiers with higher noise figure (NF)) or varying the distance between repeaters in either the submarine or terrestrial segments to save on cost. Submarine costs are estimated for the items mentioned previously, with a similar approach taken to the terrestrial portion of the network. Additional features to terrestrial costing include: cheaper, noisier optical amplifiers; a wide range of deployment costs (urban vs. rural); cost of huts (greenfield); and inclusion of splice losses (splices every 6 km instead of every 50 – 60 km in submarine). Given that we have a cost model for each component in our proposed link, we now need to estimate the link performance. The electrical signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) is a favored metric of system designers today. It is a ratio obtained at the end of the link, after conversion from the optical to electrical domain, and includes all noise sources, whether from repeaters or fiber nonlinearity. If we assume transmission gear capable of operating within “X” dB of the Shannon limit (a fundamental limit on the capacity of a noisy information channel), then we can compute the link capacity without knowing details of the end terminal equipment. This is advantageous today because terminal equipment can often be reconfigured through software to transmit any one of a large group of transmission formats

Figure 1. An example 7,500 km link connecting two data centers using both submarine and terrestrial segments. Also shown are a number of optical fiber types and their typical properties (OFS products shown in parentheses).



FEATURE (QPSK, 8-QAM, 16-QAM, etc.) depending on the capabilities of the link infrastructure. Also, terminal equipment capabilities may improve during the time between cable deployment and lighting up the fibers. The value for “X” today is roughly 6 – 7 dB, which includes enough margin to allow some degradation of the infrastructure over time, without causing a network outage. So by calculating SNR for each proposed link, we can use the Shannon formula to estimate the likely capacity of our choice. The cost/capacity ratio then allows us to find the CPB.


While long distance optical link simulations used to take a lot of CPU time on a workstation, a common tool today is the widely accepted Gaussian Noise Interference Model (GNI), which requires little more than a spreadsheet. Though not applicable to every link, this model gives good results for links employing today’s coherent technology over long distances. Using this tool, the link SNR can be estimated quite accurately, even in the nonlinear regime (where optical channel powers are high). Fortunately, optimum link optical performance is obtained when the properties of each span length (repeater spacing) are individually optimized. This means that the optimum optical channel power can be found for each span, independent of all the others. With some spans on land and some in the ocean, we may find the best performance using different fiber types in each, operating at different channel power. It turns out that the order of these spans is not important. So, all the terrestrial segments of the overall link can be combined into one long segment, and all the submarine segments can be combined into another long segment. Thus we have a link with two parts: one terrestrial and one submarine. We assume here that none of the submarine segments is long enough to encounter electrical power feed equipment limitations

(though this can be incorporated into the model). We then apply the appropriate technology to each segment: fiber type, repeater characteristic (NF), span length, and costs. One of the key choices to make in designing mixed links is the span length in each segment. Typically, the CPB-optimized span length is shorter in the terrestrial segment than in the ocean segment because of the extra losses (splices), higher EDFA NF, and cheaper amplifiers of the terrestrial segment. Figure 2 shows the CPB (normalized dollars per terabit-per-second) in level contours for the 7,500 km link (described in Figure 1) using three different fiber choices. Here we have used the same fiber throughout the link to emphasize the added performance of the large effective area submarine fibers (SCUBA 125 fiber and SCUBA 150 fiber) in the terrestrial segment. The circular contours show the existence of a clear CPB minimum, around a terrestrial span length of 40 – 50 km and an ocean span length of 60 – 70 km. This minimum occurs because, in both segments of the link, cost increases with short span lengths (too many expensive repeaters) and capacity decreases with increasing span length (SNR starts eroding due to the excess noise from the EDFA amplifiers). The SCUBA fibers allow a longer optimum spacing between ocean repeaters, thereby delivering cost savings. It also demonstrates that terrestrial span lengths can be increased with the SCUBA fiber. The result is nearly a 20% cost savings when using SCUBA 150 fiber throughout the link rather than G.652 ULL fiber. This model can also estimate performance for links with constrained span lengths (such as when using existing terrestrial infrastructure). Having found the span lengths which produce the lowest CPB in the specific case of a 7,500 km mixed link, we can now ask more generally what cost savings can be obtained with different combinations of ocean and terrestrial segment lengths. Figure 3 shows such a summary for TeraWave

Figure 2. Normalized cost per Tbps in a 7,500 km link (6,000 km ocean and 1,500 km terrestrial) using different fibers: (a) G.652 ULL (ocean) with G.652 fiber (terrestrial), (b) TeraWave SCUBA 125 fiber throughout and (c) TeraWave SCUBA 150 fiber throughout. EDFA NF = 6 dB (terrestrial), 4.5 dB (ocean) and a 24 fiber cable assumed. Red indicates high cost and blue shows low cost.



SCUBA 125 fiber using the same cable and EDFA parameters cited previously. Here, the CPB is normalized to the G.652 ULL case. For each fiber type and link reach, the span lengths have been optimized. This figure shows the percentage CPB savings, added total cost and added capacity of the SCUBA 125 fiber solution relative to G.652 ULL fiber for any combination of segment lengths up to 10,000 km. Figure 3(a) shows CPB savings of 10 – 20% with SCUBA 125 fiber over the range of link reaches. Though the cost of this solution is a few percent higher than that using G.652 fiber (seen in Figure 3(b)), the added capacity can be as high as 30% (Figure 3(c)), thus providing an enormous benefit for the added cost. The cost savings of these fiber upgrades is enhanced for longer segment lengths. And savings are even higher using SCUBA 150 fiber. In addition, the CPB increases 5 - 10% with higher NF amplifiers in the terrestrial segment. This effect worsens with longer terrestrial reach. However, the advanced fibers ameliorate the impact of high NF amplifiers to some degree. Also, optimum terrestrial span lengths decrease with increasing EDFA NF. This is because the SNR is more difficult to maintain with high NF, and a cost trade-off is made. Finally, the optimum submarine span length increases when a terrestrial performance decreases (due to either high NF or poor performing terrestrial fiber). This indicates that the cost (closely spaced repeaters) of obtaining high capacity in the submarine segment is not justified when the terrestrial segment is impaired.


Simultaneously optimizing the terrestrial and submarine components of a mixed link can result in significant costper-bit savings. The use of large effective area G.654.B/D fiber with ultra-low attenuation (such as TeraWave SCU-

BA 125 or SCUBA 150 fibers) in the terrestrial segment can save up to 20% compared to links using G.652.D fiber throughout. In addition, these TeraWave fibers are more robust against high NF amplifiers which might be present in the terrestrial segment. With restrictions on minimum terrestrial span length (e.g. no spans < 80 km), the savings can be even higher. The relative benefits of the advanced fiber increase with longer terrestrial segments and higher terrestrial EDFA noise figure. The results indicate that span length choices in the two segments complement one another, so that optimum link design includes longer spans in high-performing (good fiber, low EDFA noise figure) segments. This highlights the need to do a simultaneous optimization of the terrestrial and submarine segments. STF ALAN MCCURDY is a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at OFS. He oversees technical business case development, support and marketing for new fiber products and, when time allows, works on advanced noise and fiber measurement problems in optical communications. Alan has worked in telecommunications since joining the Enterprise Networks Group at Lucent Technologies 20 years ago. Prior to that, he spent nine years on the Electrical Engineering faculty of the University of Southern California. He earned B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering and Physics from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Ph.D. from Yale University.


1 M. R. Lingampalli and F. Salley, “Integrated submarine and terrestrial network architectures for emerging subsea cables,” SubOptic 2016. 2 M. Enright et al., “Open cables and integration with terrestrial networks,” SubOptic 2016. 3 C. Bayly, Submarine Telecoms Forum Issue 101, July 2018, pp 10 – 13 “Building global and delivering local”, subtelforum101_final . 4 See for example offerings from Ciena and Nokia: insights/how/How-Submarine-Networking-Works.html, and .

Figure 3. Comparison between a G.652 fiber solution and TeraWave SCUBA 125 fiber. (a) 10 – 20% cost-per-bit savings (24-fiber cable with EDFA NF = 6 dB) by using the TeraWave fiber solution. (b) TeraWave fiber solution costs less than 10% more upfront and yields (c) 20 – 30% more capacity.





Offering a Rich Variety of Choices to Achieve Users’ Aims in Shared Systems BY TONY FRISCH INTRODUCTION


submarine cable is a substantial investment and most cables involve several parties contributing to the cost and providing assets (such as landing stations) and expertise during the overall procurement process. It’s increasingly common to see the cable capacity shared by each user purchasing one or more fibre-pairs, a configuration which provides for a relatively simple ownership model, where owners can select the transmission equipment that suits them best and activity on one fibre pair has no impact on another. At first sight, this seems a perfect solution and it has much to recommend it. The different owners, however, may have different objectives in terms of capacity and reach and one can imagine some interesting discussions to find a design that suited all of them. Another form of sharing occurs in a network with Branching Units (BUs) where the sharing may again be on a fibre pair basis but could also involve bands of wavelengths with Optical Add/Drop Multiplexing (OADM). While technology cannot solve all the potential problems, there are now a number of possibilities that were not available a short while ago and this article aims to explore how these can be applied to shared systems.

significantly longer line section and an ideal design would have the subsea repeaters more closely spaced to allow the longer reach. This scenario is typically seen in today’s market when one owner wishes to terminate at the cable landing station, another at a Data Centre and possibly another at a PoP. Interleaving repeaters to get a different spacing on different fibres is possible, but in general it creates more problems than it solves. Keeping the correct spacing while also ensuring that the repeaters don’t get too close together (and create potential repair) issues can become difficult, but the major problem is cost, as can be seen in the following figure.


Many systems start with a design specification based on the minimum capacity per fibre-pair that must be provided between two end-points. The problems with this can be seen if we imagine the case of one user who wants to terminate traffic in or close to the landing points of the system and another, who wants to deliver traffic to inland cities. The second case involves a



The interleaved repeater solution (in the lower part of the figure) requires more repeater housings, terminations and common units, such as power circuits. These are all relatively expensive items and it makes good economic sense to share their cost and that of assembling terminations, and it is always good to avoid unnecessary fibre splices.


Before examining the system-level solutions, it’s worth looking at some of the enabling technology. Earlier coherent transmission modules typically offered only three transmission formats: 1. QPSK 100G per wavelength 2. 8QAM 150G per wavelength 3. 16QAM 200G per wavelength The latest coherent modules offer intermediate codes – for example giving 125G/WL – and they may also offer a variety of symbol rates and wavelength spacings, which allow further options in terms of the capacity carried by each wavelength. There is no fundamental reason why one cannot get down to a 10G granularity in the future. Most modules offer codes up to 64QAM – maybe even higher – but these are generally intended for short terrestrial links and so far, submarine links are limited to 200G/ WL (16QAM), with longer systems typically restricted to 8QAM. This is because the higher GOSNR required for greater capacity per WL requires higher signal levels, which (on long spans) will produce non-linear distortions which reduce the GOSNR. (GOSNR is “Generalised OSNR,” a measure of Signal to Noise ratio which effectively includes the transmission impairments which are not included in the ITU-T definition of OSNR.) Increasing the power makes the non-linear effects worse and the best current solution* is to use low loss large-core fibre, where effective areas of 110-150 µ2 are available. This reduces the distortion and allows 8QAM signals to be transmitted over spans of 7,000 km or more with industrially acceptable margins. Losses range from 0.155-0.18dB/km, with significantly higher prices for the very best performance. For some time, subsea amplifiers have operated in the C-band, where erbium-doped fibre combined with gain-flattening filters produces a bandwidth of 35-40 nm. Recently, however, TE SubCom has introduced a parallel combination of C and L-band amplifiers giving around 70 nm, while Xtera offers hybrid technology using distributed

Raman amplification combined with an EDFA to give a low noise solution with a similar bandwidth.


The flexibility, and trends, shown by the technology of coherent modules make life easier for the system designer. The solid line on the following figure shows the capacity possible for different GOSNR values, relative to that need-


Capacity per WL (G)

Finding a compromise repeater spacing is unlikely to be easy; why should one party pay for more repeaters than are needed? Why should the other accept a lower capacity? Here technology can start to provide solutions. Although it makes good economic sense for all the users to share repeater housings and thus be forced to use the same repeater spacing, there is no reason why the amplifiers and the fibres need to be the same. This way a user with demanding requirements may be able to satisfy them without forcing cost onto other users.



150 100 50 0






Relative GOSNR (dB)

ed for QPSK. For example, 8QAM needs ~4 dB more than QPSK and 16QAM needs at least 7 dB. With the previous generation, a system that didn’t quite have the GOSNR needed for 8QAM, had to operate at QPSK and was restricted to 100G/WL. Now there is the option of an intermediate code somewhere between the steps of the solid line, with the potential of other codes close to the dotted line. In the future we should be able to select the greatest possible capacity that still maintains satisfactory margins for repairs etc. The dotted line (based on theory) suggests ~15G/ dB, but reality may be a little less.



LP 2

5,000 km

LP 500 km 2



FEATURE Let’s consider the example of a cable system with a subsea span of 5,000 km and the termination point for one user, but with another user who wants to cover an additional 500 km to get to an inland location. Both would like to achieve a capacity of 120 x 100G = 12T per fibre. For this example, the land segment assumes 0.25 dB/km fibre attenuation and amplifiers with a Noise Figure (NF) of 5 dB; the subsea segment uses 0.18 dB/km and 4.5 dB respectively. Assuming that each fibre pair has the same technology gives two options. Designing a system that meets the more demanding needs of the second user adds around ten repeaters. The extra repeaters add ~1 dB to the overall margin of the 5,000 km segment, meaning that it could support about 10% more traffic. Alternatively, the system could be designed to suit the 5,000 km span only, in which case the second user sees a penalty of a little less than 1 dB, meaning that ultimate capacity is again reduced by around 10%. Both solutions involve a compromise, albeit a small one. It’s important to realise that it both cases the ~10% traffic change assumes that the coherent module has the ability to offer rates of 90G, 100G and 110G. If the granularity were larger, then the compromises would be much less acceptable. There are, however, two technical solutions which are worth considering, both of which have no impact on the first user because they require the same number of repeaters. One is to reduce the attenuation of the submarine fibre for the second user from 0.18 to 0.16 dB/km. Another solution would be to reduce the noise figure of the amplifiers from 4.5 dB to 3 dB. This could be achieved quite easily with a Raman hybrid amplifier. Both solutions are more cost effective than increasing the repeater count and the second user is now in a position to compare the costs of both approaches, along with the option of accepting a 10% lower capacity, which may or may not be acceptable to the business plan. It’s worth adding that there may be cases with more challenging land segments where a combination of lower loss fibre and a low noise amplifier are required. In






these cases, a worthwhile alternative could be to replace the terrestrial ILAs with low noise Raman amplifiers, thus reducing the noise generated by the land segment. As always, a technical and commercial analysis is needed to determine the best choice. The same types of solution could be applied to a system with BUs where different links will tend to have different lengths. In this example the A-D segment is much shorter than A-B. Even with the lowest performance fibres and amplifiers the A-D path segment will probably offer significantly more capacity than is required. This illustrates a further complication that needs consideration: the cost of terminal equipment. A segment with a high GOSNR can use a format such as 16QAM, which offers twice the capacity of QPSK for almost the same equipment cost – it will require 2x the number of client interfaces, but these are typically a small cost compared with the cost of the wavelength units. OADM BU OADM BU





For this user it may be important to push for better OSNR in order to achieve this, even if it means paying for more capacity than is required – only a detailed computation (which will depend on the specific network) will say if this is worthwhile. In general, this should always be considered on short segments which are part of a larger network. The previous example showed a network with fibre-routing BUs, but an alternative with fewer fibres can be proNoise Figure 4 3 2 1 1530





duced with OADM BUs, with bands of wavelengths being designated to specific paths through the network, as shown in the following figure. As before, the different paths have significantly different lengths. The hybrid Raman amplifier can be configured to suit this, with a Noise Figure which varies with wavelength as shown in the next figure. Fibre loss and non-linearity also reduce a little with increasing wavelength. By positioning signals which travel along the longest paths at the longest wavelengths one ensures that these signals can still achieve the required GOSNR.


Technology currently offers a rich variety of choices to help different users achieve their aims in shared systems. The latest coherent modules offer improved performance in many ways, the range of constellations with lower granularity of capacity being particularly interesting. Fibres are now available with low loss and large effective area to minimise non-linear effects. Amplifier technology now includes separate EDFA C+L and hybrid Raman-EDFA. A portfolio of different technologies is clearly good, in that it offers more options, but at the same time it makes the process of analysis more difficult. Varying the technology between different segments and/or fibre pairs offers an opportunity to minimise compromises and there are clearly more possibilities than those described in this short article. *For some time now there have been interesting publications of a mixture of electronic processing which can reduce non-linear effects, Theses range from shaping the constellation (which is relatively simple) to attempting to compute, and then negate, the non-linear effects (which is very complex). There have also been a number of publications which advocate systems designs which operate at modest power levels, an approach which is also less demanding on overall system power. STF TONY FRISCH is Chief Technical Officer of Xtera. Tony joined Xtera in 2004 initially managing Marketing and Proposals for terminal equipment and upgrades and then responsible for products such as Repeaters and Branching Units, and now serves as CTO. 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.


The wrecks dissolve above us; their dust drops down from afar -Down to the dark, to the utter dark, where the blind white sea-snakes are. There is no sound, no echo of sound, in the deserts of the deep, Or the great grey level plains of ooze where the shell-burred cables creep. Here in the womb of the world -here on the tie-ribs of earth Words, and the words of men, flicker and flutter and beat -Warning, sorrow and gain, salutation and mirth -For a Power troubles the Still that has neither voice nor feet. They have wakened the timeless Things; they have killed their father Time; Joining hands in the gloom, a league from the last of the sun. Hush! Men talk to-day o’er the waste of the ultimate slime, And a new Word runs between: whispering, “Let us be one!” NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103


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PTC19’S SUBMARINE CABLE WORKSHOP A Can’t-Miss Look at an Exciting Year Ahead!


019 is looking like it will be both a busy and exciting year for all of us in the Submarine Cable Industry. … Certainly this is not just because there are so many conferences to attend - starting soon with PTC’19 just around the corner and not long thereafter, SubOptic 2019, which we all look forward to every 3 years … … Nor because each of the system suppliers keep building more and more - see just a few examples below … • SUBCOM officially now has new owners who want to invest and grow their business, • ASN’s ownership question may no longer hang in the balance, as a new suitor just confirmed interest, • NEC’s parent will perhaps continue to support their supply business with project financing support, and • HMN will be installing the PEACE cable across the Middle East- one of their biggest undertakings yet! … Nor because the undersea business is growing so much that we’ll all have no choice but to hire fresh and diverse talent – more than we’ve probably collectively hired in years, from whom we’ll all learn things which we can’t possibly yet imagine … … Nor because ‘Petabit’ transatlantic capacity volumes may be commonly anticipated in the foreseeable future and




perhaps we’ll all be programmed to remember that “Peta” means ten to the 15th power. OMG. … … Nor because the reach of transmission systems makes for some amazing new connectivity … … Nor because we’ll all enjoy reading the many new blogs shared by seasoned industry veterans who like to either provoke controversy or stimulate industry introspective, both of which add value in their own unique way … All of those, from what I can see, are true, and they will all add to the excitement the sector will experience next year. They each help make nearly every day in our industry fascinating……and sufficiently fascinating that many of us grey-hairs remain torn between retiring and staying actively engaged. But in my mind, what will make 2019 especially notable is the sheer volume of new cables being planned and constructed. There are more new projects ongoing in 2019 than we’ve see for a very long time. Who knew? As memories of 2000 have diminished but not disappeared, many of us have not wanted to get overly optimistic or enthusiastic about the possibilities. We simply did/do not want to hype expectations and inadvertently stimulate the over-speculation we experienced decades ago. But today, seemingly built on real demand, the tide definitely seems to be rising with

the OTTs leading the charge. The forecasted construction volume is not nearly at the tsunami level we saw nearly 20 years ago- so don’t get nervous. Think of it as some really nice waves to surf for some time- so long as we collectively do not get ahead of ourselves and again overbuild. What better way, then, to get your own sense of what’s real and of value, and what’s maybe not so much, than to attend the annual PTC’19 Submarine Cable Workshop in January in Honolulu? If you’re lucky, you’ll return from a well-deserved holiday break and start the new year off with a few hours of sunshine before the conference and meeting madness starts. This year, more than ever, it will be worthwhile to overrule your corporate meeting organizers and block out your Sunday to attend the Sunday Workshop, which has been “can’t miss” for more years than I care to admit I remember. 2019’s event promises to be as informative as ever and we hope even more interactive than ever before. As always, Sunday will start with an around-the-world update of cables being planned, constructed and finishing this year. We’ll be hard pressed to finish that in an hour with everything happening- but this is a time not only to hear about things you may not have heard about before, but also to personally calibrate the opportunities ahead. Region by region, you’ll get an update of who is developing which new cable. Tony Mosely of OSI is chairing the cable roundup and he’s lined up speakers who will talk about the newest cables across the Atlantic – MAREA, HAVFRUE, Dunant, EllaLink and others which maybe none of us know about officially. Heading south, we’ll get updates on the cables that are stretching across the southern Atlantic to Africa, and beyond to India and Asia, and that’s just the beginning. After we finish the world roundup, Kent Bressie will, as always, share an update on important regulatory issues. With his new advisory role to ICPC and with the long list of FCC cable landing licenses (plus a request to extend the license beyond its original 25 years) pending approval, we’re all sure to learn something helpful. Next up, we’ve again planned an interesting panel discussion, where well-known industry figures will debate a variety of industry “norms” which many of us regularly take for granted as unchangeable “truths”. I’ll be chairing the panel and doing my best to nudge some of your favorite industry “know it alls” to be put their own views of “truth and beauty” on the table for debate. They’ll shed their two cents on whether norms such as 25-year system life, consortium ownership structures, and turnkey supply will all be with us for a long time or are changing as the market evolves.

Whether it is capacity-related issues (e.g., Are prices going to keep falling at the rates they have?), or network design issues (e.g., How will the network lifetime-capacity multipliers we’ve seen over the past many years cap-out with Shannon?), or some other thing we all take for granted, it promises to be an informative exchange of ideas. Our team’s goal is to assure you walk away thinking it was time well spent as you’ll have gained insight on complex issues important for your own planning, construction, operation and/ or simply use of undersea cable networks. So, if you’ve read this far and are intrigued, feel free to submit (in advance) topics you might like added to the discussion; just send me an email at

As we’ve done at PTC for the past several years, we’ll continue the day with a delicious free lunchtime panel discussion, thanks especially this year to SubOptic. PTC is really pleased to support SubOptic, which is sponsoring this part of the workshop and lunch this year! Erick Contag has assembled another interesting spectrum of knowledgeable pundits who will look forward at the challenges facing our industry ahead. The discussion is planned to serve as an informative prelude to the SubOptic 2019 program, where many of these same issues will be discussed in far more detail throughout SubOptic’s program. While Erick is planning to touch upon a spectrum of challenges ahead, he’s also invited the chairpersons of two of SubOptic’s newest working groups to participate to share their ideas. These working groups are charged with tackling some of our most notable thorny issues- Open System Specifications NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103


FEATURE (& Standards), Industry Talent Recruiting and Diversity, Education & Training. Rounding out the day’s events will be TeleGeography’s annual workshop. They’ll continue with the theme of change and how the past influences the future. Entitled “Back to the Future,” Alan Mauldin and others will provide retrospective views to add context to their forecast of the future, as measured by a multiplicity of important market metrics. They’ll discuss demand drivers, investment levels, the spread of hubs across the globe, or other interesting factoids. And, of course, no discussion of undersea cable marketplace trends is complete these days without discussion of how data centers are impacting our market place. But my favorite is pricing. We all know that wholesale circuit and IP transit prices have been falling for years, but the pace varies widely, and can determine the difference between profits and losses for carriers. TeleGeography will offer their view of how this might change moving forward. Many of you who regularly attend PTC may be thinking you’ll hear similar discourse at SubOptic in New Orleans just a few months from now perhaps, and therefore, you might choose to spend valuable PTC time at even more meetings. Personally, I’m really looking forward to SubOptic 2019 being as important, educational and memorable as it always has been. It is hard to imagine otherwise, with our industry being on the cusp of such an onslaught of new



builds and new paradigms. But, even if I were not onstage Sunday at PTC supported by a pool of talented and knowledgeable panelists from every sector of the industry (OTTs, carriers, network operators, system and upgrade suppliers) - I find it hard to imagine missing their annual Workshop, especially at a time like this, when we have so much to discuss. We all hope to see you at the Sunday Workshop. It always has been, and always will be, a unique opportunity to learn and network that is hard to beat, and, as they say… it’s “real”. A hui hou! STF ELAINE STAFFORD is Managing Partner of DRG Undersea Consulting and has been leading the development, engineering, implementation and sales of undersea fiber-optic cable system projects worldwide since the early 1980s. Most recently, in her consulting role, Ms. Stafford has advised DRG clients with broad business support to investors (due-diligence analysis, market studies, feasibility studies, business plans) and project-specific work such as planning, engineering, procurement management and project management for cable networks across the globe. While at DRG, she’s provided support for the owners of numerous new networks, including most recently Havfrue, Marea, PLCN, AAE-1, PCCS, SEA-US, SEACOM and TE-North. Elaine has a unique blend of project, commercial and technical expertise. Prior to joining DRG, Ms. Stafford was an executive at Tyco Telecom, AT&T Submarine Systems and at AT&T Bell Laboratories with responsibilities spanning business development, global sales, project management, network engineering, product management, system design, system test, and the development of terminal equipment (hardware and software) for undersea networks. Ms. Stafford holds a BSEE from Union College and an MSEE from Stanford University. She has been recognized by SubOptic for her contributions to the industry.

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SPACE MANUFACTURED ZBLAN: Using Microgravity to Test the Theoretical Limits of Optical Fiber


t the core of today’s electronic Information Age is an insatiable demand for data processing power. Under our oceans, vast lines of fiber optic cabling already connect us, revolutionizing the way we interact, communicate and conduct business across continents. Every year, new contracts are awarded for even more data lines, yet more than 50 percent of the world’s population remains without Internet connectivity. As new technologies come online such as virtual and augmented reality, 4K and 8K televisions, and the expansion of the Internet of things, demand for increased data transmission capabilities will only increase. In anticipation, we must evaluate our existing infrastructure. Will it support the rapid speeds needed for future data transmission? Right now, current submarine cables use fiber optics made from silica. There are hundreds of thousands of kilometers of submarine telecommunications that enable the world to be connected through telephones, video calls and the internet. These cables have revolutionized the way humans interact with each other by being able to communicate with an individual or business 10,000 kilometers away instantaneously. New contracts for additional cables are awarded each year seeking to connect more individuals in remote locations or




expand existing network capacity because of the exponential increase in data usage. Just over 50% of the world’s population is now connected to the internet1 in some form and this percentage has been continuously rising since the turn of the century. This means that the existing network capacity must increase as the number of users rises maintaining fast internet speeds to support the ever-expansive use of data. Modern technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, 4K television and the internet of things are requiring substantial amounts of data to be consumed in a rapid manner and with more users coming online than ever before, the infrastructure for this data transfer must be analyzed. Current submarine cables use fiber optics made from silica material. This material has been the industry standard for several decades with fiber achieving better results year over year. The material properties for silica have drawbacks which can hinder the use of the cable overall. Limited range for signal wavelength, high attenuation compared to other fiber types and required use of repeaters in the underwater cable to amplify the light source are all items which allow for other materials to be considered for use in long telecommunications cables. Using specialized fiber optic cables for telecommunications, an increase the data rate and

data capacity could remedy the looming prospect of reaching capacity within today’s current cable infrastructure.


Exotic optical fiber, such as the fluoride-based fiber ZBLAN, theoretically provides ten times better attenuation and significantly broader transmission spectrum, compared to traditional silica fiber (Figure 1). Such attributes enable high performance fiber lasers, more capable medical equipment such as laser scalpels and endoscopes, supercontinuum light sources, more sensitive sensors for the aerospace and defense industries, and significantly higher bandwidth long-haul telecommunications connections. If ZBLAN is produced in large quantities, this form of fiber could be used to replace large existing markets for silica fiber due to the enhanced material properties and intrinsic benefits. ZBLAN fiber is a multi- composite glass composed of the following heavy metal fluoride compounds: ZrF4-BaF2-LaF3-AlF3-NaF. These compounds form a crystalline lattice that give this glass type unique properties in the near and mid-infrared spectrum. It is difficult to maintain the integrity of this lattice when manufacturing on Earth, specifically due to gravity, because the densities of compounds making up ZBLAN vary significantly. While NaF has a density of 2.56 g/ cm3 and AlF3 has a density of 2.88 g/cm3, LaF3 is more than twice as dense at 5.94 g/cm3. Much like oil in water, this density variation causes separation within the lattice during the manufacturing process. However, this special fiber has been researched and developed at great lengths due to its benefits. Extensive research in the manufacturing process of the fiber has been crucial. ZBLAN is terrestrially, commercially produced in small quantities today (~100 kg/yr.) but the full potential of this material has not been realized. Despite the theoretical performance of ZBLAN, due to absorption and extrinsic scattering, typical losses for terrestrially produced ZBLAN fibers are worse than silica fiber. Considering the amount of losses of terrestrially produced ZBLAN, using these fibers for telecommunications applications has not been viable. Absorption losses are caused by impurities in the glass. These impurities are typically from the glass preform (initial material) and can be dramatically reduced using a purer form of the fluoride-based glass. Several companies have

developed technology that create a high purity preform glass used in today’s ZBLAN fiber. Scattering losses are caused by microcrystals forming in the fiber as it is pulled. The current state-of-the-art manufacturing system for ZBLAN is a system that uses gravity to assist in the pulling of the glass which causes microcrystals to form. Because of the density differences within the ZBLAN constituents, shear thinning is present when forming the glass. When pulling ZBLAN fiber in unit gravity, shear thinning and errors in the lattice arrangement cause the formation of microcrystals throughout the fiber. These microcrystals significantly impact the performance of the fiber, causing poor attenuation. This way of manufacturing the glass also restricts the amount of fiber that can be produced in bulk leading to only a small quantity of ZBLAN produced each year.

As mentioned, ZBLAN theoretically has significantly lower attenuation and a much broader useful transmission spectrum compared to silica optical fibers. Due to scattering losses and absorption losses described above, the typical performance of ZBLAN does not match its theoretical performance, nor does ZBLAN optical fiber achieve an attenuation lower than silica optical fiber. Even with this degraded performance, ZBLAN is used for certain types of fiber lasers, endoscopes, supercontinuum light sources and aerospace sensors. Despite the performance promise that exists for the material, terrestrial manufacturers have not been able to achieve the theoretical transmission abilities of ZBLAN and have not been able to reduce the attenuation sufficiently to utilize ZBLAN for long-haul telecommunications lines. Improving the performance of ZBLAN NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103


FEATURE Taking up space roughly the size of a microwave, AMF prints parts and tools in microgravity for astronauts and has produced dozens of items in use aboard the ISS for experimentation and general purpose. Additive manufacturing is a key to enabling long, deep space exploration missions and is regarded as an Astronaut Barry Wilmore holding a polymer wrench produced by MIS’ advancement that brings those misAMF on orbit sions one step closer to reality. Using the experience gained from additive manufacturing in outer space, MIS has expanded its product portfolio to create a machine which can manufacture ZBLAN optical fiber in a compact, efficient manner in the MADE IN SPACE BACKGROUND microgravity environment. By utilizing this machine, the Founded in 2010, Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) is the industry leader in developing manufacturing technologies for amount of scattering and microcrystal formation within the glass should be minimal and increase the performance of the the outer space environment. Extreme temperature varioptical fiber closer to the theoretical limits of attenuation. ation, microgravity, atomic oxygen and variable Earth atmosphere are only some of the design considerations MIS must overcome when developing these products. However, RECENT NASA EXPERIMENTS the outer space environment can be used as a benefit if Because of the benefits of ZBLAN fiber, there have been directly implemented into the processes and design of recent efforts to test the effect of manufacturing this fiber the manufacturing equipment. Discovering how material in the absence of gravity. properties will change due to microgravity when melting, In 1994, NASA conducted parabolic flight experiments solidifying, or transitioning is one of the main goals of MIS to heat Earth-created ZBLAN and reform it without and has led to significant discoveries and breakthrough crystallization. This flight experiment demonstrated that technologies being developed today. heterogeneous crystal formation does not occur in the miA revolutionary technology created by MIS was the first crogravity environment and limits the amount of scattering 3D printer designed to operate in the microgravity envithat would be incurred by microcrystals. ronment. Over several years, this technology was upgradIn 1996, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, partnered ed and adapted to become the Additive Manufacturing with the University of Alabama in Huntsville, demonstratFacility (AMF) which is owned by MIS and is currently ed fiber pulling in microgravity and unsuccessfully flew operating aboard the International Space Station (ISS). a ZBLAN fiber reformation experiment on a sounding optical fibers by even a small margin will have significant benefit to existing users of ZBLAN. Improving ZBLAN’s performance beyond the performance of silica fiber will not only benefit existing ZBLAN users but unlock entire new markets that are currently addressed by silica fiber or other materials, such as optical fiber-based telecommunications. *These data are expected results, MIS is still in development of this fiber.



.015 dB/km [1550 nm]

≤ 0.32 dB/km [1310 nm]

.01 dB/km [2000 nm]

≤ 0.18 dB/km [1550 nm]

Operating Temperature

-55°C to +90°C

-60°C to +85°C

Operating wavelength (Below 1 dB/km)

~600 - 2800 nm

~1000 - 1750 nm

FIBER Attenuation

*Space-Made ZBLAN


9.0 μm (single-mode) / 125 μm Øcore / Øcladding



100 μm, 200 μm, 450 μm, 600 μm (multi-mode)

8.2 μm / 125 μm

rocket. Design weaknesses of this experiment led to the exposure of the ZBLAN fiber to water and destruction of the material. In 2012, Physical Optics Corporation demonstrated pulling fiber from a pre-form in microgravity (parabolic flight) for 20 seconds. This fiber that was manufactured created did not exhibit crystallization. These three experiments have demonstrated that crystallization is not present when fibers are formed in microgravity (see figure at left, zero-g fiber at bottom). Such tests were performed on small pieces of ZBLAN fiber during parabolic and suborbital flights in short time periods. This research has definitively shown that microgravity suppresses ZBLAN crystallization, thereby reducing scattering loses and leading to significant performance improvements. In other words, the unique characteristics of microgravity enable a fundamentally superior material to be created. Crucially, due to the short duration of microgravity on such test flights, insufficient lengths of material were produced to quantitatively characterize these performance improvements associated with elimination of microcrystals within the fiber. Additional research is necessary in a persistent microgravity environment in order to perfect microgravity manufacturing techniques and quantify the positive effects of manufacturing ZBLAN in the microgravity environment.

Comparison of clarity of terrestrially produced ZBLAN (top) and ZBLAN fiber produced on a microgravity parabolic flight (bottom).

the amount of fiber being pulled and the diameter of that fiber. The fiber is extruded down by the force of gravity until it reaches a diameter of ~125 microns. The diameter is monitored by fiber diameter monitors and concentricity monitors to ensure the proper profile and diameter of the fiber. Once pulled to the appropriate diameter and profile, the fiber is coated in a coating cup and subsequently cured via UV lamps in order to provide mechanical and corrosion protection. Finally, a fiber spooler assembly consisting of a spool, a fiber tractor and a capstan spools the coated fiber onto a spool for storage. A control system including an environmental control unit is connected to sensors, motors and actuators throughout the draw tower system and actively and automatically controls each portion of the system including the melt rate of the preform, the drawing speed of the fiber and the spooling rate of the spooler assembly. Without this active control, the quality of the produced fiber would be degraded and vary significantly.


MIS has partnered with ThorLabs, a leading ZBLAN producer terrestrially, to develop this unit for space. Over the past year, the team has developed a space-rated manufacturing machine designed to be used aboard Typical schematic of Terrestrial fiber drawing the ISS and adhere to NASA safety tower systems. protocols. The machine has also been TERRESTRIAL MANUFACTURING FACILITIES developed to be completely autonTypical exoticoptical fiber drawing omous when installed. Astronaut interaction is limited to towers are at least three meters tall and form optical ficonnecting the unit to power and plugging in data conber by dropping molten glass from a preform, forming a nections and then stowing for return to Earth. The unit is strand of fiber no thicker than a human hair. Gravity is remotely run from the MIS command center in California relied upon to “pull” the molten glass down until it reaches including safety checks, general functionality and progress the appropriate diameter. Fiber draw towers consist of five of the fiber manufacturing. basic components. A preform heating assembly precisely Incorporating lessons learned and using both space and positions and heats a glass preform within a furnace to the optical fiber industry experience, the team has been able to fiber’s draw temperature of 340-350° C. The position of the take today’s state-of-the-art three-meter-tall drawing tower preform within the furnace is actively controlled based on NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103


FEATURE and shrink the overall volume to a microwave size. This small volume includes all of the necessary components to grab a glass preform, position it within the unit, heat the glass, pull the fiber, spool the fiber and then safely stow it internally. Several glass preforms can be stowed and then pulled into fiber with- Made In Space Fiber Optics Unit in the unit allowing for large quantities of fiber to be created in a single shipment.


Over the course of the past year, Made In Space has had the incredible opportunity to launch three fiber payloads aboard commercial resupply service missions. MIS has two initial objectives for producing fiber in microgravity. First, demonstrate manufacturing of ZBLAN optical fiber in the microgravity environment of ISS is efficient and effective. The fiber is manufactured in an autonomous, high-throughput fashion to create large quantities of fiber. This is because limited crew time is a requirement by NASA because of the amount of experiments being conducted on the ISS simultaneously. Second, characterize the performance improvements of the ZBLAN fiber produced in space compared to terrestrially produced ZBLAN. MIS’ partner ThorLabs has provided pure ZBLAN preforms to reduce the amount of absorption loss. Along with manufacturing this in microgravity, the amount of loss in both absorption and scattering should dramatically reduce allowing the fiber to approach the theoretical limits. MIS’s first ZBLAN space fiber manufacturing flight unit launched to the ISS on the SpaceX CRS-13 mission in December 2017. With the original intent of ensuring safe operations onboard the ISS, the payload was successful in pulling a small amount of fiber on the inaugural launch. After each payload spends a month on orbit, samples from all three launches were distributed to several universities and scientific institutions for extended analysis. Once analysis is completed, a direct comparison will be made to quantitively justify the use of ZBLAN compared to traditional fiber. Through iterative design, MIS has taken what they’ve learned from the two additional launches to improve upon the payload for upgraded servicing and output. With iteration speed being bound by a limited launch schedule, difficulties can arise in transitioning from feasibility to scalability. Another fiber flight unit is manifested for upcoming com-



mercial resupply service launch, Cygnus NG-10, in mid-November. An additional fiber unit is slated to fly on SpaceX CRS17 early next year, continuing to reinforce the MIS vision of growing industrial commercialization in space. It is expected that this new type of enhanced fiber will lead to new markets and products that can replace existing technology today. If the space-rated ZBLAN performs better than today’s silica fiber, the telecommunications market would be disrupted by the amount of improvements this optical fiber brings. An example benefit for long-haul communications is that the number of repeaters used in submarine telecommunications would be reduced due to the dramatic decrease in attenuation. Another aspect for using this type of fiber is the rapidly growing data demand in the world. Virtual reality, 4K and 8K television, high end data transfer and other technologies that are being developed today require a dramatic increase in the capability of existing networks. Because of the reduction in attenuation and the ability to use a wider band of wavelengths in the fiber, this could lead to several solutions about how to ease network data loss and increase the throughput of data. Without using microgravity to MIS’ advantage, the theoretical limits of this type of optical fiber may have never been realized. In the near future, space manufactured ZBLAN could become the industry standard for high end networks cabling, advanced medical equipment and specialized high-powered lasers. STF ANDREW RUSH is President & CEO of Silicon Valley-based Made In Space, Inc. He oversees the operations, business development, and strategy of Made In Space (MIS) as it continues to push boundaries of manufacturing technology in space, at sea, and in other extreme environments for government, commercial and defense customers. Andrew served as general counsel during MIS’s startup phase and became CEO in 2015. His vision of an interplanetary existence for humanity guides MIS to drive forward offerings that enable life and work in space. As the first manufacturing company to operate in space, MIS is uniquely positioned to unlock the tremendous potential of the space economy by creating the tools, infrastructure and equipment necessary for humankind to build among the stars. Previously, Andrew worked in the intellectual property, business and ground crew/launch prep organizations at Masten Space Systems. Before becoming an attorney, he was a research assistant in a Solid State Physics Laboratory at the University of North Florida (UNF). He currently serves on the Physics Advisory Group at UNF. Andrew holds a B.S. in physics from UNF and a J.D. from Stetson University. He is also a recipient of the Young Alumni Achievement Award from UNF.



Over the past 17 years SubTel Forum has featured some of brightest and sharpest minds from the industry. A few have shared their thoughts on the publication of SubTel Forum over the years.

“While the submarine cable industry has wildly vacillated over the past 15 years, one of the few true constants has been the SubTel Forum. The entire submarine cable industry, no matter our particular discipline or industry expertise, eagerly looks forward to this publication. SubTel Forum is the true chronicler and sounding board of our dynamic and ever-changing industry sector. And, while I’ve always enjoyed reading SubTel Forum, no matter the economic climate, it is, to be sure, even more delightful to read now that the global environment for submarine cables has dramatically improved from the depths of the past 10-12 years. As a lawyer heavily involved for over three decades in the submarine cable industry, I especially appreciate SubTel Forum’s annual legal/regulatory issue. I have been fortunate to have been asked to write a relevant legal topic for that targeted issue for many years. I learn much from my colleagues and hope my pieces have been well received, as well. Legal issues, industry colleagues and the SubTel Forum, all remain true irreplaceable constants in this space. Finally, hats off to Wayne Nielsen and his family and staff for their Herculean efforts in publishing this invaluable tool and Journal for the industry. I am honored to be a small part of the history.” —Andy Lipman – Senior Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

“When SubTel Forum was first published, the world was in shock after 9/11, google wasn’t a verb and sharks apparently attacked submarine cables. The industry was riding high on a bubble created by deregulation, the dotcom boom and the availability of capital funding for new cables. This did not last, the bubble burst, resulting in major market retrenchment, with its attendant fire sales, bankruptcies, Chapter 11 filings and redundancies. My first contribution to SubTel Forum came at its nadir, in September 2005, an epilogue to ‘From Elektron to ‘e’ Commerce’, published in August 2000. Then, from March 2009 until November 2015, I wrote the ‘Back Reflection’ column. Today, the future for submarine cables seems guaranteed, and is arguably one of the most important industries in modern society. Vast numbers of people have almost instant access to a wealth of information through the World Wide Web, something that is only possible thanks to the global network of submarine fibre optic cables. These are the arteries of the internet, enabling e-commerce and shaping social media. Internet access is, quite literally, the main driver of some national economies. However, very few people know or even care how this is possible, so SubTel Forum still has a big job to do! Looking forward, my biggest concern is whether the next generation will find our industry as rewarding as I have and can take it forward to bigger and better things. Hopefully they will finally explode the myth of shark bite and perhaps create some myths and legends of their own!” - Stewart Ash, Independent Consultant NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103


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LATENCY AT THE DIGITAL EDGE: Enabling Subsea Cable Systems to Terminate Inside Multi-Tenant Data Centers



oday, more data is being produced and processed than ever before. According to the new 2018 Global Digital suite of reports, well over half of the world’s population is now online, of which nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017. Data proliferation continues to rise exponentially, thanks to the recent tech boom. Gartner estimates that IoT (Internet of Things) endpoints will reach an installed base of 25.1 billion units by 2021. These IoT systems are transforming the digital world with advanced, distributed capabilities and pushing edge computing forward as the necessary architecture, as new services will have to be staged closer to the end-user to deliver ultra-low latency. All these advancements are putting pressure on the path that data takes to get from source to end users and applications. 99% of the world’s international telecommunications is carried over submarine cables. Anything that is not cached in a local data center is

going through submarine cables at some point. The miles and miles of fiber optic cables that form the backbone of international data exchange have existed for longer than most of us can imagine. It was in 1858 that the first trans-Atlantic cable connected London with the new world, via Newfoundland. The cable allowed for 143 words to be transmitted in just 10 hours, instead of the 12 days that the one-way dispatch previously took. Contrast this with the 1890s when Morse code began to be used extensively for early radio communication, before it was possible to transmit voice. Undersea cables have become an even more valuable commodity in the past twenty years. Without these subsea cables, business processes would not be able to flow, and the world’s economies would suffer. More cable is being laid each year to meet the growing demand of bandwidth. According to the sixth issue of the Submarine Telecoms Industry report, over the last five years, the

Without subsea cables, business processes would not be able to flow, and the world’s economies would suffer.



submarine fiber industry has added an average of 32% capacity annually on major submarine cable routes, including upgrades and new system builds. It is important to note that of the 150 years that subsea cables have existed, the real international proliferation of cables and decentralization of the main cable route has happened only in the last two decades. The change on the infrastructure ownership side of subsea is as fascinating as its regional spread and history. The primary investments in this space that used to come from telecommunications firms have gradually shifted to hyperscalers and large content providers. Hyperscale data centers already account for 39% of total traffic within all data centers and is expected to quadruple by 2021. From a pure-play monetization of traffic motivation for telecom players in the previous era, growth and expansion drivers for these hyperscalers such as Amazon, Facebook and Google are linked to engineering their own data center traffic pathways to support user adoption. These new growth drivers necessitate the need for cutting down latency by adopting a proximity focused landing station models, as opposed to traditional ones that have existed for years. Optic sea cables are incredibly fast. They travel at a speed of 50.9 terabits per second (Tbps) across 11,000 kilometers. But the traditional subsea cable landing architecture contributes to latency over distance and is exacerbating

the problem. For years, these cables have terminated inside Cable Landing Stations (CLSs), which are located on the beach, away from high-population metros and business users. Data centers, on the other hand, are located in high-population metros with many digital users. Businesses benefit by being closer to data centers, because it reduces the time it takes to send and receive data. Hence, the data then must travel a few hundred miles so that it can be transmitted to the end user. All that is beginning to change as advances in laser technology have enabled subsea cable systems to terminate directly inside multi-tenant data centers, like those run by Equinix as a next-generation design. A direct connection to the cable is faster, more secure and less expensive, since it doesn’t need to traverse the single or multiple hops needed over a terrestrial network to link to IT in a data center. Take LATAM connectivity for example - Equinix operates the next-generation cable landing station architecture to support the Monet Submarine Cable System (“Monet”), designed to deliver over 60 terabits of capacity between the U.S. and Brazil. The appetite for this solution is clear from the fact that Equinix has won 23 projects in just under three years and continues to track 50 or more projects with a Ready For Service (RFS) date of two years or less. Equinix and Telxius, Telefonica’s infrastructure subsidiary, are working

Subsea Global Reach 2018 5


Confidential – © 2018 Equinix Inc.






Data Centers


Metro Subsea Enabled




FEATURE together on U.S. facilities and services for the next-generation cable landing station architecture for the MAREA and BRUSA cable systems. These subsea cables terminate in the U.S. directly into the MAREA and BRUSA cable landing station located in Virginia Beach, VA, extending the backhaul capacity into Equinix DC2 International Business Exchange (IBX). This constitutes the newest innovative design in the subsea cable infrastructure. Businesses will benefit immensely from this ingenuity, because it will provide them cost savings, enhance their performance, and provide a pathway to greater revenue. However, latency is only one facet of the subsea story. Businesses need to be close to each other and interconnect the employees, partners and customers that drive global digital business. According to the Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Volume 2, installed Interconnection Bandwidth capacity is expected to reach 8200+ Tbps by 2021, with double-digit growth across all industries. The new, innovative CLS design also gives submarine cable users direct and secure connections to the variety of industry ecosystems inside Equinix, including close to 10,000 customers, 2,750+ cloud providers, 1,600+ network providers, and 800+ content and digital media providers worldwide. The leading companies in their industries populate these ecosystems, and the opportunities for interconnection are rich. Seaborn Networks saw a huge opportunity to pioneer a new model that brought underground backhaul and metro fiber in Brazil from Seaborn’s landing station directly inside the Equinix data centers. A key growth market for Seaborn is financial services, so it planned its cable landings for New York and São Paulo. Both metros are economic centers where Equinix hosts essential financial services ecosystems, as well as a range of other digital and business ecosystems. This was a huge advantage for Seaborn’s customers, who could directly connect to a variety of digital services, business partners and customers with the lowest possible latency and the highest quality user experience. In the past, the old wet and dry plant model among subsea cable operators relied extensively on a single vendor for all equipment from cables, repeaters to Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE), Power Feed Equipment (PFE) and Line Monitoring Equipment (LME). This closed subsea cable system has given way to the open cable system

model in the last five years or so. This open model works well to enable direct data center to data center connectivity. While these direct, private connections used to be about the same colocation facility earlier, recent announcement of Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX) takes it a whole new level. ECX Fabric connects Equinix data centers all over the world to create an interconnected fabric of extremely fast connections, both physically and virtually. This cross-border connectivity option is presenting the hyperscalers with a huge opportunity to leverage existing colocation data center connectivity options (both physical and virtual) rather than building that infrastructure from the scratch in new markets at a premium. This exchange system directly, securely and dynamically connects distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems across the world, so that global businesses can cooperate with each other. Not all hyperscalers are looking at these technology opportunities the same way. Some players are more excited about the global reach in while others are keen to explore the traffic engineering opportunities. As with the adoption curve for any new technology, the path for the open cable system requires the support role played by data center players like Equinix to go way beyond the traditional SLAs - on-site technical support, world-class security, >99.9999% average uptime, etc. Providing the subsea industry with an established infrastructure that is ready to operate, requires us to be flexible and addressing requirements on an individual case basis. Subsea cables are the heart of the internet. Irrespective of who commissions the subsea networks, there is a clear recognition for the need to land the cables in purpose-built, interconnection-rich, colocation data centers. 75% of the existing Equinix 52 data center locations are subsea enabled. The anchoring points for submarine systems interconnectivity, Equinix is like one global campus for any data transfer requirements for today’s digital companies. STF

This exchange system directly, securely and dynamically connects distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems across the world, so that global businesses can cooperate with each other.



As the Director of Business Development at Equinix, ALEX VAXMONSKY is uniquely positioned to provide insight into data centers and the ecosystems of service providers, web content and applications. He has significant experience in the subsea space, driving strategic partnerships and managing complex infrastructure installations. With a deep background in both wireless and wireline environments, Alex’s team is focused on strategies that support all varieties of network connectivity to accelerate the monetization of services.







CUSTOMIZED REPORTING Delivered in 10 business days SPECIAL MARKETS — Oils & Gas, Cableships, Upgrades and more From REGIONAL TO GLOBAL Market Reports





THE EVOLVING DATACENTER MODEL: From Retail to Wholesale to Cloud to Edge



he Datacenter industry is one of the very successful stories of the digital age we live in. The global data center market size is expected to reach revenues of around $174 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of about 4% from 2018-2023. Data centers store the valuable data that our lives are so dependent on. The focus on developing a digital economy is one of the primary factors attributing to the increasing demand in the global datacenter market. There have been numerous speculations and questions raised about various datacenter models over the years such as – • Is the retail colocation model going to be extinct? • If all hyperscalers and OTTs build their own data centers, is the wholesale model sustainable? • Will the Cloud erode the outsourced datacenter model? • Will the Edge eat the Cloud?

The answer to all of these questions make for a very interesting discussion and to say the least the answers surely may differ depending on the person’s vantage point, who is answering the question. One of the largest datacenter REIT (Real Estate Invest-



ment Trust) was DuPont Fabros Trust, that got acquired by Digital Realty Trust (another datacenter REIT) in September of 2017. The answer to the question that whether wholesale datacenter business model (such as of the companies like DuPont Fabros, Digital Realty) is sustainable in the long run is – absolutely YES! That doesn’t necessarily mean that it will exist in its current form.

Let’s take a look at Wholesale vs. Retail. Typically, Wholesale model has been 1MW and up, however the trend seems to be going downmarket to 250kW of critical power. In a Wholesale model typically, the customer brings in their own cabinets/ racks, servers and networking equipment and is responsible for the management of that equipment. The datacenter operator is responsible for the management of the building, and the electrical, mechanical and (to some extent) connectivity aspects of the facility. The type of lease typically depends on the availability of capital and the experience of the facilities operations team. The type of datacenter leases in Wholesale model are – Triple Net (NNN) and Full-Service Lease. Triple Net is predominant leasing model wherein the operators charges a fixed base rent and the operating expenses, direct electric and cooling are a pass-through of the actual costs. Wholesale providers offer Full-Service Leases as well at times primarily to attract new customers wherein the operating expenses are lumped into the base rent and offer predictable billing to the customer. Customer typically takes on more risk in a Triple Net model compared to a Full-Service lease. A Retail/Colocation model typically comprises of the datacenter operator providing cabinets/racks, cages and is catered to smaller customer requirements wherein the datacenter operator is expected to provider a higher level of connectivity and managed services than a Wholesale provider, but of course the management of the electrical and mechanical components of the building rest upon the datacenter operator. In a Retail / Colocation model the datacenter provider typically charges based on cabinet/rack space and power circuits, with additional charges for other

Managed Services and Cross Connects. As more and more hyperscalers, OTTs and Cloud providers – who are the largest buyers of wholesale and super-wholesale datacenter space are building their own data centers around the globe, which question has become more and more prevalent that will the rise of hyperscalers building their own data centers ultimately make the wholesale model fade away? The Time-To-Market is so important in this industry that both the wholesale model and the largest consumers of wholesale space building their own data centers space, is expected to co-exist for the foreseeable future. The price wars that we continue to see in the wholesale sector continue to compress the margins and could perhaps slow the growth in the years to come. Another burning question in enterprise IT and in the outsourced world has been whether the Cloud providers will erode the outsourced data center model. No, the Cloud providers will not only not erode the outsourced datacenter model, but in fact with the corporate enterprises being more and more open to the idea of moving their IT workloads to the Cloud, we are seeing enterprises move their corporate enterprise IT in a mix or a hybrid environment comprising of the Cloud and Retail Colocation, and at times the Cloud, Retail Colocation and Wholesale environments. Mostly the

Another burning question in enterprise IT and in the outsourced world has been whether the Cloud providers will erode the outsourced data center model




network nodes or routers are kept in a Retail Colocation environment within an interconnection-centric colocation company that provides a dense ecosystem of carriers, Internet Exchanges and other managed services providers for the customer to interconnect with. Another trend that is underway and is moving the workloads from the Cloud and on to the Edge is the ‘Edge Data Centers’. This is an extremely important concept to move the content closer to the end user with improved performance and reduced latency. The Edge compute model is driven by a variety of applications and use-cases to name a few – Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented and Virtual Realty, Autonomous Cars and Machine Learning. Ultimately as the connections between the ‘things’ in the IoT and us humans will continue to increase, this will drive increased use of real-time decision making and interactions between various devices, and between humans and devices and ultimately driving the exchange and usage of data even higher. With such strong market drivers, the shift to Edge represents the most profound change that will impact possibly for decades to come. It is predicted that globally over the next 5 years the number of connected devices will rise to an astounding 25 billion devices with 50 billion installed or embedded sensors. If you ask someone today the definition of an Edge Data Centers, you can be rest assured that will get a varied definition primarily based on the users’ vantage point – somewhat similar to what was the case with defining ‘Cloud’ about five or so years ago. The fundamental and foundational difference between a Cloud compute environment and an Edge environment



is that Cloud emphasizes largely on centralization of data and achieving economies of scale, the Edge emphasizes on de-centralization of data and having localized copies of data accessible for the users in a fast(er) and low-latency manner. While it is expected that with the continued explosion of data and Internet-enablement of everything around us, the use of data and new models of accessing larger volumes of data fast and faster will continue to evolve, the fundamental datacenter models such as wholesale, retail colocation, Cloud will continue to co-exist. The models such as build-to-suit and power-based shell also continue to find their own niche use-cases and grow but at a much slower pace. Ultimately it is the users’ way of accessing the data and the business model of the enterprise that will drive their selected datacenter model, but more often than not, we will continue to see a hybrid mix of datacenter models in the deployments worldwide. STF VINAY NAGPAL is a datacenter and connectivity leader with over 23 years of experience developing products and technology solutions in data centers with a strong focus on connectivity, terrestrial and subsea fiber. Currently, he is the President of InterGlobix LLC, a global consultancy firm focused on the convergence of data centers, terrestrial and subsea fiber. He serves on the Leadership Board of NVTC Data Center & Cloud Committee, NVTC Executive Circle and on LINX NoVA Customer Advisory Board. Previously, he worked at Digital Realty, DuPont Fabros, Tata, Verizon, MCI, Digex, UUNET focused on data centers and connectivity services across multiple geographies in US, Canada, London, Singapore and India. He has also previously served on the Open-IX Association board and been involved in building global open standards for Interconnection. Vinay has an MBA in Information Systems, a B.S. in Computer Science. Science. He has authored whitepapers, Blogs and industry publications and is a featured speaker at datacenter and connectivity industry events globally.


HENGTONG MARINE Connecting the World, Connecting the Future


he Hengtong Marine Cable Systems brand of submarine cable products may not be widely known to SubTel Forum readers. Based in China, Hengtong Marine has a rapidly developing submarine cable system manufacturing capability which operates in a healthy competitive manner. The Hengtong Group is an international company having manufacturing and R&D bases located in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, India, Germany and Egypt). The company provides products and services in the fields of information and communication, electricity transmission and energy. The company supplies 15% of the global market of fibre optic network products. This is achieved by designing and manufacturing optical fibre preforms, drawing optical fibres (including submarine cable G652, G654, G657


optical fibres). The product portfolio includes a wide range of terrestrial cable products ranging to the smallest micro blown fibre cables to optical composite cables and from Medium-low voltage power cables to 500kV high voltage power cables.


The impact of Data Centers has had a huge influence on the development of new subsea products in a very short period of time. The new technical transmission requirements of submarine cable systems linking Data Centers, has not only affected the type of fibre used in systems, typically Large Effective Area Fibres (LEAF) are specified, NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103


FEATURE but also the number of fibres has dramatically increased to meet the quantity, quality & speed of data transmission. The benefits of using large effective area fiber are driving new products which can increase repeater spans and improve transmission speeds. These large effective area fibres are bend sensitive and a carefully controlled cabling process is required to maintain optical attenuation within specifications. Hengtong Marine has successfully delivered projects using a range of different suppliers of LEAF fibres, with typical effective areas of 110 µm2, 130 µm2 & 150 µm2 , while controlling the cabled fibre attenuation to typically 0.155 dB/km ±0.005 @ 1550nm. On face value, an increase from 8 to 16 fibre pairs, may not sound significant, but in the conservative world of subsea cables, this increased fibre count has driven a radical redesign of cables, repeaters and branching units. Why ? Well simply put the steel tube used to protect the fibres at the center of the cable structure has to increase in diameter to accommodate the increased number of fibres, while providing sufficient space to accommodate fibre slack and jelling filling compounds. The steel tube is the central building block of most subsea cable designs, so a larger diameter steel tube will have a knock-on effect on the design of inner strength member wires (number, diameter and strength of the inner armour wires), also on the dimensions and cross-sectional area of Copper Tube surrounding the inner armour wires, which is driven by the specified cable electrical conductor resistance.



The larger center elements of the cable, effectively result in a heavier, stronger, larger diameter Lightweight (LW ) cable when the same wall thickness of polyethylene insulation is maintained to provide a 15kV cable design life of 25 years. The technical challenges in repeater design are no less significant. New fibre gland penetrators are required for the increased number of fibres, and if the repeater design is to house all the optical amplifiers in the same unit, then the internal volume of the repeater has to increase. This clearly has a knock-on effect on repeater size (typically the diameter, length and weight of the housing will increase). The cable design characteristics required by international clients are normally that LW cables should be capable of recovering repeaters from a water depth of 8000 m under adverse weather conditions (defined as recovery with a 75-degree cable angle and a vertical sheave velocity of 3 m/s.) Small subsea bodies like joints sit neatly on the standard cable-ship 3m diameter recovery sheave, and during cable recovery operations the inboard cable tension equals the outboard cable tension. However larger bodies like repeaters, (as they increase in diameter and particularly length), do not move around the cable-ship sheave in the same way. The longer rigid length of the repeater body will cause the repeater to pivot on the sheave during recovery, effectively creating a lever effect and increasing the inboard cable recovery tension, as the repeater body is recovered around the sheave with a constant out-board tension.

By example an increase in effective repeater rigid length from 1.0 m to 3.0 m at a constant repeater diameter and weight, will cause the inboard cable tensions to increase as shown below : So, given the above impact of increasing Repeater effective rigid length to 2.5 m for example, the LW cable design has to be capable of sustaining NTTS recovery tensions up to 51% higher than the NTTS tensions required to recover only the cable alone (with no bodies in the water column) under the same conditions (weather, water depth, recovery speed). Clients always ask for cost effective cable designs, but as we have just shown the cable design parameters for recovery are primarily driven by the repeater weight and rigid length dimensions, especially when the standard LW cable design is required to recover a repeater from 8000 m water depth in adverse weather conditions, while not exceeding the cable NTTS. The cable tension has to be maintained below the NTTS during recovery to ensure that the cable can be re-deployed with no degradation in optical fibre design life. This now raises an interesting question … should the design parameters for LW cable be relaxed for future high capacity systems ? Clearly by designing the LW cable with a lower water depth for recovery under adverse conditions (say 6000m) a smaller cable, with less strength could be designed, and significant cable cost savings could be realized. Hengtong Marine are currently qualifying a new repeatered cable family HSRC-2 which can accommodate up to 32 LEAF fibres, and which will allow the recovery of repeaters up to 2.0 m in effective rigid length from 8000m water depth, in adverse weather conditions.


Clearly new cable designs, require new cable jointing technology and other cable accessories. In order to minimize cable joint size and weight, the designers think and use 3D engineering tools to make full use of the flexible fibre handling and storage characteristics. All cable joints are tested mechanically, electrically and optically in the on-site Cable Test Centre. Repeater Sea Case Process Engineering continuously Length (m) strives to improve manufacturing process, 0.4 reduce costs and lower manufacturing 0.9 risk, by simplifying tasks. The use of online cable transitions when designed and 1.4 implemented correctly can save both time 1.9 and costs and also result in a technical 2.4 superior transition. DA-SA cable transi-

tions have been successfully delivered and a SA-LWP cable transition has been qualified for use in future projects. R&D and Quality engineers to do additional testing beyond the scope of normal cable qualification and testing to ITU requirements. Long term abrasion testing of products and materials is essential to demonstrate to clients the benefits of selecting one design over another. As abrasion tests can take months to complete new design concepts and materials are under continuous evaluation. Similarly, long term corrosion testing of materials, cables and cable joints are essential to validate the product 25-year design life. The use of internationally accepted accelerated testing techniques are followed. However even when corrosion tests are conducted at elevated temperatures it can still take up to 18 months to complete a test and obtain a result. To ensure that conservative product handling guidelines are validated, cables are tested in conditions and under strains that normal system cables should never be subjected to. For example, Hengtong Marine R&D carry out a range of HV design life tests on cables where the insulation material is over strained. This is to validate safety margins and ensure that when products are handled correctly the electrical design life is achieved.


The last 5 years have been an incredible journey for Hengtong Marine cable Systems into the international cable system supply market. The table below gives an overview of international order cover / manufactured volume by year since 2013. The transition from the supplier of domestic Chinese systems to International systems has occurred gradually over a period of 3 years. • 2013 & 2014 were the planning, strategy & investment years with time spent developing & qualifying products, and improving quality processes. • 2015 saw the award and completion of 2 international Typical Effective Rigid Length (hinge point to hinge point) (m)

Inboard Cable Tension Magnification Factor during recovery













FEATURE projects, an Oil & Gas system in Turkmenistan (Ref 1) and the Nile River system in Africa. • 2016 marked the completion of a 4400m water depth repeatered cable systems sea trial in China together with 2 further systems awarded for the Avassa project in Comoros and the NaSCOM project in the Maldives. • 2017 was a significant year with the completion of a 30-day international sea trial completed in exposed Pacific Ocean locations in marginal cable working weather conditions (Ref 2). The sea-trial incorporated repeaters from HMN and the marine works were subcontracted to SBSS. The trials involved four separate activities • (a) a 5000m water depth repeatered cable mini-system with 2 fibre pair and 6 fibre pair repeaters trial including deployment & recovery • (b) a 4000m water depth repeatered Power Switching Branching Unit deployment and recovery, utilising recovered cable from (a) above • (c) a plough burial trial in 500m water depth using a repeatered cable mini-system with 2 fibre pair and 6 fibre pair repeaters including deployment & recovery operations. • (d) a plough burial trial in 500m water depth using a range of un-repeatered armoured cables with UQJ joints including deployment & recovery operations. Hengtong Marine is the first and the only Chinese submarine cable company to successfully complete an international seal trial to date.


International Cable Systems (kms)

Number of International System Projects




















~ 12,000.000




16Tbps per fibre pair, servicing growing regional capacity needs. The project is now entering the manufacturing preparation stage. The author would like to thank the Hengtong Marine management team for permission to use the photographs and data contained in the article. STF

Following on from the successful sea-trial the company was awarded 5 projects for systems in Turkey, Belize, America, SE Asia and PNG. • 2018 continued with the award of 4 projects, a Far East Project, the FOA Project (Chile), the IGW project (Peru), the MEGAcable project (Mexico). • 2019 also promises to be a busy year with the recent award of the submarine cable portion of the PEACE submarine cable system.

DR. JERRY BROWN, EurIng, CEng, MIMechE , Chief Engineer of Hengtong Marine Cable Systems, is responsible for Product development, Product Quality and Technical support for engineering solutions. Previously he held Technical positions with Ocean Specialists Inc., JDR Cable Systems and Alcatel Submarine Networks. Jerry has over 30 years’ experience of the subsea industry. Based in Asia for the last 12 years he is working to strengthen Hengtong Marine’s technical capabilities as an international cable system supplier. He is one of only a handful of engineers to receive the 2018 Friendship Award – the highest honour awarded by the Chinese Government for contributions to China.

The Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) system is a privately owned 12,000km cable system that provides an open system design, flexibility and carrier-neutral cross-connect services for its customers. The system design will adopt the latest 200G and WSS technologies, which will initially provide the capability to transmit over




1 SubOptic 2016 Paper, “The Challenges of Completing an Oil & Gas Cable System Order”. 2 White Paper released at SNW 2017, “Challenges in Completing an International Telecom Cable System Sea Trial” and published in Global Cable Magazine, Vol 4, Issue 4, 2017.

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It is now well known that the digital revolution is relying on the submarine cables digital highways. What is not usually shared is the paradox that submarine cable wet plant is everything but a digital system. Let us look how things moved that way.


The rationale behind the launch of the optical system was the first pressure of the digitalization of telecommunication. In years 1980, the telephonic equipment and thus the transmission technologies migrated to digital. The analog coaxial cable was simply unable to permit this transition and one could observe that the analog coaxial submarine cables and soon the analog radio satellites were connecting digital continental islands. The first optical submarine optical cables have solved this issue by the introduction of the optical fiber. Reference Books document the historical aspects [Ref. 1] and more recently their technical aspects [Ref.2] up to our modern optical cable technology. The early epic of optical submarine cables was the heart of an industrial battle leading to the first cable lay “Antibes –Port Grimaud” described in a previous issue of SubTel Forum magazine |Ref. 3]. Then, with the deployment of the large transoceanic systems TAT-8 in 1988 and soon TPC-3, not only the terminal became digital, matching the terrestrial network



expectations, but also the undersea repeater became digital as well, achieving a full bit regeneration at 280 Mbit/s, transporting twice the SDH STM-1 digital traffic. At this time, the digital network became global and initiated the “global village� that we know. Four years after TAT-8, the system TAT-9 offered in 1992 the transport of 622 Mbit/s digital communication, based on full electronic underwater regeneration. The small company MPB has even done the extraordinary development of underwater digital switching between the five landing countries Canada, USA, Spain, France and UK! [Ref. 4]. At this moment the submarine cables were just mimicking the terrestrial digital network. This was sufficient to defeat the satellite communications and one could expect it was the end of the story. But things did not go this way.

Figure 1: Submarine Optical Cables capacity over time


The submarine cables made then their second revolution with the introduction of the Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifier (EDFA). The reader can refer to the two papers on this topic in previous issues of SubTel Forum [Ref. 5 & Ref. 6]. The EDFA was an amazing enabler of the capacity per fiber that we have experienced permitting a Moore Law capacity increase of the capacity per fiber for 20 years [Figure 1]. But from 1995, the EDFA is back to analog and regeneration no longer takes place in the submarine repeater. The 5 THZ of the EDFA transport up to 20Tbit/s digital capacity in a transparent purely analog way, and

Figure 2: Digital Supervisory in EDFA Repeater

system design is done by computing noise accumulation along the full system as it was done for analog coaxial

cables! Transmitters and receivers are indeed optimized digital terminals on the land, but the no digital electronics NOVEMBER 2018 | ISSUE 103


BACK REFLECTION could compete with the transparent analog EDFA underwater. Use of the analog bandwidth of the fiber became the leitmotiv and the nodes were plain fiber Branching Units underwater. A big progress appeared soon with the Sea Me We-3 Optical Add and Drop Multiplexing (OADM), and again no active digital electronics was needed.


Supervisory of submarine cable and submerged equipment is a mandatory function and the engineers have spent a lot of imagination to do it by clever circuitry since the advent of the first coaxial cables. It has improved during several decades [Ref 7]. In years 1990, during the advent of the first optical cables, digital silicon ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) were hypnotic attractions for all the engineers. All up to date designs had to be based on silicon ASICs and the submarine repeaters could not be an exception! The designers took advantage of digital circuits to monitor the submarine plant in a clever and easy way. The digital ASIC can monitor in detail the status of EDFA through relevant data: pump current, input and output line powers, or faults. The external parameters of the EDFA can also be actively controlled [Figure 2] All need was a low bit rate communication channel between the terminal and the repeater, either by a low frequency tone over the EDFA pump or through a dedicated monitor wavelength channel. All suppliers in years 1990: NEC, Fujitsu, Alcatel,



Figure 3: Repeater with Analog Optical Loop-Back Supervisory (supervisory signature at the bottom)

STC, Pirelli except AT&T developed a digital supervisory channel in their repeater in direct continuity with the complex supervisory system developed for the analog systems. The repeater could deliver on demand a simple table of its internal parameters.


In addition to the digital supervisory, all suppliers had implemented

COTDR loop-back in their repeater in order to monitor the fiber span. Several cable suppliers, behind AT&T (becoming now TE SubCom) developed a simplified scheme to monitor the repeater itself, based on optical loop-back. On top of Figure 3, a typical topology of the repeater with loop-back supervisory is provided. The COTDR loop back is completed by a reflection

filter based on Fiber Bragg Gratings (FBP). This optical scheme was for AT&T their only wet plant monitoring technique. Analog signatures of the supervisory for defaults on repeater N from Reference 2 are shown at the bottom of figure 3. Optical loop-back could have been perceived as risky since the information is less precise and for example, it is far from obvious to know whether a repeater pump is dead or not. But the EDFA cables are finally so robust that this rustic scheme can satisfy most customers without adding the cost and complexity of the additional digital supervisory circuitry. The capacity of submarine cables is presently increasing in a more difficult direction: The Shannon limit is attained and the capacity per fiber reaching around 20 Tbit/s can no longer increase. The only way is now to increase the number of fibers in the cable and in the repeater. The ultimate capacity becomes at its turn limited by the energy consumed by the repeater and the space inside the repeater [Figure 1]. Optimization of energy and space can be achieved by removing any digital/analog conversion which is not absolutely needed, such as the digital supervisory of the repeaters, therefore permitting higher capacities of submarine systems.


It is a paradox that the digital revolution is providing unlimited capacity to all our day-to-day needs and dreams, while the submarine cable enabling technology is becoming purely analog underwater!

Optimization of energy and space can be achieved by removing any digital/ analog conversion which is not absolutely needed, such as the digital supervisory of the repeaters, therefore permitting higher capacities of submarine systems. Nevertheless, the digital invasion has not said its final word for the submarine wet plant! In the meantime, one equipment is becoming more and more intelligent in the wet plant: the Branching Unit (BU) becomes reconfigurable (R-OADM BU), and the messaging to and from a R-OADM BU need a digital communication channel. This is now the last island of digital communication inside the wet plant, but at an ultralow capacity of a few bit/s only, while enabling future cables targeting 1 Pbit/s (1015 bit/s) capacity [Ref. 8]! STF JOSÉ CHESNOY, PHD, is an independent expert in the field of submarine cable technology. After Ecole Polytechnique and a first 10 years academic career in the French CNRS, he joined Alcatel’s research organization in 1989, leading the advent of amplified submarine cables in the company. After several positions in R&D and sales, he became CTO of Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks until the end of 2014. He was member of several Suboptic Program Committees, then chaired the program committee for SubOptic 2004, and was nominated Bell Labs Fellow in 2010. José Chesnoy is the editor of the reference book “Undersea Fiber Communication Systems” (Elsevier/ Academic Press) having a new revised edition published end 2015.


Du Morse à l’Internet, R. Salvador, G. Fouchard, Y. Rolland, A.P. Leclerc, Edition Association des Amis des Câbles Sous Marins, 2006 (book) Undersea Fiber Communication Systems, Ed.2, José Chesnoy ed., Elsevier/Academic Press ISBN: 978-0-12-804269-4 (book) José Chesnoy, Antibes-Port Grimaud : a world first in optical fiber communication, SubTel Forum magazine # 89, July 2016, p.76, Morrel P. Bachynski, An adventure of 30 years , PHYSICS IN CANADA, Vol.63, NO. 3, p.127 ( July-Sept. 2007 ) Emmanuel Desurvire, Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifiers in AT&T Bell Labs : a paced odyssey, SubTel Forum Magazine #100, May 2018, p.48, José Chesnoy with Jacques Augé, EDFA blooming: the fall of the barricades, SubTel Forum Magazine #102, September 2018, p.50, September 2018, Michel Martin & José Chesnoy, Retrospective of wet plant supervisory, SubTel Forum Magazine #97, November 2017, p.86, subtelforum/docs/stf-97 Herve Fevrier, S. Grubb, N. Harrington, A. Palmer-Felgate, E. Rivera-Hartling, T. Stuch, Towards 1 Pbit/s cables, workshop “Future submarine communication needs”, ECOC’2018, Roma, September 2018






ELEVATE YOUR COMPANY. ADVERTISE IN SUBTEL FORUM SubTel Forum publications are read and used by decision makers across the entire submarine cable industry.








hen the Programme Committee sat down to agree the theme for SubOptic 2019 the subsea industry was in a clear state of flux. Since SubOptic in Dubai many new systems had been planned and were either in the water, being manufactured or under contract. The vast increase in demand from the hyperscalers was driving not only an increase in cable build activity but also in technological advancement, predominantly by necessity. What exactly that necessity is depends on who the purchaser is, but across the board buyers are looking for diversity, low cost per terabit and small lead times. Whether that comes packaged in an SDM or C+L design, a traditional cable type, a high fibre count cable or even one with a non-copper conductor very much depends on the specific drivers within each individual company. The increased diversity in the types of purchasers within this market is pushing development to the max. The needs of those selling capacity are very different to those keeping it for their own use, the growth rates are disparate and the requirement for fibre pair ownership, vs. spectrum or capacity impacts not only the technical design but the commercial model.



Furthermore, the end points of subsea systems are changing. Data Center connectivity is becoming increasingly common with subsea systems stretching across the land. The Programme Committee saw that SubOptic needed to address this massive change in the market place and the theme for 2019, ‘To the Beach and Beyond – Rethinking Global Networks’, reflects that perfectly. We have aimed to create a program which addresses the needs of those growing at a large scale and those perhaps with a slower demand rate, but who are still looking to benefit from the new technology developments and commercial models. Tim Stuch is leading the Program Topic; ‘Networks of the Future’, which will encompass the next steps for capacity and network technology and the future role of traditional operators, amongst other key issues the industry is facing. Bernard Logan’s Program Topic; ’Commercial and Funding’, will delve into the new funding models that are being adopted by the industry, another aspect of our market which has seen huge change. The SubOptic 2019 theme sits comfortably within this ‘Data Centers and New Technology’ issue of STF maga-

zine and writing this article has made me think about how the increased ties between the subsea and the Data Center markets have affected the subsea industry both directly and indirectly. Previously demand was very much transaction based, bandwidth requirements were (originally) driven by the number of phone calls that occurred and forecasting was a case of predicting how many more ‘transactions’ were likely to occur. Routing was based on linking population centers. Nowadays the routing designs of systems are heavily based on the location of Data Centers i.e. places with low cost power, suitable space, Government support and good connectivity opportunities. The latest MAREA cable is a perfect example, strategically located to link into the Northern Virginia (“Datacenter Alley”) area. Demand is driven by other factors, such as mirroring, and by traffic modelling which is vastly different as DC traffic inherently expands into all available space. The high diversity requirements of certain parties have in some ways reduced the need for high reliability in system design. An owner with many diverse cable routes on offer between two Data Centers has less pressure on

the MTTR and MTBF (Mean Time To Repair, Mean Time Between Failure) for each individual route. And this, in itself creates a path to opportunities for possible cost reduction in areas such as marine maintenance, duplication/ protection at an equipment level and the reliability of system components. Similarly, in the Data Center market increased diversity has driven change. Traditional Data Centers were built to the highest standards and focused on the ‘facilities’ side of their operations. In the late ‘90s, the designs were measured by “9s of availability” and later the Uptime Institute popularized a Tier Rating system for Data Centers, Tier IV being the golden castle. The NAP of the Americas in Miami is a perfect example of this type of design. Nowadays, there has been a shift in Data Center designs, driven from the top down, based on the applications they are running (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning taking up the bulk of the workloads). In other words, ‘facilities’ is not the leading driver, but rather the IT and software applications that live on the hardware. As a result, we have seen the CDNs, OTT, and hyperscale providers enter into new Data Center markets with many levels of diversity and disaggregation, and hence their Tier level requirements have reduced and are now acceptable at Tier II. Applications are run in “Active-Active” environments, sometimes with 3-5 Data Centers owned by one party in the same population center. From the subsea perspective large robust cable landing stations of the past have turned into modular units housing the

system power feeding equipment, with the precious SLTE’s located inland in Data Centers. Welcome changes or scary thoughts, you decide. In theory, networks based on DCDC connectivity are simpler in design and hence the apparent speed to market of a number of cable systems procured solely, or predominantly, by the content providers. The entry level unit has moved from 10G to 100G to ½ fibre pair and increasingly frequently to a full fibre pair, or two. Procurements at this order of magnitude have driven development, and the need for high fibre count cables in particular, is directly relatable to the hyperscalers. Fewer parties buying less complex systems speeds up implementation no end. The purchasing habits of the DC world have spread into subsea. There is a requirement for disaggregation primarily driven by the need for cost reduction. The long-term model of making money from future sales is disappearing and new businesses focus heavily on OpEx reductions. By

commoditizing a subsea system into its separate parts, repeaters, cable, terminal, etc. it is far easier to strip out costs. With so much change afoot, I cannot help but wonder where the subsea business will be in the future. Data Cables, Submarine Centers, the boundaries are blurring continually. I look forward to hearing from the real experts in New Orleans! STF LYNSEY THOMAS is an independent subsea consultant and member of the SubOptic 2019 Programme Committee. Having been involved with the subsea 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. Having worked worldwide as a Supplier, Customer, Operator and Consultant she has an extensive knowledge of the telecoms market. Lynsey is a Director of Subsea Networks and served as a Trustee in the Renewables Sector. She is a freelance writer and previous columnist for The Guardian. Lynsey holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering Science from Oxford University. With special thanks to Jorge Balcells, Senior Global Solutions Architect at Vertiv.





Gary B. Smith is President and CEO of Ciena, a global networking systems, services, and software company that delivers best-in-breed technology by driving openness and choice in the market to interconnect the lives of those around the world. Under Smith’s leadership, Ciena has grown from approximately $300 million in annual revenue to a nearly $3 billion annual revenue run rate, with #1 or #2 market share globally in every category the company participates in, including packet-optical and data center interconnect. As one of the fastest-growing companies in the sector since 2001, Ciena’s 5,800+ employees support more than 1,500 of the world’s most complex networks. One of the longest-serving CEOs in the technology sector, Smith, 58, has successfully led Ciena through two recessions. Named CEO just before the unprecedented telecommunications industry downturn in 2001, Smith formulated and executed on a strategy to transform Ciena from a company with a narrow product line and concentrated customer base to a broader solutions-based business with a more diverse set of customers. During that time, he oversaw the acquisition and integration of multiple companies in high-growth markets, while reducing Ciena’s operating expenses by more than 50 percent. From 2003 through 2008, Ciena achieved a market-leading 30 percent average compound annual growth rate (CAGR), including 19 consecutive quarters of revenue growth. In 2010, Smith secured Ciena’s global leadership in the sector by steering the acquisition of Nortel’s Metro Ethernet Networks


(MEN) business through a highly competitive and complex bankruptcy sale process. A citizen of both the U.S. and UK, Smith has lived on three continents and worked extensively on six. He joined Ciena in 1997 to launch its international business, later leading Worldwide Sales before becoming Chief Operating Officer in 1999 and CEO in 2001. Prior to Ciena, Smith served as VP for Sales and Marketing at Intelsat, a leading provider of fixed satellite services, where he significantly increased revenue and profits and re-engineered the company for privatization. Before Intelsat, Smith held senior global executive roles in a number of pioneering European communications companies, including Cray Communications Group, Tricom Communications PLC, and Case Communications Group. In 2011, Smith was appointed to the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC). Also that year, industry publication Light Reading inducted Smith into its Hall of Fame, based on his achievements and “staying power” as CEO. He is currently the longest serving chief executive amongst his industry peers. He also serves as a Director and Chair of the Governance and Nominations Committee of Commvault Corporation, a leader in unified database management software. Smith is a Commissioner for the Global Information Infrastructure Commission; serves on the Wake Forest University Advisory Council for the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship; and, participates in initiatives with the Center for Corporate Innovation. Smith earned an MBA from Ashridge Management College in the UK. He is an avid photographer, competitive CrossFit athlete and advocate, and resides in Maryland, USA, with his wife and two children.


Amber Case studies the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way cultures think, act, and understand their worlds. Case is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and a visiting researcher at the MIT Center for Civic Media. In her work Case often declares that we are all cyborgs already, as a cyborg is simply a human who interacts with technology. According to Case the technology doesn’t necessarily need to be implanted: it can be a physical or mental extension. She argues that these days humans have two selves: one digital, one physical. Her main focus in recent years has been Calm technology, a type of information technology where the interaction between the technology and its user is designed to occur in the user’s periphery rather than constantly at the center of attention. Case is the author of Calm Technology, Design for the Next Generation of Devices. She spoke about the future of the interface for SXSW 2012’s keynote address, and her TED talk, “We are all cyborgs now,” has been viewed over a million times. Named one of National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers, she’s been listed among Inc. Magazine’s 30 under 30 and featured among Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology. She was the co-founder and former CEO of Geoloqi, a location-based software company acquired by Esri in 2012. In 2008, Case founded CyborgCamp, an unconference on the future of humans and computers. Born in about 1987, Case graduated with a sociology major from Lewis & Clark College in 2008, having written a thesis about cell phones. In 2008, she co-founded CyborgCamp, an unconference on the future of humans and computers. Case currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Portland, Oregon.


Vinton G. Cerf is vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. He contributes to global policy development and continued spread of the Internet. Widely known as one of the “Fathers of the Internet,” Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet. He has served in executive positions at MCI, the Corporation for National Research Initiatives and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and on the faculty of Stanford University. Vint Cerf served as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from 2000-2007 and has been a Visiting Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1998. Cerf served as founding president of the Internet Society (ISOC) from 1992-1995. Cerf is a Foreign Member of the British Royal Society and Swedish Academy of Engineering, and Fellow of IEEE, ACM, and American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the International Engineering Consortium, the Computer History Museum, the British Computer Society, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, the Worshipful Company of Stationers and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has served as President of the Association for Computing Machinery, chairman of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) and completed a term as Chairman of the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology for the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. President Obama appointed him to the National Science Board in 2012. Cerf is a recipient of numerous awards and commendations in connection with his work on the Internet, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, US National Medal of Technology, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the Prince of Asturias Award, the Tunisian National Medal of Science, the Japan Prize, the Charles Stark Draper award, the ACM Turing Award, the Franklin Medal, Officer of the Legion d’Honneur and 29 honorary degrees. In December 1994, People magazine identified Cerf as one of that year’s “25 Most Intriguing People.” His personal interests include fine wine, gourmet cooking and science fiction. Cerf and his wife, Sigrid, were married in 1966 and have two sons, David and Bennett.

FEATURE Monday, 8 April



FEATURE Wednesday, 10 April






irstly, we would like to tank everyone that has submitted an abstract to the Program Committee, you are shaping yet another excellent technical program for SubOptic 2019, the only conference for the Industry by the Industry. We would also like to thank the Program and Papers committees for their excellent work reviewing and selecting the abstracts to be presented during the conference. All the combined hard work that’s been going on went in to the process will be on display at SubOptic 2019 in New Orleans – the only way to see it, is attend! Regarding attendance directly, the questions that are most often asked is why I should attend or why should I send my employees to a conference. We are proud to announce that the provisional program for the conference is now available! SubOptic 2019 will offer nineteen (19) oral sessions, two (2) panel discussions, and a packed exhibition floor with companies representing every corner of the submarine telecoms market, and beyond! If your company or organization isn’t a sponsor or exhib-



iting, there is still time and availability to become part of the event. Contact Kristian Nielsen at or phone him direct at +1 703.444.0845 to join the conversation.

SubOptic 2019 will offer nineteen oral sessions, two panel discussions, and a packed exhibition floor with companies representing every corner of the submarine telecoms market, and beyond! Back to the outstanding program, the Program Committee is organizing six (6) master classes on Monday, where attendees will have the opportunity to earn Continuing Education Credits. That’s right, actual college

Chris Noyes Conference Director STF Events credit at a trade show! That is just one of the new features of attending SubOptic 2019, and an industry first. The keynote speakers have been selected and will present as follows: Gary Smith, CEO & President of Ciena kicks off SubOptic 2019 with a warm welcome keynote and will address current and upcoming industry technical trends. On Wednesday, Amber Case, a Cyborg Anthropologist, will discuss the peculiar and growing relationship between people and technology. Case studies the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way cultures think, act, and understand their worlds. Case is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and a visiting researcher at the MIT Center for Civic Media. On Thursday SubOptic 2019 will host its final Keynote: Vint Cerf. Cerf is currently is vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. He contributes to global policy development

and continued spread of the Internet. Widely known as one of the “Fathers of the Internet,” Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet. He has served in executive positions at MCI, the Corporation for National Research Initiatives and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and on the faculty of Stanford University. If you were on the fence about attending, the outstanding technical program and keynotes should push you over! Also, on Thursday SubOptic will host its first conference wide Round Table Discussions. The session will include tables with a conversation director and up to ten attendees to sit and discuss a wide variety of topics that impact the industry. Topics to include: • Side Stepping the Shannon Limit • C&L V SDM • Consortium Models of The Future • Marine Fleet Obsolescence • Wet Plant Supervisory in The Open World • Cable Protection in Extreme Conditions • Permitting Hotspots and How to Avoid Them • Increasing Diversity in The Industry • SMART Systems • The Evolution of Cable Landing Stations • The Future of SubOptic • Oil & Gas/Renewables • Marine Maintenance Models in New • Mesh Technology • New Finance Models • Submarine Power and Data Networks – Living in Harmony?

Education is one of the key pillars of the SubOptic conference. To best foster an environment of education and collaboration, SubOptic 2019 is employing a host of new techniques and tools for communication and information dissemination. The new SubOptic 2019 conference app will feature a live commenting feature that every session will make use of. Education is one of the key pillars of the SubOptic conference. To best foster an environment of education and collaboration, SubOptic 2019 is employing a host of new techniques and tools for communication and information dissemination. The new SubOptic 2019 conference app will feature a live commenting feature that every session will make use of. During the sessions, attendees will be able to direct their written comments to the moderator or presenters without having to disrupt the presentation. Similar to live tweeting an event, the moderator will be able to collect these comments and present them later on. Session moderators will also be able to perform live polls of the audience, all directed through the conference app. Frankly, we’re excited to introduce the attendees of SubOptic 2019 to the latest and greatest conference app features available. To drive the importance of the technical program, a few of the befits of attending SubOptic 2019 and participating in the sessions: • Ensures you capabilities keep pace with the current standards in in the industry

• Provides per to per learning opportunities • Advances the overall knowledge base of the industry • Professional Development opens the doors to new possibilities, skills and knowledge And finally, what’s the second most important reason attendees keep coming back to SubOptic time after time? The parties. SubOptic 2019 will offer an even more involved program including local flavor and superb receptions. The SubOptic 2019 +1 Program features Pre and Post Conference Tours, such as swamp tours, Creole cooking classes, local ghost tours and a long list of other local attractions. Many of the people who have have already registered have chosen to bring their significant other to take advantage of the +1 Program during the Conference as well as arrive early or stay after to an see the area with the tours being offered. Bring your +1, bring your family, or even bring a friend. On top of everything mentioned above, SubOptic 2019 is going to be FUN! STF





SUBTEL FORUM Submarine Telecoms Industry Report Issue 7 Now Available SubTel Forum Celebrates 17th Anniversary Submarine Cable Almanac – Issue 28 Now Available!


NOW SAEx, Alcatel Submarine Networks Begin Survey Puerto Rico Eyeing USD 130 mln Undersea Cable Project Orange, Google Team Up on Dunant Cable XSite Modular Awarded Contract by SISCC Deep Blue to Support Digicel Carribbean Fiber Rollout PEACE Cable Begins Cable Manufacturing Stage

SEA-ME-WE 3 Submarine Cable Fixed

Orange, PCCW to Land PEACE Cable in France

Angola WACS Submarine Cable Damaged

D jibouti Telecom, Somtel and TE SubCom Announce Mogadishu Branch of DARE1 Cable System

Virgin Media Files Cases Against Fishermen in High Court

CURRENT SYSTEMS TE SubCom to Extend MainOne Cable System SACS Cable Activated Across South Atlantic Angola Cables Announces Launch of SACS Angola Cables To Partner with Silica Networks Ciena Powers Southern Cross Continual Expansion Xtera Completes Final Splice on DISA Cable System

DATA CENTERS QTS, Telxius Deliver Lowest Latency with MAREA, BRUSA Interxion Announces Frankfurt, Marseille Data Centers Marseille: From Peering Point to International Content Hub Telefonica Is Said to Weigh Sale of Data Centers SACS to Boost Africa Connectivity via Teraco Data Centers Digital Realty Opens Fifth Data Center in Australia

FUTURE SYSTEMS HAVFRUE to Land at NJFX Cable Landing Station Flexenclosure to Provide Cable Landings for Interchange INDIGO West Cable Lands at Perth Beach GITGE, ASN to Link Sao Tome and Annobon



Indigo Subsea Cable Completes Sydney Landing

STATE OF THE INDUSTRY TE SubCom to be Acquired by Cerberus Telecom Egypt Acquires MENA Cable from Orascom MainOne, Orange to Boost Internet Access in West Africa Telebras Agrees Asset Swap with EllaLink Telecom Egypt Acquires 50% of EISCC for $15m Telkom Kenya In Talks For Submarine Cable Landings Pioneer Appoints Director of Submarine Networks Infinera Appoints David Heard as Chief Operating Officer New WFN Strategies Projects Manager Takes the Helm Ekinops in Talks to Buy Nokia ASN Division Ekinops Confirms Talks with Nokia for ASN Hexatronic to Acquire Fiber Optic Company Opternus HC2 to Explore Strategic Alternatives for Global Marine Cerberus Completes Acquisition of SubCom

TECHNOLOGY & UPGRADES Hawaiki Selects Ciena to Upgrade Cable Capacity Infinera Subsea Spectral Efficiency Record with MAREA AAE-1 Consortium to Upgrade Cable to 200Gbps Telia Carrier and Infinera Demonstrate First 600G



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ADVERTISER CORNER Kristian Nielsen Vice President



ith as much as we’ve had going on this year, I’m stunned to be writing another Ad Corner – is it really November already? Since last Spring, we’ve been undergoing an extraordinary transformation, both inside and out. I’m sure you’ve noticed but let me wrap up the year. Since the Spring, we’ve executed changes in almost every department here, including – • A total overhaul of the SubTel Press Room and Newsfeed. • A thorough Search Engine Optimization (SEO) placing SubTel Forum’s Newsfeed on every major news aggregator service, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo News. • A complete redesign of our flagship SubTel Forum Magazine. • A facelift for the quarterly Almanac, including updated criteria for system inclusion. • A brand-new Ad Purchasing Portal, making ad buying easier and safer than ever. And many, many more back-end changes that help bring news and analysis to you even faster and more reliably than ever. This is easily our busiest time of the year. Coming out over the next eight weeks, you can find your annual favorites from us. As part of our 17th Anniversary Issue, I’m pleased to offer a 17% discount on all advertising purchased through the end of the month. It’s easy to claim, just use the promo code STF17 during your check out in the advertising portal or mention the discount in an email directly to me. The portal may be found here:

76 SUBMARINE TELECOMS MAGAZINE To keep up with the extraordinary pace of development and technological upgrade, SubTel Forum has been actioning these updates and hiring new staff. The reality is that there’s no time for slow development, without quick and agile adjustment, our mission to this industry will fall behind, something we’ve worked too hard and long to allow.

The reality is that there’s no time for slow development, without quick and agile adjustment, our mission to this industry will fall behind, something we’ve worked too hard and long to allow. With that in mind, we’ve continued to grow, adapt and offer even better publications and products to our readers and advertisers. One of the most profound additions that we’ve had this year is the introduction of the new STF Analytics Market Sector Reports. A new series, timed to add detailed analysis to the SubTel Forum Editorial Calendar, each

report delves deeper in to the industry’s sectors as we touch on them in the Magazine throughout the year. Our latest addition, the Submarine Telecoms Market Sector Report follows in the same trend. Produced by the fine minds in STF Analytics, the report is created bi-monthly following the themes set out in the SubTel Forum editorial Calendar. • January – Global Outlook • March – Finance & Legal • May – Global Capacity • July – Regional Systems • September – Offshore Energy – AVAILABLE • November – Data Centers & New Technology – OUT NOW! You can find more about the latest Market Sector here: data-center-ott-report With that, I implore you to enjoy the next round of changes coming to SubTel Forum, the new publications set for release, and of course, make room in your budget for advertising in SubTel Forum! STF Loyally yours,

Kristian Nielsen Vice President

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