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Attention All Sub Cable World Subscribers!

This Friday will be the last New Feed post until Monday, November 27th 2017.

Come back on the 27th and check out the NEW and improved Sub Cable World.

Market Snapshot


Samoa Takes Important Steps to Becoming E-Commerce Ready
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Thursday, 19 October 2017 13:50

The following is an e-Trade Readiness Assessment from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on Samoa.  It is interesting for several reasons, including its assessment of the impact of the planned Tui Samoa submarine cable on e-commerce.  The UNCTAD assessment makes the following points:

The Pacific Island nation of Samoa has made considerable progress in recent years in getting businesses and consumers online but still faces challenges before being fully ready to benefit from e-commerce, the UNCTAD assessment of the country published recently says.

Made up of eight islands sitting halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, the country's isolation fuels high import prices and creates challenges for Samoan entrepreneurs to access global markets and grow their businesses.

By giving exporters direct access to potential clients around the globe and allowing Samoan consumers and businesses to find the best deals for what they import, e-commerce could help the country overcome its geographical disadvantages, the report says.

"As is the case for most small island developing states and especially in the Pacific," the assessment says, "trade logistics constraints remain a key bottleneck for Samoa."

Air transport is the most expensive way to ship goods, yet because most goods Samoans buy and sell online are small parcels, Faleolo International Airport is currently the main entry and exit point. And this takes a toll on businesses' profits and consumers' wallets.

Better port facilities and increased transportation options would make e-commerce less expensive, the assessment says, adding that the lack of a postal addressing system also limits the scope of e-commerce in Samoa.

Government reforms bringing more competition and better regulation to the telecommunications sector have made mobile phones an everyday reality for most of the population. But Internet connections are still unreliable and expensive, keeping more than two thirds of the population offline.

A monthly 2GB ADSL subscription was US$43 in 2015, and a prepaid 3GB data plan for a mobile was US$40, in a country where minimum-wage workers earn just over US$2 an hour.

The government hopes that the arrival of a 1,300-kilometer submarine cable connecting Samoa to Fiji's Southern Cross Cable will boost connectivity and affordability. But the assessment has shown that improved infrastructure alone will not make the island nation e-commerce-ready.

Even if the population is better connected, e-commerce cannot take off if the majority of the population does not have a bank account or credit card and remains skeptical of mobile payment solutions.

"Samoans remain largely unbanked," the report says, adding that only around half the adult population has a bank account or access to other formal services such as credit unions and microfinance.

And cultural beliefs in the value of cash and a general reluctance to trust mobile payments -- only 3.7% of mobile phone owners have a mobile money account -- are preventing online businesses such as Samoamarket and Makeki Online from boosting sales despite increased traffic to their websites.

One of the reasons Samoans seem reluctant to trust online payments, the report says, is an incomplete and at times outdated legal framework.

The top concern, according to the assessment, is consumer protection online, particularly data protection and privacy, for which Samoa has no legislation.

The assessment calls for a thorough review of Samoa's legal framework, despite being one of the most advanced in the region according to UNCTAD's Cyberlaw Tracker.

"While the framework is in place, it seldom covers specific e-commerce aspects," says Cécile Barayre, an UNCTAD legal officer who worked on the assessment.

"One specific challenge is the contradicting and overlapping regulations adopted by different ministries and government agencies," she adds.

But even if more Samoans are connected to the Internet and trust online payment, if they are uninformed of the opportunities e-commerce offers and lack the necessary technological skills, online sales will continue to drag.

"The lack of understanding and awareness of what e-commerce is and how to benefit from it has been a common thread throughout the assessment period," the report says, adding that assistance could focus on small and medium businesses owned by women since current e-commerce facilities are more accessible by well-established male-owned businesses.

The ability to make trade more inclusive and offer opportunities to women and youth -- two segments of the population often left out -- is what makes e-commerce a game changer, says Mere Falemaka, Permanent Representative of the Pacific Islands Forum to the World Trade Organization.

Through the assessment, the government has realized that e-commerce is about more than ICT infrastructure, transport and regulation, and that it requires investment in soft infrastructure and skills, and a thorough, encompassing national e-commerce strategy.

"UNCTAD's e-trade readiness assessments are a first step for Pacific Island countries to develop a coherent national e-commerce policy," Ms. Falemaka says.

The government of Samoa is committed to take advantage of e-commerce, the report says. And with the right vision and concerted efforts to remove persistent bottlenecks, Samoa could become an e-commerce hub for the region.

The Samoa Rapid e-Trade Readiness Assessment, funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework, a multi-donor program for least developed countries, is the third such assessment UNCTAD has done.

It was carried out following a regional workshop on e-commerce in June this year that UNCTAD and the World Trade Organization held with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

The assessment was presented recently at the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and the Digital Economy in Geneva.

The group of experts offers a valuable platform to ensure effective follow-up, which will require development partners that are part of the group to provide timely financial and technical assistance to Samoa.

The previous e-Trade Readiness Assessments were for Bhutan and Cambodia. Next up are the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

 
Check Out These Events at SubNets 2017
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Wednesday, 20 September 2017 12:55

Attendees at Submarine Networks World, taking place September 25-27 at the Suntec Convention & Exhibition Center in Singapore, will have an opportunity to see first-hand how Ciena's GeoMesh Extreme solutions can provide unprecedented capacity, reliably, and simplicity, redefining the economics of owning and operating submarine networks.

Attendees will also be able to hear Ciena insights into the latest trends, challenges and opportunities affecting submarine cable operators.

Demonstrations (Booths 9 and 10):

  • Analytics solutions that allow submarine network operators to gather massive amounts of data from a network and make smarter, data-driven decisions using machine learning and big data analytics. Analytics gives operators the ability to visualize and anticipate potential network and service disruptions before they take place, create more profitable services, and better predict capacity requirements.
  • Bandwidth-on-Demand capabilities allow submarine network operators to offer bandwidth at set levels to address changing customer needs. For example, enterprise customers can schedule increased bandwidth in anticipation of a major event or during peak demand, and then decommission the connection once the event is over.

Speaking Sessions:

  • September 26 at 9:35 SGT: Steve Alexander, Chief Technology Officer, keynote session: “The Shannon Limit, or Opportunity?” Attendees will hear how the Shannon limit is defined, its importance, and how to address the concept with technology solutions.
  • September 26 at 16:55 SGT: Bob Hadaway, Vice President of Merchant Modems, will speak on the “Evaluating the Business of an Open Network” panel.
  • September 27 at 9:20 SGT: Ian Clarke, Vice President of Global Submarine Solutions, will speak on the “New Network Topologies for a Next Generation Internet” panel.
  • Deep Dive Workshop:

September 25 from 13:00 to 17:00 SGT: Ciena will host a pre-conference workshop covering the latest topics and issues facing the submarine cable industry, including: updates on hardware and software solutions to address submarine bandwidth demands, transformation of submarine and terrestrial networks through SDN, and the benefits of the openness movement.

 

 

Deep Blue Cable has announced that its Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Scott and Chief Technology Officer, Alasdair Wilkie, will speak at the Submarine Networks World 2017 conference in Singapore.

On Tuesday, September 26, Mr. Scott will participate in the Global Cable Project Showcase as well as the Project Developer Roundtable.  On Wednesday, September 27, Mr. Wilkie will join executives from Pacific Light Data Communications, Ciena® and P.T. Telekomunikasi Indonesia International for the Keynote Network Design panel, “New Network Topologies for a Next-Gen Internet.”  Later that day, Mr. Wilkie will join executives from Aqua Comms DAC, ASEAN Cableship Pte Ltd, Facebook and Orange Marine for the Marine Operations and Maintenance panel, “Relooking at Maintenance Models to Achieve Greater Efficacy.”

The participation of Deep Blue’s executive leadership at Submarine Networks World follows the company’s announcement this past July that it had contracted with TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity Ltd. Company, to build and deploy the Deep Blue subsea cable system.  The pan-Caribbean system design, which spans nearly 12,000 km with initial landing points in 12 markets throughout the region, is projected to be completed in Q4 of 2019.

WHAT:          

Submarine Networks World 2017

WHERE:

Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre, Singapore

WHEN:         

Global Cable Project Showcase

Tuesday, September 26, 2017         11:50

Project Developers Roundtable

Tuesday, September 26, 2017         14:00

Keynote Network Design Panel

“New Network Topologies for a Next-Gen Internet”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017      9:20

Marine Operations & Maintenance Panel

“Relooking at Maintenance Models to Achieve Greater Efficacy”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017      14:55

WHO:

Keynote Network Design panel members will include:

  • Alasdair Wilkie, Chief Technology Officer, Deep Blue Cable
  • Troy Li, Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Light Data Communications Co.Ltd
  • Ian Clarke, Vice President, Global Submarine Solutions, Ciena Ltd
  • Nanang Hendarno, Chief Technology Officer, P.T. Telekomunikasi Indonesia International

Marine Operations and Maintenance panel members will include:

  • Alasdair Wilkie, Chief Technology Officer, Deep Blue Cable
  • Nigel Bayliff, Chief Executive Officer, Aqua Comms DAC
  • Shiun Jye Too, Chief Executive Officer, ASEAN Cableship Pte Ltd
  • Andy Palmer-Felgate, Submarine Cable Engineer, Facebook
  • Michel Vergnes, Executive Vice President, Orange Marine

 

 

 

Aqua Comms DAC’s Chief Executive Officer, Nigel Bayliff, will be a panel participant and moderator at SubNets 2017 in Singapore.  Mr. Bayliff has more than 25 years of experience encompassing senior executive, operational and technical roles in the global telecommunications industry, including having served as CEO and Board Member of Huawei Marine Networks.

During the panel session, “Building Cables at a Lower Cost, How Much Are You Willing to Give Up?” Mr. Bayliff will join executives from Xtera®, Telstra and Vodafone Group Services Limited in a discussion of current customer expectations, options that can be explored with suppliers to reduce the costs of new cable builds and how suppliers will continue to innovate and push the boundaries of technology.  In addition, Mr. Bayliff will moderate the panel session, “Relooking at Maintenance Models to Achieve Greater Efficacy,” which will feature executives from ASEAN Cableship Pte Ltd, Facebook, Deep Blue Cable and Orange Marine who will discuss the current challenges facing today’s submarine cable maintenance market, including investments into fleet renewals and assessing the potential for greater inter-industry maintenance models.

WHAT:

“Building Cables at a Lower Cost, How Much Are You Willing to Give Up?”

Tuesday, September 26, 2017         2:00 p.m.

“Relooking at Maintenance Models to Achieve Greater Efficacy”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017    2:55 p.m.

WHERE:

Submarine Networks World 2017

Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre, Singapore

WHO:

“Building Cables” panel members will include:

  • Nigel Bayliff, CEO, Aqua Comms
  • Joerg Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Turnkey Systems, Xtera
  • John Garrett, Head of Strategic Transactions & IRU, Telstra
  • Stephen Dawe, Engineering & Business Development Manager, Submarine Systems Engineering, Vodafone Group Services

“Relooking at Maintenance Models” panel members will include:

  • Moderator: Nigel Bayliff, CEO, Aqua Comms
  • Shiun Jye Too, CEO, ASEAN Cableship Pte Ltd
  • Andy Palmer-Felgate, Submarine Cable Engineer, Facebook
  • Alasdair Wilkie, Chief Technology Officer, Deep Blue Cable
  • Michel Vergnes, Executive Vice President, Orange Marine
 
The Economic Impact of Submarine Cable Outages Can Still be Enormous
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Monday, 21 August 2017 12:21

There have been a number of submarine fiber optic cable outages recently.  Most reportedly have caused at most only limited disruptions in the areas they serve; the impact mitigated by having adequate diversity and disaster recovery plans to re-route traffic to other cables.  But there are still events that remind us how devastating even a brief outage can be to an Internet-dependent economy.

Somalia was connected to the global submarine cable network in 2013.  Even so, a result of 20 years of internal conflict that devastated the country’s infrastructure, Internet usage remains low.  But when Somalia’s only cable was cut by a ship’s anchor in June, the results were dramatic.  For nearly three weeks, Somalia had virtually no Internet access.  While end users were annoyed and inconvenienced, we were reminded of the economic cost potential of an outage when Somali Post and Telecommunications Minister Abdi Anshur Hassan called it a “major disaster."  The BBC reported that the impact of the outage amounted to more than US$130 million.  To put that number in perspective, Somalia’s GDP in 2016 was only US$6.22 billion. 

Recently, Pakistan suffered a disruption of about 38 hours due to faults on two of the six international submarine cables serving the country.  While the efforts of the telecom authorities in Pakistan limited the duration of the disruption by moving traffic to other cables, several airline flights had to be cancelled and the cost to the Pakistani economy was put at US$10 million. 

Coincidentally, Pakistan’s telecom regulator, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), had only days before released a consultation document on new licenses for Long Distance & International (LDI) operators.  The document lamented the failure of previous licensing efforts to add enough new cables to meet the ever increasing demand of data services and to provide redundancy and provision of cross-country connectivity to neighboring countries.”  The document calls for new LDI licensees to be required to build, either on their own or in a consortium, a new international submarine cable within 10 years of the receipt of the license.

 
iflix Secures Additional $133 Million Funding, Led by Hearst
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Thursday, 17 August 2017 08:01

It is hard to over-estimate the impact that streaming video will have in developing markets and how it may impact bandwidth demand.  The latest announcement from iflix, the world’s leading Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service for emerging markets, is another indication of the potential for this market. 

Iflix announced that it has completed a $133 million funding round as it continues to deliver on its vision of bringing the world’s best entertainment to its audiences.

The funding round, which attracted significant interest from both new investors and existing shareholders, was led by Hearst, one of America’s largest diversified media, information and services companies, and also included additional new investors Singapore-based EDBI and clients of DBS private bank. Existing shareholders Evolution Media, Sky PLC, Catcha Group, Liberty Global, Jungle Ventures and PLDT Inc. also increased their investments.

Since going live in May 2015, iflix rapidly established a clear leadership position in emerging markets, setting a new standard for delivering a world-class streaming entertainment service focused on local customer experiences. Over the last 12 months, the service has seen extraordinary growth across all segments of the business, expanding from four markets to 19 across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The company has additionally built deep integrated distribution partnerships with 27 leading telecommunications operators to bundle the iflix service with customers’ mobile and data subscriptions, all sponsored by the telecommunications provider.

During the period, iflix also achieved tremendous growth across subscriber numbers and engagement by 3x and 2x respectively, and recorded some of the highest average active mobile viewing durations of any service in the world at 2.5-2.75 hours per session. The company saw 230 percent growth in year on year revenue, and increased its commitment to localization, producing 26,000 hours of subtitles in nine languages, with locally-curated content in every market. iflix’s full content library showcases thousands of award-winning and iconic first run programs and library content from over 230 studio partners from 30 countries.

The new round brings total funding raised by iflix this calendar year to an excess of $220 million. Proceeds from the round will be used to invest in its local content strategy. iflix recently unveiled its first exclusive original production, Oi Jaga Mulut, a stand-up comedy series, which since debuting in Malaysia last week, has skyrocketed to the leading show on the service. Partnering with TVOne, iflix also launched live premiere football streaming, available for the first time in Indonesia, which immediately became one of the highest performing shows there with more than 34,000 unique viewers tuning in the first week of airing. Last week, iflix Philippines announced its collaboration with the Philippines’ Kris Aquino, to commission an original drama series.

iflix was advised by Moelis & Company LLC, Delta Partners and Herbert Smith Freehills on the transaction.

 
iflix Secures Additional $133 Million Funding, Led by Hearst
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Monday, 14 August 2017 14:02

It is hard to over-estimate the impact that streaming video will have in developing markets and how it may impact bandwidth demand.  The latest announcement from iflix, the world’s leading Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service for emerging markets, is another indication of the potential for this market. It demonstrates the confidence investors have in streaming entertainment video in the developing world.  Utlimately, demand for video services will lead to demand for additional bandwidth on submarine cables, not just in Indonesia and the Philippines as noted in the release below, but in Africa and the Middle East.  In May, iflix announced plans to dramatically expand in Sub-Saharan Africa.  

iflix Announcement:

Iflix announced that it has completed a $133 million funding round as it continues to deliver on its vision of bringing the world’s best entertainment to its audiences.

The funding round, which attracted significant interest from both new investors and existing shareholders, was led by Hearst, one of America’s largest diversified media, information and services companies, and also included additional new investors Singapore-based EDBI and clients of DBS private bank. Existing shareholders Evolution Media, Sky PLC, Catcha Group, Liberty Global, Jungle Ventures and PLDT Inc. also increased their investments.

Since going live in May 2015, iflix rapidly established a clear leadership position in emerging markets, setting a new standard for delivering a world-class streaming entertainment service focused on local customer experiences. Over the last 12 months, the service has seen extraordinary growth across all segments of the business, expanding from four markets to 19 across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The company has additionally built deep integrated distribution partnerships with 27 leading telecommunications operators to bundle the iflix service with customers’ mobile and data subscriptions, all sponsored by the telecommunications provider.

During the period, iflix also achieved tremendous growth across subscriber numbers and engagement by 3x and 2x respectively, and recorded some of the highest average active mobile viewing durations of any service in the world at 2.5-2.75 hours per session. The company saw 230 percent growth in year on year revenue, and increased its commitment to localization, producing 26,000 hours of subtitles in nine languages, with locally-curated content in every market. iflix’s full content library showcases thousands of award-winning and iconic first run programs and library content from over 230 studio partners from 30 countries.

The new round brings total funding raised by iflix this calendar year to an excess of $220 million. Proceeds from the round will be used to invest in its local content strategy. iflix recently unveiled its first exclusive original production, Oi Jaga Mulut, a stand-up comedy series, which since debuting in Malaysia last week, has skyrocketed to the leading show on the service. Partnering with TVOne, iflix also launched live premiere football streaming, available for the first time in Indonesia, which immediately became one of the highest performing shows there with more than 34,000 unique viewers tuning in the first week of airing. Last week, iflix Philippines announced its collaboration with the Philippines’ Kris Aquino, to commission an original drama series.

iflix was advised by Moelis & Company LLC, Delta Partners and Herbert Smith Freehills on the transaction.

 
ADB Sees Improved Growth Prospects for Developing Asia
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Tuesday, 01 August 2017 08:20

Economic growth prospects in developing Asia for 2017 have improved on the back of stronger-than-expected export demand in the first quarter of this year, according to a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.

In a supplement to its Asian Development Outlook 2017 report, ADB upgraded its growth outlook in the region from 5.7% to 5.9% in 2017 and from 5.7% to 5.8% for 2018. The smaller uptick in the 2018 rate reflects a cautious view on the sustainability of this export push.

“Developing Asia is off to a good start this year with improved exports pushing growth prospects for the rest of 2017,” said Yasuyuki Sawada, ADB’s Chief Economist. “Despite lingering uncertainties surrounding the strength of the global recovery, we feel that the region’s economies are well-placed to face potential shocks to the outlook.”

Combined growth for the major industrial economies is forecast to remain at 1.9% in 2017 and 2018. Improved forecasts for the euro area and Japan due to robust domestic demand have offset the slight growth downturn in the US to 2.2% from the previously projected 2.4% as a result of disappointing first quarter results in 2017.

By subregion, growth for East Asia is revised upward to 6.0% in 2017 and 5.7% in 2018 from the original projections of 5.8% and 5.6%, respectively. After recent growth moderation, an increase in net exports and domestic consumption has improved growth prospects in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The world’s second largest economy is now expected to expand by 6.7% in 2017 and 6.4% in 2018.

South Asia will remain the fastest growing of all subregions in Asia and the Pacific, with growth on track to meet original projections of 7.0% in 2017 and 7.2% in 2018, according to the report. India — the subregion’s largest economy — is expected to achieve previous growth projections of 7.4% in 2017 and 7.6% in 2018, primarily from strong consumption.

Growth projections for Southeast Asia are expected to remain at 4.8% in 2017 and 5.0% in 2018, with accelerating growth for Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, although this trend is slightly dampened by the slower-than-anticipated expansion in Brunei Darussalam. Robust domestic demand — particularly private consumption and investment — will continue to support growth in the subregion, according to the report.

The outlook for Central Asia this year has also improved as stronger domestic demand and exports in some countries have fueled an unexpected recovery in the subregion. Growth is expected to reach 3.2% in 2017 and 3.8% in 2018 compared to the 3.1% and 3.5% original projections, respectively.

Growth in the Pacific is expected to remain at 2.9% in 2017 and 3.3% in 2018 with Papua New Guinea — the subregion’s largest economy — continuing its gradual recovery due to rebounding mining and agriculture industries. Stronger tourism prospects are also expected to drive growth further in the subregion, particularly in Fiji and Palau.

Consumer price inflation in the region, meanwhile, is projected to be lower from the previous estimate on the back of steady international oil and food prices despite increasing demand due to enough supplies and favorable weather conditions. Price inflation is now expected to drop to 2.6% in 2017 and 3.0% in 2018 compared to the original projections of 3.0% and 3.2%, respectively.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

 
Xtera Execs Talk about Technology and the Company’s Future
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Monday, 24 July 2017 17:56

Editor’s Note:

In January, H.I.G. Capital had acquired substantially all the assets of Xtera Communications, Inc.  In a statement made at the time, H.I.G. Capital said that under its ownership, “Xtera’s management and technical team would remain at the helm of the business, focused on successfully executing key existing customer contracts and expanding the business in the rapidly growing markets it serves with a clear roadmap of disruptive product launches.”

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Robert Richardson, Founder and Chief Sales Officer of Xtera, and Tony Frisch, Chief Technology Officer, about the company in light of the new investment.  The following are their views on the company’s outlook and technological advances.

Richardson: The future looks very bright for Xtera.  I think we have a very strong investment partner in H.I.G. Capital.  They’re a $22 billion fund.  They are not a short-term investor.  Their typical investment cycle is about 7 years on average but they have some investments they’ve been involved with for over 10 years.  They certainly understand our business because they spent a lot of time visiting with customers, and they understand that the submarine business is a cyclical one.

Frisch: We originally got into the subsea cable business because we had a lot of experienced and energetic people who wanted to do more than build terminal equipment.  Customers encouraged us to build a subsea repeater. 

In doing so we did a couple of things a little differently.  We decided to build not just a simple EDFA, but to add Raman to it because we had a lot of expertise on that inside the company.  We felt that by putting Raman we could get a better noise figure.  With the Raman, we’re getting some pre-amplification in the 30 kilometers of fiber coming into the repeater, so that’s acting as a low level amplifier rather than acting as a loss.  And we could use that Raman to improve the noise figure or to extend the bandwidth of the amplifier.  We currently have 55 nm, moving up to about 65 nm this year. We also have sold that unit in a reduced 35 nm bandwidth allowing us to get up to 140 km spans without spending a lot of money on expensive fiber. 

With 65 nm, we are capable of more than 40 Tbps per fiber pair this year and in the lab we’ve run in excess of 80 nm.  Depending on the market demand, we could move to production on 80 nm at some point in the future. 

The question of customer demand is a very interesting one.  When we first started making this repeater, of course the first thing we were concerned about was making sure that we tested every aspect of it.  So for the sea trials, we fitted the repeater with a whole set of sensors – pressure sensors (to know if anything was leaking into the repeater under pressure), accelerometers, temperature sensors and so on.  The intention was to strip the sensors out in the production model, but actually we had customers on board the ship looking at all this stuff and they were saying “No, don’t take them out.”  The customers recognized that the sensors were not designed to be super reliable, but as long as they are working, they tell them something useful. 

Particularly, the customers had seen the accelerometers, which are telling you what’s going on with the repeater as it goes down to the seabed.  One of them made the interesting point that if the ship knew that the customer could tell how carefully they were handling the repeater they would be a little bit more inclined to handle it really nicely.  So we kept that accelerometer in there and we also discovered a couple of other interesting things.  A lot of these ships have some really sophisticated software that monitors how fast the train is going out, the angle of the cable in the water, etc.  Using this data, they try to predict where the repeater comes down onto the seabed.  But I think we discovered on the first sea trial that they can be half an hour wrong and that means that you have a fairly poor idea what happens during the lay without the information from the accelerometer.  People we talked to said that’s the stuff they’d really like to have.  It also means they can monitor the repeater on the seabed and just be sure that it really is working. 

Richardson: Something that is really interesting is the idea of data center-to-data center connectivity.  We initially pushed this idea about 11 or 12 years ago at Submarine Network World and it didn’t get a great reception at that point in time, but I think the world has changed.

Frisch: This was a very simple and straightforward idea that seems now to be catching on.  If you really want to get the traffic inland, the smart thing to do is to pick up the submarine terminal and put that inland, rather than having the submarine terminal close to the beach and then a terrestrial terminal at the data center, PoP, or whatever.  That’s now something that I think a lot of people are doing.  We’re hoping, and it’s something that were doing work on, to take some of the electronics used in a subsea repeater and put them into a dry unit that can be used pretty much anywhere. 

The intention is not just a simple extension, but using a consistent piece of technology so that you don’t end up using a subsea amplifier and then a terrestrial amplifier.  It would also have some of the advantages that you get with a submarine amplifier, which has to be very reliable because it is so expensive to repair a subsea amplifier.

I think that one thing we will be looking at, again depending on customer demand, is the notion of putting what looks like a land-adapted version of a subsea repeater that has duplicated pumps and duplicated control units and putting that into a package that can be installed in a rack and powered off the local supply.  If one of the pumps fails, it won’t impact the service at all, it will just raise an alarm back in the data center and someone will realize that at some point they need to go out and replace it.  You can do it during a scheduled maintenance window rather than rushing out immediately because they have an outage. 

And along with that we’ve been looking hard at this whole business of open systems.  I think everyone is saying they’re doing it or willing to do it.  I think long-term this is suits us.  We’ve been involved for more than three years talking to customers about open systems and the fact that our recent commercial strategy has been to focus on the submarine, makes it very much more natural for us to say let’s go really open and not try and fudge the issue.  We don’t have any problem being open.

Richardson: In fact, we have a couple of buyers who are bringing their equipment into our lab for testing to verify that their equipment will work with our undersea technology and our open systems gateway.  We were the pioneers of the whole idea of idea of upgrades and open systems are in our DNA.  I think more importantly that’s where the market shift has been, particularly with the idea of people buying fiber pairs -- now each company owning pairs within the cable has a different supplier that they want to use.  They don’t want to have something unique for their undersea, they want the whole network in totality.  So I think embracing open systems is simply the way the network is evolving. 

One of the big things that came out of our discussions with customers is that they also want to deal with spectrum.  Because of the large amount of bandwidth available from our repeaters it may be better to sell spectrum than fiber pairs.  What we’ve done with our technology is design something that actually embraces selling "virtual" fiber pairs or spectrum.  If you want to sell a fiber pair as a submarine cable owner and you want something to put on there, that’s fine.  If you are a network owner and you want to sell spectrum, you can sell it off yourself because you have such a high amount of bandwidth you can sell and we have techniques to make that easy and managed it like it’s a physical asset as opposed to a virtual asset. 

Frisch: I think that’s one of the key problems that people don’t tend to think about.  You can have customers using products from different vendors.  And if you have to disconnect your terminal because you have to do some maintenance on it and you need to make sure that whatever equipment is facing all these different inputs is capable of making sure that none of them disappear or when something goes wrong it doesn’t impact the other guys.  That’s not fantastically complicated, but when you are taking into account failures and security issues, it’s something cable operators need to think about.  It’s more complicated that sometimes is appreciated. 

Richardson: There will be some interesting news coming out of Xtera in the next few months.  This will show that not only are the customers behind us – voting with their wallets -- but that they also are very supportive of us.  They see that we bring innovation and change to the marketplace.  They invite that.

 
NJFX CEO: “We Provide Options”
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Thursday, 20 July 2017 10:39

Editor’s Note:

In September 2016, NJFX formally unveiled its data center campus located adjacent to the submarine cable landing station in Wall Township, New Jersey. The colorfully named “Tier 3 by the Subsea” was the first of its kind in the industry, disrupting the traditional backhaul model and redefining proximity by providing direct interconnection options at the cable-head without recurring costs on cross-connects.

“NJFX is doing something that no company has ever done before,” Gil Santaliz, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of NJFX, said at the September launch. “The unique location of our campus enables unprecedented access to a number of the most sought after subsea and terrestrial assets transporting traffic nationally, as well as internationally. NJFX ensures our customers receive the flexible, reliable and secure connectivity they require to support their growing business needs.”

Since September, NJFX’s facility has continued to develop. Another expansion phase was completed in January and the concept has clearly resonated within the industry as more submarine and terrestrial cable operators make connections.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Santaliz about NJFX and what the future may hold:

Santaliz: “We have several billion dollars’ worth of assets sitting in our NJFX Campus now. We have three transatlantic cables -- two Tata Communications cables, which were there when we arrived, and now Aquacomms has come in and installed their equipment in the building to provide a third way across to Europe with their AEconnect cable. Seaborn Network’s new Seabras-1 cable from the US to Brazil also will be connected when it becomes ready for service this summer. So we are continuing to be unique. We are up to four subsea cables and we’re rivalling any location in the US or the world in terms of having so much subsea cable capacity in one place.

We provide options. You can bypass New York City by using Tata from Ashburn, Virginia, or any part of the US. We have alternate paths across the Atlantic. We have two ways to apply access to Seabras-1. TI Sparkle, which purchased three fiber pairs on Seabras-1, has taken residence in our facility, and the cable also can be accessed through Tata. There’s one cross-connect in the building rather than going all around New York or New Jersey, thus reducing latency and increasing efficiency.

On the US side, we’ve had Lightower come in and install their network and they’re about to put in a second cable in the building for diversity. Altice (formerly CableVision Lightpath) has installed their network. We always had Windstream offering capacity at our facility and we’re talking to Zayo about increasing the capacity it has. So we are the center of the universe between the US, Europe and South America -- between the US domestic fiber networks and the European and South America cable operators.

We made a decision about three months ago to take an opportunity to expand our property. We were always a 10-acre site with Tata and we are finalizing our joint venture to expand to 48 more acres. We had a large Fortune 100 company knock on our door and the amount of space they wanted from us exceeded what we could do for them, so we took the initiative to take up 48 more acres. We also expanded our relationship with the electric utility and now we can offer not only Tier 3 but Tier 4 for additional and increment space.

We need to all think differently because the world is changing so quickly. The telecommunications network is a global platform and the assets should reflect how we currently operate. People expect things to work whether you’re in Denmark or Frankfurt or Latin America. Content needs to move. Latency is important. Diversity is important. Our model is to give customers reliable, high-performance, reduced cost access to critical submarine cable assets so that they can do business, provide services and support all these new ideas that people have out there in the increasingly dynamic world.

 
Seaborn Execs Talk about Seabras-1 as It Nears RFS
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Wednesday, 19 July 2017 07:19

Editor’s Note:

On June 13, Seaborn Networks announced that the Brazil marine landing of Seabras-1, Seaborn’s submarine cable system between New York and São Paulo was successfully completed.  With the construction phase of the 10,700-kilometer-long cable system coming to an end, this will bring a vast amount of new capacity to the Brazil - US route. 

One week later, I sat down at the Telecom Exchange (TEX) conference in New York City with Paul Creelman, Seaborn’s Director of Business Development, and Thasha Carey, a Network Operations Center (NOC) Manager for Seaborn, to get the latest on the project as Seabras-1 nears its RFS. 

Click here to see a video about Seabras-1.

Creelman: “This is a really exciting time for Seaborn and the whole team that worked on Seabras-1. We are now putting in the final connections and cross-connects and anticipate turning services on in August.  This cable is the only direct point-to-point cable between the commercial centers of Brazil and the USA.  Seabras-1 will drive greater Internet connectivity and improved reliability and stability to the region, while reducing points of failure that other systems are prone to experience.  Seaborn also has a proprietary lowest latency solution for this route. Known as SeaSpeed, this caters to the most demanding financial customers. Beyond SeaSpeed, even our carrier class solutions for OTTs and carriers offer a step-change in improved latency when compared to existing offerings in the market.

In addition to being an independent operator, we have our own Seaborn-staffed NOC in New Jersey and an additional Seaborn NOC in Massachusetts. Thasha is one of our NOC Managers and can attest to the Seaborn staff’s competence and skill sets.”

Carey: “Most of the NOC engineers that work for Seaborn have been in the industry for more than a decade.  And we have significant experience in network design and architecture. I myself have been in the submarine cable industry for 14 years.  We definitely have a great team with diverse backgrounds.”

Creelman: “There is existing subsea infrastructure between the US and Brazil, however it has aged out.  Ultimately the cables that are in the water today can’t really offer long-term IRU contracts anymore.  They have served their purpose well and brought connectivity to Brazil.  However Seabras-1 being the newest and most significant system to be built in years, and the only direct one between NY and Sao Paulo, has redefined the quality expected on the route. Having a new cable offering faster, more up to date tech and equipment has really disrupted the market, which was a fundamental objective of our business plan.

As the industry has long recognized, reliability has been a real issue for the existing subsea services and systems that land in Brazil.  That’s not due to the subsea piece, but is more to do with the overhead terrestrial fiber in Brazil backhaul and metro networks. Seaborn, on the other hand, invested in trenching and burying 100% of our backhaul and metro fiber.  The uptime that we can offer because of this will significantly change the market and the customer experience and I think that’s really important.  It’s bringing everything into the 21st Century, so to speak.

As we continue to focus on bringing Seabras-1 to RFS, there are other projects that we are working on.  For example, we’ve recently announced the ARBR project that we and The Werthein Group are building from Brazil to Argentina. Some of our new projects leverage the fact that we own and operate Seabras-1, while others are in fundamentally different geographies. Seaborn is a unique platform play; the company has been designed from the ground up to develop and operate the next generation of subsea routes and to work closely with OTTs and carriers as a neutral developer-owner-operator.”

 
GTT Exec Talks about Company's Vision, Interest in Submarine Cables
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Thursday, 13 July 2017 11:50

Editor’s Note:

One of the biggest developments in the submarine cable industry in the first half 2017 was the acquisition of Hibernia Networks and its three transatlantic cables by GTT Communications Inc.  I had the opportunity to talk to Chris McKee, General Counsel and EVP Corporate Development for GTT, at the Telecom Exchange (TEX) conference in NYC recently.  Chris talked about GTT’s business and how the acquisition of Hibernia’s cables fits into their strategy for the global enterprise and carrier market.

“GTT is here to serve the connectivity needs of the largest multinationals in the world.  Whether it’s the Fortune 1000 customers and their connectivity needs or the carriers and their connectivity needs, we want to be the one that is providing that global data connectivity.  

What helps you address that?  Some of the largest bandwidth users were customers of Hibernia, as we were.  So we asked ourselves: 

  • Where is greatest connectivity demand?  Transatlantic
  • Where do we as a large carrier spend money?  Transatlantic
  • Where do our largest customers spend money?  Transatlantic

As we are heavily into the financial markets vertical, on which routes is there a high volume of exchange trading activity? Transatlantic

We never said, “You know, we really want to own a subsea cable one of these days.”  We don’t think like that.  We think, “What resources do we need to address what our customers need.”  And that kept bringing us back to Hibernia.

There were only a few customers that Hibernia had that we didn’t have (mostly in the financial markets vertical), but the acquisition offered the opportunity to go deeper.  For a typical financial customer, we were doing their WAN, we were doing their branch offices, now we can do their trading.  Many of our competitors are large incumbents.  Any additional services that we can provide our customers are big for us.

Even though we have decent coverage in the Fortune 1000 companies, we’re still a relatively small share of the market.  We keep looking at the assets, the capabilities, the products and the people.  What are the overall assets we need to best serve our target market?  And that brought us again right back to Hibernia.  We’re not a “build it and they will come” company.  We wait until there’s a proven business case and our customers are demanding it and then we say we want part of that.  

It’s the same with Perseus Telecom (a U.S. based high performance connectivity provider with low latency services to Latin America, Asia-Pacific, India and Africa that GTT acquired in June).  We had a desire to be in Brazil.  It’s a difficult market to get into if you’re not already there.  Perseus invested significant resources to establish themselves in that market.  

Perseus is a relatively small deal for us but it added 32 PoPs across the globe.  Just being able to expand geographically into new and growing markets, with a heavy focus on the financials, is big for us.  And that brings us back to subsea cables.  I love having the trading revenue between NY and London, but they’re also trading to Mumbai, to Marseille, to Milan, to Frankfurt, to San Paulo and to Tokyo.  We want to capture more of that.  You’ll see us doing deals that say if our customers are doing that, we want to provide it.  

In everything to do with telecom, scale provides advantage. As we expand geographically, we are adding significant scale.  We want to take what we do successfully for our customers and expand it to other customers, to other geographies.  That’s the idea behind it.  I’ve said it before, the transatlantic market is the hottest, most aggressive, most mature market in the world.  But there’s a reason why new cable projects are propagating in other parts of the world.  I still feel that the Pacific is underserved by the current cable infrastructure.  With GTT being a renter of lines rather than an owner, we see a need for customers to have better options.  I think that’s the next big frontier.  If you look at the demand and the bits that need to be moved in the Pacific, it seems to be 5-10 years behind where the Atlantic is.  

Then there are the emerging markets.  Right now, the OTTs are not putting their data centers there.  There are hundreds of millions or even billions of customers in the emerging markets who will need to be served.  Data center deployments will drive submarine cable demand.  I think that’s coming.  We want to be there to address the connectivity demands of large customers as those emerging markets develop, as we already serve the large OTTs on the transatlantic corridor.

The model for submarine cables that is being talked about right now is to get that OTT anchor tenant to justify the build and get off the ground.  We’re the operating partner.  We’re not in competition with the builders.  At the end of the day, we’re not as interested owning a bunch of fiber pairs that we can then monetize over a period of use.  We’re an operator.  We want lit capacity that we can use.  The model for us going forward is that we could be a partner to the submarine cable builders and investors who are doing drawing board designs and feasibility studies.  We’ll be in a position with our customer base to say yes, we’ve got you connected to Tokyo; we’ve got you connected to Sydney.  You want a high-speed connection between London and Mumbai?  We can also do that.  That’s our vision – connecting our customers to anywhere in the world, no matter the application.”

 
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