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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.”

 
Sub Cable World NewsFeed for July 12, 2017
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 13:07

Here's what happens when a new submarine fiber optic cable enters service in a remote region:

"DOCOMO PACIFIC LAUNCHES THE WIDEST 4G LTE NETWORK IN THE MARIANAS

DOCOMO PACIFIC announces the widest 4G LTE network is now live in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. With the addition of 29 new cell sites throughout the CNMI, customers can now experience fast and consistent 4G LTE coverage across the islands with no additional roaming charges throughout Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. DOCOMO PACIFIC’s 4G LTE launch allows customers to instantly update their Facebook stream, zip through YouTube videos, effortlessly send pictures through WhatsApp, or stream the latest movies on Netflix. As we continue to expand our coverage throughout the Marianas, DOCOMO PACIFIC is committed to connecting customers where they live, work, and play. With 4G LTE, DOCOMO PACIFIC customers can now experience the full capability of the latest applications on the island’s largest selection of mobile devices and accessories available at any of DOCOMO PACIFIC’s store locations."

Docomo Pacific's ATISA submarine cable connecting Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota entered service only a month ago.  Cables connecting remote populations often result in new investment and new services; improving quality of life and economic opportunities.  

 
vXchnge CEO: “It’s All about the Edge"
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Thursday, 06 July 2017 10:41

Editor’s Note:

What’s happening in the data center market is becoming more important to those of us in the submarine cable industry with each passing day.  Gone are the days of a simple formula for bringing submarine cable traffic to the national network : landing station-to-backhaul-to-PoP.  Now, each month brings new announcements highlighting the convergence of submarine cables with the broader domestic fiber optic network in the United States.  Data centers and colocation facilities are becoming as much a part of the submarine cable network as the cable station.  In some cases, they are one in the same.

Given this, it is important for the submarine cable industry to keep abreast of developments in the data center market.  At the recent Telecom Exchange (TEX) conference in New York City, I had a chance to sit down with Keith Olsen, the energetic CEO of vXchnge; a rapidly growing data center operator.  As it turned out, we didn’t discuss submarine cables at all, but Keith’s insights into the data center market are fascinating and our industry needs to hear the viewpoints of executives like Keith as the submarine cable and data center markets become further enmeshed with one another. 

“vXchnge is a relatively young company when you think about the data center business.  The company’s management team had built a successful data center business in the 2000s to 2010 with 34 data centers. We took the company public, ran a very successful operation and then were bought by Equinix. 

While most of the management team went to Equinix, I retired.  Then the team came to me and said, “We want to do it again and you have to come out of retirement.”

So we sat down and studied the ebb and flow of things that were going on in the industry and what our strengths were.  Our model the previous time was really interesting.  It was counter to some of the big thinking that was going on that said that there were six mega markets for data centers in the US -- the Bay Area, LA, Chicago, Dallas, NYC and DC.  And yet, we built data centers in markets like Seattle, Toronto, and Atlanta outside of the big markets. And people said, Keith, why do you build in these secondary markets?  I don’t look at these as secondary (or primary or tertiary), I look at them and say, “Are they vibrant?”  Why would I want to build just where the puck has been?  I consider myself a telegeographer, not a technologist.  I study trade routes, telecom routes – looking for patterns of progress. 

As we looked at the next iteration, we felt that our thesis was pretty strong.  Atlanta, Seattle and Toronto had turned out to be among Equinix’s fastest growing markets.

So where did we want to fit in?  What’s the next group of markets?  We looked at fundamental research on demographics.  What is the population density?  This is very important to any network-based service.  How many businesses in the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) have over 100 full-time employees (FTEs), 500 FTEs.  How many have strong metro, regional and local fiber networks.  Where’s the wireless investment.  Of MSA’s 5 to 35, which ones have strong GDP growth and are in need of data center capital deployment?  We presented our thesis to our primary financial sponsor and said here’s the business model that we’re thinking about.  They said it resonates. 

It’s all about the edge.  There are multiple great operating models in the data center business.  There are these big footprints.  They make sense for large deployments.  Then there’s the edge.  We take those demographics and say we think this is where the next iteration of deployments are going to be necessary. 

So we went in thinking about the Portlands, Austins, Pittsburghs, Nashvilles, etc.  We also believe that the former Rust Belt of the US will be in the next decade a very significant manufacturing area – high-tech manufacturing with robotics.  The area has inexpensive power, water resources and strong transport networks.  Trade requires networks, networks require locations to operate from. 

vXchnge started a little over three years ago.  We’re in 14 markets right now; some acquired, some built, some enhanced.  And we’ll continue to look at the right types of properties.  Not necessarily buying companies.  We may buy assets.  Because right now it’s a very hot market and you have to pay very high premiums if you want to buy companies. 

We’ve brought things to the market, especially enterprise and energy.  We have strong competitors.  They have big brands.  We show people the nuances - where we fit and where they fit, and neither one wants to do each other’s role.  We have terrific clients that range from the globals to the emerging growth startups.  We’re scaling up.  We started with 4 employees, now we are at 200 and we have a strong track record of recruiting good people.”

The key to running a good data center business is to be the air -- invisible.  I want to be invisible.  We put in 10-year batteries and swap them out every 5 years.  Why?  Because as long as we’re providing good, reliable services, we are invisible.  If you have good clean air, the customers come.”  

 
State of the Submarine Fiber Optic Cable Industry
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Wednesday, 05 July 2017 16:57

Being in the submarine fiber optic cable industry is a lot like being a Boston Red Sox fan – no matter how well things are going, you are always convinced that disaster is right around the corner.

Right now in the industry, there is a lot of talk of imminent disaster, even though the industry is witnessing some of its best times.  We all know why this is happening.  Many of us experienced the collapse of the market 15 years ago and none of us want to go through that again. 

Given this backdrop, we felt it timely to comment on the issue.  Back in 2011, we decided to take on the question of the boom and bust nature of the submarine fiber optic cable market, as those of you who subscribe to our Radar Screen Report are well aware.  At that time, the market was in a surprisingly steady period; something not typical for submarine cables.  This period lasted from 2009 to 2013.  Demand was stable, but at a low level.  Some projects could and did get funded, but not enough for the industry to thrive.  Still, it wasn’t a bust either.  There were few bankruptcies and, overall, the market grew.  The industry may not have been thriving, but it was surviving.

In 2011 in the Radar Screen Report, supplemented by the daily news in the NewsFeed, we began identifying and monitoring the driving and constraining forces acting on demand.  These had reached an equilibrium from 2009-2013, resulting in the consistent but lackluster demand noted above. 

In 2014, this equilibrium was broken by several factors that together made financing more accessible to submarine cable developers.  This had the effect of allowing a wave of new cable projects to get funded, well beyond anything seen in the previous five years. 

Over the past two-and-one-half years, a new equilibrium seems to have developed.  This one is considerably higher than the 2009-2013 period but still well below the spike seen in 2014.  Again, this change can be largely attributed to the greater availability of financing, the lack of which was a major constraining factor before 2014.  So the move of the availability of financing from constrainer to driver was a fundamental change in the submarine fiber optic cable market. 

So what does all this mean for the question of disaster on the horizon?  As it took a fundamental change in the factors impacting the market to create the current high demand levels in the industry, it will take a similarly fundamental alteration to bring about a collapse.  There are many scenarios that potentially could cause a change in demand factors and we are monitoring events that impact those factors daily, but to date we have not seen convincing evidence that such a change is imminent. 

Red Sox fans are in a perpetual state of worry of impending doom, even after winning a World Series.  The submarine fiber optic cable industry may not be quite as bad as that, but it is always a good idea to be vigilant.  We will keep monitoring the key factors in the submarine cable market and reporting on them in the NewsFeed and Radar Screen Report.

 
Akamai: Global Average Connection Speed Increases 15% YoY
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Wednesday, 14 June 2017 13:05

Akamai Technologies, Inc. announced the release of its First Quarter, 2017 State of the Internet Report. Based on data gathered from the Akamai Intelligent Platform, the report provides insight into key global statistics such as connection speeds, broadband adoption metrics, notable Internet disruptions, IPv4 exhaustion and IPv6 implementation.

Data and graphics from the First Quarter, 2017 State of the Internet Report can be found on the Akamai State of the Internet site and through the Akamai State of the Internet app for iOS and Android devices. State of the Internet Report-related discussions are also taking place on the Akamai Community.

Highlights from Akamai's First Quarter, 2017 State of the Internet Report:

  • Global average connection speed was 7.2 Mbps (an increase of 15% year over year).
  • Global average peak connection speed increased 28% year over year to 44.6 Mbps in the first quarter.
  • South Korea again had the highest average connection speed globally at 28.6 Mbps in the first quarter.
  • Singapore had the highest peak connection speed at 184.5 Mbps in the first quarter.
  • Global 4, 10, 15 and 25 Mbps broadband adoption rates increased 13%, 29%, 33% and 42% year over year, respectively.
  • Average mobile connection speeds ranged from a high of 26 Mbps in the United Kingdom to a low of 2.8 Mbps in Venezuela.
  • Germany had the highest peak mobile connection speed at 200 Mbps in the first quarter.
  • Among the qualifying surveyed countries/regions, 37 had an average mobile connection speed at or exceeding the 10 Mbps broadband threshold (up from 30 in the previous quarter), while 70 achieved average speeds at or above the 4 Mbps broadband level (up from 58).
 
Konnect Africa Set to Reshape the Satellite Broadband Industry
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Saturday, 10 June 2017 07:31

With new-generation services starting in Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda, Konnect Africa is confirming its bold ambitions for Sub-Saharan Africa. The company’s innovative service offerings and products, included packaged offers inspired by ‘pay as you go’ models and Wi-Fi hotspots schemes, have already convinced a number of local operators, telecom companies and resellers. With products aligned with the preferences and habits of end-users, Konnect Africa is making a strong push with a double objective: to be a partner of choice on the continent and to demonstrate how satellite technology is today the most relevant solution for unlocking access to the Internet in Africa. 

Konnect Africa’s first partners include a wide range of operators, each with its specific DNA:

AfrikaNet GoSat, already active in the broadband-based internet telephone, VOIP options and provision of customer support and services in the satellite telecommunications industry in Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire;

Bentley Walker, known notably for designing efficient solutions for government and military customers with a Pan-African footprint;

Bloosat, a leader in satellite services in Cameroon and Central Africa;

China Telecom (Africa and Middle East), that is establishing communications link between the African continent and the Asia-Pacific region;

Coollink, a leading player in Nigeria with a broad portfolio of services addressing enterprise and consumer needs;

Global Broadband Solution, a leader in internet and data solutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.;

Ubora Systems, that focuses on IT solutions for government and administrations and business automation in Kenya;

Terrace Projects, a managed satellite service solution provider in South Africa.

Leveraging expertise and knowledge, these partnerships reflect Konnect Africa’s approach to adapt to the specifics of each market to reach out to a vast audience. Wi-Fi hotspot access can be available for a few cents, family offers are being optimized for a few dozens of dollars, while high grade corporate services are also proposed to enable videoconferencing, storage, audio-visual content development and safe and reliable communication. Konnect Africa aims to give its partners the means to succeed with each relevant segment, through dedicated commercial, marketing and technical support. The company will also train and reward local installers to enhance service quality and drive more talent into the industry.  

“This initiative echoes a broad ambition. Connecting Africa means changing the way people live, study, perform business, and transforming daily life. We aim to take broadband further and closer to multiple development sectors such as the healthcare system, education, agriculture or SMEs”, explained Laurent Grimaldi, Chief Executive Officer of Konnect Africa. “We are proud to partner with prominent players and excited to embark on this truly unique venture”, he added. 

Unlike mobile wireless or fiber technologies, satellite broadband does not depend on terrestrial infrastructure and literally comes ‘from above’. It is seen as the best approach to provide populations in remote locations with access to efficient, cost-effective and easy-to-install internet solutions. Konnect Africa’s is an affiliate of Eutelsat, the leading satellite operator with 40 years of experience. Its advanced satellite technology is a powerful tool for social and economic development.

With new-generation services starting in Benin, Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda, Konnect Africa is confirming its bold ambitions for Sub-Saharan Africa. The company’s innovative service offerings and products, included packaged offers inspired by ‘pay as you go’ models and Wi-Fi hotspots schemes, have already convinced a number of local operators, telecom companies and resellers. With products aligned with the preferences and habits of end-users, Konnect Africa is making a strong push with a double objective: to be a partner of choice on the continent and to demonstrate how satellite technology is today the most relevant solution for unlocking access to the Internet in Africa.

Konnect Africa’s first partners include a wide range of operators, each with its specific DNA:

·       AfrikaNet GoSat, already active in the broadband-based internet telephone, VOIP options and provision of customer support and services in the satellite telecommunications industry in Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire;

·       Bentley Walker, known notably for designing efficient solutions for government and military customers with a Pan-African footprint;

·       Bloosat, a leader in satellite services in Cameroon and Central Africa;

·       China Telecom (Africa and Middle East), that is establishing communications link between the African continent and the Asia-Pacific region;

·       Coollink, a leading player in Nigeria with a broad portfolio of services addressing enterprise and consumer needs;

·       Global Broadband Solution, a leader in internet and data solutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.;

·       Ubora Systems, that focuses on IT solutions for government and administrations and business automation in Kenya;

·       Terrace Projects, a managed satellite service solution provider in South Africa.

Leveraging expertise and knowledge, these partnerships reflect Konnect Africa’s approach to adapt to the specifics of each market to reach out to a vast audience. Wi-Fi hotspot access can be available for a few cents, family offers are being optimized for a few dozens of dollars, while high grade corporate services are also proposed to enable videoconferencing, storage, audio-visual content development and safe and reliable communication. Konnect Africa aims to give its partners the means to succeed with each relevant segment, through dedicated commercial, marketing and technical support. The company will also train and reward local installers to enhance service quality and drive more talent into the industry. 

“This initiative echoes a broad ambition. Connecting Africa means changing the way people live, study, perform business, and transforming daily life. We aim to take broadband further and closer to multiple development sectors such as the healthcare system, education, agriculture or SMEs”, explained Laurent Grimaldi, Chief Executive Officer of Konnect Africa. “We are proud to partner with prominent players and excited to embark on this truly unique venture”, he added.

Unlike mobile wireless or fiber technologies, satellite broadband does not depend on terrestrial infrastructure and literally comes ‘from above’. It is seen as the best approach to provide populations in remote locations with access to efficient, cost-effective and easy-to-install internet solutions. Konnect Africa’s is an affiliate of Eutelsat, the leading satellite operator with 40 years of experience. Its advanced satellite technology is a powerful tool for social and economic development.

 
iflix Extends Global Footprint to 23 Territories with iflix Africa
Submarine Cable NewsFeed - Market Snapshot
Tuesday, 06 June 2017 11:50

In another instance of the growing demand for high-bandwidth services in Africa, iflix (www.iflix.com), the world’s leading Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service for emerging markets, announced the establishment of iflix Africa to bring its world class service to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). iflix Africa will be headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa and trade commercially as ‘iflix’. With launches planned in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, iflix Africa will increase iflix’s global footprint to 23 territories worldwide, with additional regional markets to be added over the coming months.

The commercial launch of iflix’s SVoD service across SSA is planned over the second and third quarter of 2017, and will make iflix’s vast range of thousands of TV shows, movies and more, including many first run exclusives and award winning programs available to hundreds of millions of consumers across the region. In addition to having the best of Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and other regional and local programming, the service will additionally offer an extensive collection of highly acclaimed African shows and movies with iflix Africa planning to introduce exclusive African content series.

Having first launched its service in May 2015, iflix quickly established its dominance in the Asian region, rolling out its world class service to 18 markets across Asia and MENA in less than two years, acquiring over 5 million members over the period. iflix Africa will capitalize on SSA’s large youth population, rapidly growing internet and smartphone penetration, and huge appetite for digital content and entertainment.

In March 2017, iflix announced the completion of a US$90+ million round of funding to support its international expansion. The round added new investors Liberty Global Group and Zain Group to the company’s formidable shareholder registry which also includes global heavyweights Sky plc, Catcha Group and Evolution Media.

Mark Britt, iflix Co-founder and CEO, said, “The establishment of iflix Africa represents an incredibly exciting step in iflix’s growth story. As Africa transitions from the margins to the mainstream of the global economy, there is a unique, ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to fundamentally shift the way a billion people consume and enjoy content. By 2020, Africa will have 720 million smartphone users. We aim to meet the entertainment needs of those growingly connected viewers.”

“As the fastest-growing mobile market on earth, Africa is without question one of the world’s most dynamic regions. We are thrilled to introduce our first-of-its-kind SVoD service here. We are passionately focused on providing the broadest selection of premium content at a price everyone can afford. We can’t wait to tackle both the enormous opportunities and challenges ahead, in serving this incredibly diverse and exciting region,” added Andre de Wet, iflix Head of Africa.

Currently available to over one billion consumers in 18 markets across Asia and MENA, iflix will soon roll-out its world class service across sub-Saharan Africa with initial launches in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Each subscription will allow users to access the service on up to five devices, including phones, laptops, tablets, and television sets, for viewing wherever, whenever. 

 
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