An interview with Aqua Comms’ Nigel Bayliff and Chris Bayly

Editor’s Note: The huge increase in demand for high-bandwidth services across the North Atlantic is one of the most notable developments in the current boom period of submarine cable building.  And beyond a doubt, one of the most significant players in this geographic market is Aqua Comms, which will soon be completing its second transatlantic cable system in four years.  During ITW in June, SubCableWorld had the pleasure to sit down with Nigel Bayliff, CEO of Aqua Comms, and Chris Bayly, Aqua Comms’ Chief Commercial Officer, to get an update on the company’s efforts and the status of their cable projects. 

Nigel and Chris: “Here’s a summary of where we are right now.  Our first transatlantic cable, AEC-1, is in service and has some good customers on it already.  It runs from New York to Ireland and then continues on to London.  AEC-1 went live in November 2015, with the optical layer available in May 2016. 

Then there’s AEC-2.  This is our part of the Havfrue transatlantic cable system.  It runs from the NJFX facility in New Jersey to Ireland and Denmark.  AEC-2 will be live in November 2019, with the optical layer by the end of the year. 

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Just a few days ago we announced an agreement with Interxion Holding NV to interconnect AEC-2 at Interxion’s data center in Copenhagen.  This is an efficient location for AEC-2 to interconnect with our target customers.

AEC-2 will complement AEC-1 and deliver on its vision of creating a “North Atlantic Loop,” a resilient dual-path network across the Atlantic. This will be further enhanced by North Sea Connect (NSC), from Denmark to the UK, and Celtix-Connect-2 (CC-2), as a second Irish Sea cable crossing from the UK to Ireland, both of which will follow AEC-2.  That will get us completely solid in the Atlantic.  Then we’ll start to look beyond the Atlantic to different markets. 

We sell high-bandwidth, transport-layer subsea services in the wholesale market only.  We sell only to carriers.  We don’t sell to enterprise customers.  We don’t sell fancy services.  We don’t sell IP.  We are just infrastructure. 

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We will partner with anybody because we’re completely carrier neutral.  We have no affinity or dis-affinity for anybody.  This has led to a number of opportunities that we are currently looking at.  There is a lot going on in general in the industry and especially in Northern Europe.  Sometimes opportunities come from unexpected sources. 

Our brand is FOCUS, which stands for Fiber Optic Cables Under the Sea, but it’s also our watchword.  We entirely focus on undersea.  We have a small number of permanent employees, with lots of outsourcing.  But outsourcing managed by people who know how to outsource.  Our entire organization, our entire capital structure, and our entire plan is focused on deploying undersea cables by experts in the field.” 

Aqua Comms