A major development in the submarine fiber optic market occurred recently with the coming into force of a supply contract for a new transatlantic cable.  The story of this project follows.

Back in 2011, Emerald Networks was formed to build a transatlantic cable connecting the United States, Iceland and Ireland.  The company contracted with TE SubCom to supply the project and made a number of announcements that seemed to indicate that it was making progress in building what would have been the first new transatlantic cable since the early years of this century, including a capacity purchase agreement with CenturyLink, the third largest telecom carrier in the US.

Ultimately, however, Emerald was not able to raise the necessary funding for the project, but the project re-emerged last week with a new name.

In a recent FCC filing, the landing license for Emerald Express was transferred to a new entity, America Europe Connect Licenses Limited (AECL), and the name of the cable system was officially changed to AEConnect. The supply contract previously award to SubCom also came into force for the newly-renamed system.  The cable now will link the US and Ireland.

AECL is controlled by Aqua Ventures International, a UAE-based investment holdings firm with a portfolio of investments in telecommunications, media and technology.  Last year, Aqua Ventures made a significant investment in Sea Fibre Networks, which owns and operates CeltixConnect, a subsea cable linking Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Aqua Ventures also was the leading investor in Emerald Networks.

AEConnect now joins the Hibernia Express cable as transatlantic cables under development.  Hibernia’s cable, also supplied by SubCom, has begun the installation process and will enter service later this year.  AEConnect is scheduled to enter service by the end of the year..