Monday, February 5, 2018

Transpacific subsea capacity on the rise

We’ve entered a period in which subsea capacity along the major transoceanic routes is expanding by leaps and bounds, and the Pacific is no exception.

For years, the four fibre pair Pacific Crossing (PC-1) has ruled the roost for bandwidth between the west coast of the United States and Asia. Pacific Crossing's 21,000 km fiber optic ring first entered service in 2001 as a protected system with a capacity of 3.2 Tbps based on its ability to carry 10 Gbps wavelengths. A mid-life upgrade enabled the ability to carry 100G wavelengths, effectively tripling capacity to 10 Tbps.

In 2009, NTT acquired the cable system from Pacific Crossing Ltd, Inc., a former subsidiary of Global Crossing and of the former Asia Global Crossing. During the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, the PC-1 North and PC-1 West segments were severed underwater, but were subsequently restored a few weeks later by the cable repair ship, CS Lodbrog. Service on the southern portion of PC-1 was unaffected by the disaster.

The 17-year-old PC-1 subsea cable network is now showing its age.  The new generation of cables offer much greater capacity and, some, even the ability to carry future 400G wavelengths. We are also seeing

The FASTER transpacific cable

The FASTER transpacific cable entered commercial service in June 2016 – a milestone event described at the time as “the world's highest capacity undersea cable system.”  Google touted the fact that it controls a single fibre pair on the 9,000km trans-Pacific cable connecting Oregon and two landing sites in Japan (Chiba and Mie prefectures).  Over this single fibre pair, Google is able to carry up to 100 wavelengths at 100 Gbps – the equivalent of 10 Tbps of traffic when fully loaded.  The design features extremely low-loss fiber, without a dispersion compensation section, and the latest digital signal processing technology. NEC was the lead contractor.  Significantly, it was the first major transpacific cable system to land in Japan after the Tohoku mega-earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

JUPITER will rule (at least for a while)

In October 2017, plans were unveiled for JUPITER, a new large-capacity, low-latency subsea cable between Japan and the United States with the backing of SoftBank, Facebook, Amazon, PLDT and PCCW Global.

The JUPITER cable system. which will have a total length of 14,000 km, will have two landing points in Japan — the Shima Landing Station in Mie Prefecture and the Maruyama Landing Station in Chiba Prefecture — as well as a U.S. landing station in Los Angeles, California, as well as a landing station at Daet in the Philippines.

 JUPITER will feature a state-of-the-art submersible ROADM employing WSS (wavelength selective switch) for a gridless and flexible bandwidth configuration. The cable system will also be designed to support 400 Gbps wavelengths. The initial design capacity is 60 Tbps.

NTT Com said its Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE), Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) and Pacific Crossing-1 (PC-1) cables will connect with JUPITER to provide a redundant three-route structure linking major cities in Asia, Japan and the United States. NTT Com is also planning direct connections from the cable landing stations in Japan to data centers in Tokyo and Osaka.

JUPITER is expected to come online in early 2020

Telstra expands its transpacific subsea cable investments

Telstra has just announced plans to invest in two transpacific cable projects, expanding its transoceanic network by the equivalent of 6 terabits per second of new capacity. Most of Telstra’s transpacific traffic is currently carried on the AAG cable, which connects South East Asia to the US west coast via Hong Kong, Guam and Hawaii. The 20,000 Km AAG system went in service in late 2009. The system features 96*10G DWDM technology. In addition to Telstra, there are 18 other carriers participating in the consortium.

The first new Telstra undersea investment is a newly announced, 13,000-km Hong Kong Americas (HKA) cable project, which is also backed by China Telecom, China Unicom, Facebook, and Tata Communications. The HKA system will feature six fiber pairs and will connect from Chung Hom Kok in Hong Kong to Hermosa Beach in California. The designers are considering additional branching segments. It’s design capacity is stated at 80 Tbps. Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), which is the lead contractor for the project, will supply its submarine WSS ROADM units and the latest generation of repeaters.  In addition, the HKA cable will be compatible with future generations of submarine line terminal equipped with Probabilistic Shaping technology. Telstra will own a half-fibre pair on the HKA cable system.

The second Telstra project is the 12,800-km Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), which will also connect Hong Kong and the U.S. and offer an estimated cable capacity of 120 Tbps.  The cable is expected to enter service in the summer of 2018. This project is organized by Pacific Light Data Communication Co. Ltd., a new company based in Hong Kong, and has the backing of Google and Facebook. TE SubCom has been appointed lead contractor.

Carrier-neutral Hawaiki will be ready for service in June

The deployment of Hawaiki, a new carrier-neutral submarine cable linking Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Oregon, is progressing quickly as the new fibre is laid across the vast South Pacific.  This 15,000 km undersea system promises up to 43 Tbps of new capacity on the market. The project is owned by Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP, headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand. The key people behind the project were New Zealand-based entrepreneurs Sir Eion Edgar, Malcolm Dick and Remi Galasso.

TE SubCom serves as the lead contractor

More than half of the 15,000 route is now in the water and landing stations in Oregon, Hawaii and Sydney  have been built. Another cable landing station in American Samoa will be ready in March. TE SubCom’s cable-laying vessel CS Responder is now berthed in Auckland, poised to begin marine activities for the New Zealand leg of the transoceanic cable system later this month. The operation will include the landing of the Hawaiki cable in Mangawhai Heads. With FCC licensing now complete, this week the company is predicting that the whole system can be declared commercially ready-for-service in June.

“The start of 2018 finds Hawaiki closer and closer to ready for service”, stated Remi Galasso, CEO of Hawaiki. “Landing the cable in its home country represents a major event for our team and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our New Zealand partners for their continuous support. Hawaiki will bring huge benefits to New Zealand in terms of greater connectivity to Australia and the US, security of supply, diversity and increased business opportunities for the Telecom and IT industries.”

See also