Connecting Continents. 5 subsea cables projects making the world smaller

Subsea Cable technology has developed since its inception in the 1850s through several changes to its current form today.

It first morphed from copper to coax and then to fibre, where it has been for several years. Now a new kind of the traditional fibre approach is beginning that replaces the current architecture – a revamped future!

The result is a future architecture, based on ‘Super Cables’ that offer much higher capacity and almost endless flexibility.

In the spirit of the re-emergenced submarine cables, Abigail Opiah lists five subsea cables that made the headlines this year.

Pacific Light Cable Network
Length: 12,800km
Linking: Hong Kong to US

Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), the first submarine cable directly connecting Hong Kong and the US, and is designed with the C+L band optical technology and open cable structure.

The PLCN cable system consists of 6 fibre pairs, with 240 channels of 100Gbps in a single fibre pair. The PLCN cable system is co-building by Google, Facebook and PLDC (Pacific Light Data Communication).

Curie Cable
Length: 10,500km
Linking: Chile to US

The subsea cable system connecting Chile and the US, with a branch landing in Panama, is in the process of being connected to Google’s network and due to start transmitting data in Q2 2020.

Designed with four 18Tbps fibre-optic pairs, Curie delivers 72Tbps of needed bandwidth to South America and will power such Google services as Gmail, Search, YouTube and Google Cloud.

In April of this year, the system landed in Valparaíso, Chile, the first new cable to do so for 19 years. The subsea cable has been engineered, manufactured and installed in partnership with SubCom (then TE SubCom) after announcing their collaboration back in 2018.


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Indigo-West and Indigo-Central Length: 9,200km
Linking: Singapore to Perth via Jakarta, and Perth to Sydney

The INDIGO cable system spans 9200km, consists of two distinct cable projects, Indigo West of 4600km connecting Singapore to Perth via Jakarta, and Indigo Central of 4600km connecting Perth to Sydney.

The INDIGO cable system is designed with two fibre pairs, with a design capacity of around 36 Tbps and option to expand in the future. INDIGO cable system features new spectrum-sharing technology, each consortium member can deploy its own SLTE, upgrade their networks and enable capacity increases on demand independently. The INDIGO cable system has been ready for service since the end of May 2019.

The Grand Bassam
Length: 7,000km
Linking: Senegal to Cote D’Ivoire

The deployment is also notable because it is the first commercial cable in service to deploy submarine spectrum sharing functionality to deepen infrastructure sharing required to lower the cost of delivering broadband services to West Africa. Following the landing at the Grand Bassam beach in Abidjan, the cable will be connected to an existing branching unit on the MainOne cable trunk already strategically located offshore.

Chennai-A&N Islands
Length: 2,300km
Linking: Islands of Havelock, Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Kamorta, the Great Nicobar Islands, Long Island, and Rangat

India based enterprise Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and NEC Technologies India (NECTI) announced that a purchase order was placed by BSNL for NECTI to design, engineer, supply, install, test and implement an optical submarine cable system connecting Chennai and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (A&N Islands). NEC Corporation, the parent company of NECTI, will manufacture the optical submarine cable and provide technical assistance during the turnkey implementation.

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