Friday Network News: February 24

Capacity brings you the latest network news. If you have network developments you’d like us to share, please email or tweet us @capacitymag.

The GBI submarine cable system, linking Qatar, the UAE, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia, with onward connectivity to India and Europe, has gone live. The project was constructed in a partnership between Gulf Bridge International and TE SubCom. GBI has an initial capacity of 5.18Tbps and is configured in a self healing ring to maximise service quality. Additional connectivity is expected to be added to the cable in the coming months.

US provider Clearwire reportedly intends to have 5,000 TD LTE sites up and running by June 2013 as part of a first LTE roll-out phase, according to local sources. Clearwire and its majority owner Sprint Nextel have been cooperating to identify TD LTE network sites, which will be used to overlay Clearwire’s existing WiMAX infrastructure in urban areas, where demand is highest. The roll-out is expected to begin before the end of March.

Singtel’s Australian subsidiary, Optus, has announced plans to acquire WiMAX operator Vividwireless in a deal worth AUD $230 million. The agreement includes the transfer of Vivid’s operating businesses, customer bases, spectrum licences and 4G network. If successful, the acquisition will give Optus 98MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band, which will be used to build and operate a TD LTE network in the metropolitan areas of Australia. The TD LTE network will offer speeds ranging between 25Mbps and 87Mbps, which Optus claims is twice as fast as existing competitive 4G services.

Philippine operator, Smart Communications, a subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), has switched on its LTE network in Baguio City. The launch marks the introduction of LTE in the Northern Luzon province of the country and is designed to coincide with the annual Panagbenga festival. Smart’s LTE network is also active on the islands of Boracay and Cebu and most parts of Metro Manila. The upgrade is part of PLDT and Smart’s $1.58 billion network transformation initiative which is set to be completed by mid 2012.

Sea Fibre Networks has announced that the CeltixConnect cable linking Dublin, Ireland, to London and Manchester, UK, has gone live. CeltixConnect is 131km long and consists of 72 fibre pairs, doubling existing capacity between Ireland and the UK, according to Sea Fibre Networks. The cable is claimed to be the lowest latency link between the two countries and has been deployed to meet demand from the digital and financial services industries in Ireland. The country’s International Financial Services Centre is set to be one of the main beneficiaries of the low latency route.

Hungarian operator Magyar Telekom has deployed 4G LTE services in Budapest. At launch Magyar’s LTE network covers 40% of Budapest’s population and is set to cover the remainder of the capital by the end of 2012. Magyar preceded the launch with a test period to evaluate the service, which involved hundreds of its residential and business customers.

The $6 million Guyana-Brazil cable is almost ready for testing, according to local reports. The 560km cable runs overland from the Guyanan capital Georgetown, on the Atlantic coast, to the town of Lethem, which borders with Brazil, with a submarine cable crossing the river at Kurupukari. The cable has been built in 10km sections linked by joint boxes. Five repeater stations are still being built, but the work is expected to be completed by the end of March. The project has been disrupted by heavy rains and flooding, as well as one deliberate cut while the laying has been in progress, according to the local Kaieteur News.

Ericsson is planning to acquire Canadian carrier grade Wifi company BelAir Networks. The 100% share transaction will give Ericsson a carrier grade Wifi portfolio and involve the transfer of all 120 BelAir Networks employees .The acquisition plans come in anticipation of increasing demand from carriers for Wifi solutions, with Wifi connectivity now becoming a standard feature on a number of consumer devices. BelAir customers include AT&T and Comcast.

A group of European telcos and vendors has announced a telepresence initiative for standardised videoconference services. The alliance consists of European operators Deutsche Telekom AG, France Telecom Orange, Telecom Italia and Telefónica as well as vendors Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Italtel, Nokia Siemens Networks, Polycom and Quanta Computer. The group says that is had selected a common set of capabilities based on existing 3GPP and GSMA standards.

UK operator Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile UK and France Telecom’s Orange, has announced a nationwide roll-out of HSPA+ in the country. Everything Everywhere claims that it will provide 50% faster data speeds to mobile broadband customers with its HSPA+21 upgrade and has already upgraded 60% of its network. The HSPA+21 upgrade will be completed by Q3 2012, and trials of HSPA+42 are due to begin in Q2 2012 with a goal to roll out the technology to customers in Q4 2012. Everything Everywhere also announced a 4G LTE trial over 1800MHZ due to take place in Bristol from April.

T-Mobile USA is planning to invest in a $4 billion network modernisation to improve voice and data coverage and to make way for LTE in 2013. The modernisation includes an additional 37,000 cell sites and the refarming of existing spectrum to launch LTE, made possible by the spectrum received as a result of the termination of the AT&T transaction. T-Mobile expects to deploy LTE services in the majority of the top 50 markets and 20MHz service in 75% of the top 25 markets.

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