SUBSEA CABLE SPECIAL REPORT: Top seven alternate routes

As vast subsea projects prepare to connect multiple continents, Capacity looks at the work going on to bring greater redundancy and diversity to individual markets.


Sea Lion

Backer: Cinia Group

Route: The 1,170km Sea Lion cable will link Helsinki in Finland with Rostock in Germany, providing the first direct link between the Nordic region and continental Europe.

Development: Finnish ICT solutions provider Cinia Group - previously known as Finnish government-owned venture Corenet - first announced the project in December 2014. Designed with a capacity of 15Tbps, Sea Lion is part of the government’s strategy to enhance Finland’s international capacity. 

It will connect to a nationwide fibre-optic network that runs along the national rail infrastructure. “A direct data connection between Finland and Central Europe is an important enabler of both domestic economic growth and international investments,” says Eero Heliövaara, director general at the Prime Minister’s office. 

“Data traffic is expected to grow manifold within the next years and the sea cable initiative opens up an opportunity for Finland to claim its position among the leading countries in the area of Industrial internet.” The cable-laying process began in Helsinki on October 12, 2015, and earlier in April, Hetzner Online became an investor of the route.



Backer: Cyta in partnership with TI Sparkle

Route: KIMONAS will be Cyta’s first wholly-owned fibre-optic cable subsystem connecting Cyprus and Greece. From Cyta’s cable station in Pentaskhinos in Cyprus, it will also connect to the MedNautilus cable station in Chania, Crete; Athens in Greece; Thessaloniki and Bulgaria via the fibre network of Cyta Hellas.

Development: Cyta expects the KIMONAS cable to create a new route for traffic between the Balkans, Central Europe and parts of the Middle East, via Cyprus. At the same time, it aims to link Turkey, Italy and other European destinations through TI Sparkle’s network. 

Cyta Hellas operates a network of over 5,500km, which is said to cover approximately 70% of the Greek population, and stretches from the south of Crete to the north of Greece and beyond to neighbouring Balkan countries.

Cyta Group hopes the new route will help it explore synergies in Greece and Cyprus, as well as target new business opportunities in markets in Europe and the Middle East. The cable is scheduled to begin operation at the end of 2015.  


Sonangol Offshore Optical Cable (SOOC)

Backer: Sonangol company

Route: Sonangol Offshore Optical Cable (SOOC) plans to have four landing connections along the Angolan coast, providing a link between the Luanda and Cabinda provinces. 

Development: SOOC is aiming to reduce the cost-per-bit associated with the delivery of data traffic to Angola, in particular helping to better serve offshore oil and gas production facilities. 

The 1,900km route is expected to bring low latency as well as greater bandwidth to the country’s oil and gas industry. Deployment of the cable has been awarded to Alcatel-Lucent, with construction work scheduled to begin in the second half of 2016. “After connecting Angola to the global network through several undersea cables, ASN is pleased to further contribute to the development of the Angolan fibre-optical infrastructure,” said Yohann Bénard, oil and gas general manager at ASN.

“This award is a prime illustration that submarine fibre-optic technology is becoming the standard telecoms medium for offshore assets. It further demonstrates our leadership in the platform connectivity market, which is one of the priorities of ASN’s industrial plan to diversify into the oil and gas sector.” 


India Cloud Xchange (ICX)

Backer: Global Cloud Xchange (GCX)

Route: ICX is a new direct route between Mumbai in India and Singapore, with a branch landing in Trivandrum and/or Chennai. It will interconnect with GCX's Falcon, Hawk and FA-1 systems, providing connectivity onto the Middle East, Europe and the US.

Development: GCX first announced ICX back in June 2014, shortly after the company rebranded from Reliance Globalcom and launched its cloud strategy.  

The route is designed to bypass existing terrestrial routes between Mumbai and Chennai in India. Spanning approximately 5,060km between Mumbai and Singapore, the route will be based on 100G technology with a four-fibre pair system and initial design capacity per fibre pair at 80x100G. It is said to support the creation of a next-generation IP and cloud environment held together with a single AS number and connecting into Tier III+ data centre facilities on the ground.

In January 2015, GCX announced that it had shortlisted three vendors for construction of the cable. “With Singapore as a regional hub and gateway for multinational companies doing business in India and emerging markets, the ICX cable will complement our GCX global network infrastructure for direct connectivity to major business centres in Asia, the Middle East, North America and Europe,” says Bill Barney, CEO, GCX.


Sistem Kabel Rakyat 1 Malaysia (SKYR1M)

Backers: Telekom Malaysia, TT dotcom

Route: The Sistem Kabel Rakyat 1 Malaysia (SKR1M) subsea cable will connect Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Development: Telekom Malaysia (TM) signed a construction and maintenance agreement with TT dotcom in September 2015. Under the 20-year agreement, the two companies will jointly construct and maintain the SKR1M cable system, including funding all repairs.

The new route forms part of the Malaysian government’s initiative to increase high-speed broadband availability between the Malaysian states. 

“We view this collaboration as a positive move in paving the way to enabling enhanced customer experience when they access high-bandwidth digital content, HD video streaming or run real-time applications via their devices,” said Rozaimy Rahman, EVP, global and wholesale, TM. 

TM has contracted NEC to build the cable, which will utilise 100G technology and offer capacity of 4Tbps that is upgradeable to a minimum of 12.8Tbps. It has an estimated length of 3,500km and is expected to start carrying commercial traffic by mid-2017.


Tasman Global Access (TGA)

Backers: Spark New Zealand, Vodafone, Telstra 

Route: TGA will link Raglan in New Zealand and Narrabeen in Australia, stretching across the Tasman Sea. 

Development: TGA is set to become the third trans-Tasman route, providing competition to the existing Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) and Tasman 2 cable. 

Spark New Zealand, Vodafone and Telstra will invest approximately $70 million in the cable, which it hopes will support the growth of trans-Tasman internet traffic. 

“We are seeing increased data content being provided from Australia-based servers by global companies and being accessed by New Zealand internet users. An additional cable connection with Australia will strengthen the business case for international data servers to be located in New Zealand, and improve access for Australian and other international businesses to New Zealand,” said Spark New Zealand MD Simon Moutter and Vodafone CEO Russell Stanners in a joint statement. 

Alcatel-Lucent is to build the 2,300km cable which is designed with a capacity of at least 20Tbps. The project is scheduled for completion in mid-2016. 


Australia Singapore Cable (ASC)

Backers: Vocus Communications, Nextgen Group

Route: ASC aims to directly connect Perth in Australia to Singapore via Indonesia. 

Development: In November, Nextgen and Australian network provider Vocus confirmed their $120 million joint venture to resurrect the construction of a second subsea cable between Singapore and Perth. The 4,600km cable will aim to provide the first 100Gbps high-speed connection from Western Australia to South-East Asia.

“Our new cable will provide a high-speed, low latency path to Singapore and Jakarta, both key growth markets and IT centres. It will also be very beneficial for the WA economy, particularly the resource sector, providing direct connectivity to the Asia-Pacific region,” said Nextgen CEO David Yulie. “In a broader context, the project is important nationally as it will add value to available telecommunications infrastructure and provide subsea cable diversity for governments and businesses around the country.”

Construction is due to begin in Q1 2016, with completion in 18 months. The deal is subject to due diligence and regulatory approval and will be formalised in the coming months.