Exclusive: GCX receives quotes to build 20Tbps Eagle Marseille-Singapore cable

Bill Barney RCom GCX.jpg

Global Cloud Xchange has received quotes from three vendors for its Eagle cable but won’t let the contract until its future is settled.

The company’s CEO, Bill Barney (pictured), told Capacity yesterday that he expects Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) to find a buyer “within 90 days”, though there might be “an extension of a month or two”.

Barney said the three quotes for Eagle, which is due to extend from Marseille in the Mediterranean to Singapore via Mumbai, have come from “American, French and Japanese companies” – taken to mean SubCom, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) and NEC, but Barney would not confirm names.

Eagle will initially have capacity of 20Tbps, said Barney, but no final decision will be made until the supplier is selected. “It’s likely we’ll be able to upgrade,” said Barney. “We’ll put in the repeaters.”

He is expecting to have contracts in place in time for next year’s Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) conference in Hawaii, which is set for 19-22 January, with “next summer laying the cable”, and operations about 18 months later – which could take the ready-for-service date into 2022.

The current plan is to lay the stretch from Mumbai to Singapore first, followed by Mumbai to Marseille – which GCX has chosen as the western termination in preference to Palermo, said Barney. “We’ve left the Italians behind.” When Eagle was first announced in 2017 the plan was to build a 100Gbps cable from Sicily. 

The whole cable will have provision for up to 25 branching units, he added.

However, Barney’s first priority is to find a buyer for GCX. In March the company called in Lazard, the investment bank as a financial adviser “to make sure we look at all the available options”, he told Capacity at the time.

Last week 87% of its bondholders said they were prepared to wait for the $350 million that was due to be paid the following day. It seems clear that the bondholders will benefit from the proceeds of a sale – rather than Reliance Communications (RCom), the former mobile operator that is now going through India’s bankruptcy courts.


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