Alcatel Submarine Networks to build cable system for INFN’s Mediterranean telescope

29 November 2018 | Jason McGee-Abe

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Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) and Italy’s Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucelare (INFN) have signed a new contract for the roll out of a submarine cable infrastructure for INFN’s submarine network, hosting an underwater multi-disciplinary laboratory incorporating a high-energy neutrino telescope, the largest one in the Mediterranean.

This undersea infrastructure is being financed by the Regione Siciliana PO-FESR 2014 - 2020, under the framework of the IDMAR project, which aims at implementing a multi-disciplinary lab for scientific in the marine environment. 

"This project will further offer to INFN and to the Italian research community advanced applications to implement new research models, under the framework of the Sicilian Region PO-Fser Funds, IDMAR project,” said Giacomo Cuttone, INFN – LNS director.

“ASN’s state-of-the art technology will help us in taking a significant step to enhance astroparticle physics and other sciences such as seismology and the predictability of geophysical events, in collaboration with the Italian Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV).”

Located in Southeastern Sicily, the new submarine system will provide high power and fibre connectivity to the submarine telescope. It will help to transmit real-time data, to shore collected by detectors deployed on the seabed. The data will be used by researchers, universities and science laboratories to provide a better understanding of the physical processes in the oceans.

ASN will provide a substantial portion of the new subsea infrastructure with an electro-optical cable and several undersea DC/DC power converters of the latest generation to provide communications and powerto several detection systems. The technology provided by ASN is based on the DCFO solution initially developed for oil & gas applications and the system will rely on xx sensors serving as lenses for data collection.

Philippe Piron, president of Alcatel Submarine Networks, added: "We are proud to further cooperate with INFN in such an ambitious project, which reconfirms submarine systems’ ability and versatility for the new applications offered in the field of undersea scientific observation. This new contract also confirms our expertise in addressing new market segments."

ASN and INFN had previously cooperated in the deployment of the first branches of the submarine system network deployed off East Sicily, used to install submarine observatories capable to monitor acoustic, geophysics signals, bioluminescence and cosmic rays.

Last month, French network equipment maker Ekinops said it was speaking with Nokia about the potential acquisition of its Alcatel Submarine Networks unit. The company, which opened a new US headquarters this week, confirmed in October that it has “initiated preliminary discussions” about buying ASN. It added: “There is no certainty at this stage that these discussions can lead to any agreement or any operation.”

Nokia has been trying to find a buyer for ASN since its €15.6 billion acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent two years ago. Reports in France this week state that a deal could be announced as soon as next week.

According to La Tribune, a consortium composed of Ekinops alongside BPIFrance and the Aleph Capital fund is poised to acquire Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN).