Alcatel Submarine Networks and Facebook launch aluminium conductor for subsea cables

21 January 2019 | Natalie Bannerman

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Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) and Facebook announce the availability of aluminium conductor cable for fibre-optic subsea cable systems.

After what the company calls an “extensive testing and qualification program” the conductor has proven its suitability for ultra-long haul deep-sea transmissions systems. The demonstration included mechanical, electrical, optical and environmental tests carried out on deep-sea and armoured cables during a sea trial.

Najam Ahmad (pictured), vice president of network engineering at Facebook, said, “Our efforts are focused on expanding connectivity and increasing the adoption of innovative technologies, without compromising reliability. The use of aluminium cable in submarine systems represents an attractive evolution as technology advances and demand increases for more data throughput and higher speeds.”

Using an aluminium conductor meets the needs of operators and content providers that require better support for growing demand and to reduce subsea cable costs. By introducing an alternative to the current copper conductors used in in repeated subsea systems costs are saved as copper is one of the most expensive raw materials.  

This new conductor has already been selected for a major long-distance project and is part of the SDM1 by ASN solution, designed to optimise the cost per bit.

“The introduction of a new cable variant using aluminium conductor addresses the market demand for more cable capacity at a reasonable cost, while keeping the same level of quality and reliability,” said Philippe Piron, president and CEO of Alcatel Submarine Networks. “After the introduction of loose tube technology in submarine cables 25 years ago, ASN is again the first to bring an innovative improvement to submarine cable design, and continues to show its leadership by anticipating customer demands.”

Other benefits to the aluminium conductor include:

  • Cost effectiveness with performance equal to copper.
  • A sustainable supply market – driven by the oil and gas industry.
  • Higher speed of production for the delivery of new systems.
  • An enabler of solutions for low direct current resistance with a higher number of fibre pairs.