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Ocean Networks Hits on Virgin Subsea Route

Dan O'Shea

With subsea fiber cable routes crossing the globe every which way, it's hard to believe there are any routes left unexploited between the continents. However, Atlanta-based Ocean Networks has found one such "virgin route," in the words of founder and CEO Scott Schwertfager.

Ocean Networks Thursday morning named Xtera Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: XCOM) to be the turnkey supplier for the 9,400 km South America Pacific Link (SAPL) submarine cable system, which will run between Manta, Ecuador, and Oahu, Hawaii, an interconnection hub for other Pacific Ocean subsea routes to Asia. (See this map for the route.)

The submarine cable operator also said earlier this week that it had raised an unspecified amount of mezzanine funding for the project from an undisclosed source.

Many other South-America-to-Asia routes run along the West Coast of South and North America until they connect with a trans-Pacific cable, usually somewhere on the West Coast of the US. But Schwertfager, a sector veteran who once worked for AT&T Submarine Cable Systems, said the SAPL will be a more direct route with better latency.

"It's a virgin route, hasn't been done for whatever reason," he said. "We're not sure why no one has cut this corner before."

The SAPL also will connect with the Pacific-Caribbean Cable System in South America to traverse the Central America region to deliver traffic to the East Coast of the US. The SAPL will have 30 Tbit/s system capacity with 100G transmission over three pair of coherent design fiber.

Ocean Networks is targeting a ready date of mid-2016. South American landing points for subsea cables are becoming increasingly common as traffic increases to and from the continent, particularly in advance of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero. (See Seaborn Nears Funding for Seabras-1, Americas to Get New Subsea Cable, Angola Cables Hooks Up to Europe and Telefonica Int. Deploys Infinera's DTN-X.)

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
2/10/2014 | 1:26:30 PM
Who's going to use the cable?
Even if assuming the cable gets funded, so what?  Of course, if the money is there, why wouldn't Xtera want to build it?


Is Xtera going to fund it?  I doubt it.  So who is the mystery financier?  Who are the customers?


Anybody can build a cable.  But unless there are customers willing to buy, it is all just a press release.
User Rank: Blogger
1/20/2014 | 10:56:48 PM
Re: Risky route?
Ocean vendor Xtera's take on the susceptibility of this route to earthquakes is that it isn't any more risky than any other subsea route (the any cable around Japan, for example, that were damaged after the massive quake in 2011). That is to say their is always some risk that operators and their suppliers have to accept in laying these cables. Generally speaking, Xtera also said they collect a lot of data from geological surveys during the planning stages for new cable.
User Rank: Blogger
1/16/2014 | 7:21:03 AM
Risky route?
Maybe no one has done this route before because of the high risk of running a cable on a long route with no dry land landing points and along a sea bed that hasn't been used before for comms cables?

Just a thought. I hope they have done some detailed exploration and mapping - that region to the west of LatAm is likely to be a bit unstable in terms of tectonic movements, no? 
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