Fiber Crosses the Pond

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Verizon Business has gained final FCC approval to activate and operate a trans-Pacific cable system that directly links the United States with mainland China. The cable will stretch 11,000 miles from Nedonna Beach, Oregon, to Qingdao and Chongming in China, and will have landings in Tanshui, Taiwan, and Keoje, South Korea.

The Trans-Pacific Express was announced in December 2006. At the time, Verizon Business said the system would cost $500 million to construct and would initially provide capacity of up to 1.28Tbps, with the eventual goal of having design capacity of up to 5.12Tbps. The initial parties of the consortium includes China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, Korea Telecom, Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom and Verizon Business. Verizon Business customers will be able to access the cable system at wavelengths of up to 10Gbps.

Construction for the system began last September when the first cables for the submarine network were laid off the Korean coast. According to Verizon, the cable system is due to be completed by August of this year, and will eventually total 17,000 kilometers of cable. TPE is expected to be available in advance of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

Barring natural disasters, of course.

Here’s a picture of WCI and Southern Cross oceanic cables dangling over an Oregon river after a washout last month. Both oceanic cables make landfall at Nedonna Beach. The fiber is layed along the Tillamook Bay Railroad which runs down the coast and into Portland. They start at the West Coast cable landing station at Nedonna Beach.

WCI Cable is a wholesale provider of fiber-optic communications service connecting major Alaska markets to the continental United States. It relays traffic from users like the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) which downloads data from polar orbiting platforms like RadarSat.

Data is recorded on an on-board recorder is down-linked to ground stations near the poles. The area of reception for a ground station is called the “mask”.

Here are the masks in Fairbanks, Alaska and Tromso, Norway. Norway’s SvalSat (right) is the northernmost commercial ground station in the world, making it ideal for orbital data dumps.

More than half of the 130 passes per day are provided collectively by the SvalSat Ground Station in Norway and the Alaska Ground Station (AGS) in Fairbanks, Alaska. Both Aqua and Terra satellites are capable of transmitting data to Russian’s ground station network, too.

SvalSat is able to provide all-orbit-support to many polar orbiting satellites above the Arctic while their TrollSat station links Polar orbiters in the Antarctic.

Southern Cross (below), connects to Hawaii, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand; with connections for two other carriers that connect to Japan, South Korea, Mainland China and Taiwan. Perhaps Pine Gap, Australia fends for itself. Perhaps not.

Australian and United States universities showed a 1Gigabit per second data connection between the two countries this week. The University of California San Diego and at the University of Melbourne sent huge data files across the high-capacity Australia’s Research and Education Network (AARNet), Australia’s academic and research network. The connection used SXTransPORT on the Southern Cross Cable Network to the Calit2 network in San Diego via Pacific Wave and CENIC in the U.S.

VSNL, the Indian telecom giant that bought Tyco’s 6 Terabit transpacific cable for a relative song in 2004, plans a new TGN-Intra Asia submarine cable linking Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan with an additional connection to the Philippines, and potentially Vietnam. VSNL has a terrific interactive global cable map (above).

UPDATE: Qwest says a fiber optic line has been cut twice in two days, knocking out long-distance service to about 20,000 customers in northwest Oregon. The two cuts were within about 800 feet of each other, at a point where the line emerges from the ground to be carried on poles. Officers assume at this point that thieves were trying to get copper wire, although the fiber optic lines are made of glass, not metal. One break was located at about 1:30 p.m. in Kelso, Wash., just off I -5.

Scott McMullen, chair of the Oregon Fisherman’s Cable Committee, based in Astoria, said the Trans-Pacific Express cable is one of about 11 along Oregon’s coast. Oregon cable landing station are in Bandon, Nedonna Beach, Pacific City, Rockaway Beach and Warrenton, Oregon.

The Fiber South Consortium (a group of governmental entities in Coos, Lane, and Douglas Counties), acquired their capacity from Williams Communications, whose fiber lines carry traffic between the Willamette Valley and the AT&T trans-Pacific fiber line at Bandon, according to Lincoln County. The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) also has excess dark fiber capacity, some of which is now controlled by the Fiber South Consortium, and some of which was controlled by the Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet), a nonprofit corporation formed to help provide high-speed telecommunications to the rural Northwest. NoaNet later sold their Oregon fiber assets to LS Networks (below).

Five SONET rings and nine projects were approved by the Oregon Economic and Community Development Commission to provide Oregon communities with backup communications in the event of a cable outage.

In other news, Alaska Communications Systems said they will invest $95 million in a fiber optic cable from Alaska to Oregon, according to company president Liane Pelletier. “Our Internet usage is doubling every year,” Pelletier said. “This cable will afford duplicity access to end users.” The system, which lands in the seaside town of Florence, will have an ultimate capacity to transmit 64 10 Gigabit wavelengths on each of the 4 fiber pairs for a total potential bandwidth of nearly 2.6 Terabits.

By the end of 2007, 25 oceanic fiber contracts totaling 112,000 route-kilometers were awarded.

Both of Portland’s cable ships, the Tyco Durable and Global Sentinel, are expected to have plenty of work throughout the Pacific as the telecom industry rebounds. Here are Research Ship Schedules.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, January 14th, 2008 at 10:07 am .

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