Responding to ever increasing levels of OTT data traversing the Pacific, the New Cross Pacific Cable consortium (NCPCC) is developing a new subsea cable that will span more than 13,000 km from Hillsboro, Oregon (U.S.A.) to Chongming (China mainland), Nanhui (China mainland), Lingang (China mainland), Busan (South Korea), Toucheng (Taiwan), and Maruyama (Japan). This cable is being developed with a consortium of partners including China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, KT Corporation, Softbank Telecom and Microsoft.
For Microsoft – which has a 16.67% share of the project – NCP will give customers high availability access to their data and the most reliable, accessible and secure cloud services on the market. Although no immediate plans are afoot, the NCPCC also anticipate a possible future need to expand further with landing points reaching into the Southeast Asian region. NCPC will also be designed to interconnect with other cable systems in the region to maximize the throughput of data, as well as to support future upgrades, with the expectation for the service to launch in late 2017.
For the design, NCPCC are using a state of the art system optimized for coherent transmission with all positive dispersion, large effective area transmission fiber and high power, wide band repeaters. The cable uses a large core D+ fibre, the latest branching unit technology, and the latest repeater supervisory management. NCPCC also plan to use the latest coherent transmission technology to achieve the highest bit rate possible across the Pacific.
The result will be a cable which offers extremely low latency between Asia and the West Coast of the United States. Future proof upgradability will be ensured by the high performance wet plant. Indeed, NCPCC plan to upgrade the cable with the latest available technology to achieve 50%design capacity improvements within three years after RFS.
The original design capacity contracted in 2014 was 82Tbps on the Tran-Pacific Segment, but with a rapid advance in technology NCPCC are confident that capacity can be enhanced substantially.
To manage against threats of external damage, NCPCC have been very proactive in reviewing the cable design and cable routing to mitigate challenges. Throughout the engineering, installation and post installation phases, there has been close coordination with, and input from, other seabed users to assist in routing the cable to minimize potential risk from external aggression.
During installation NCPCC have undertaken precautions with the use of appropriate burial tools such as the EB3 plough to ensure that the cable can be positioned safely and securely. In the post- installation phase there has also been ongoing liaison with fisheries and authorities to minimize the risk of external aggression over the life of the cable system.
Asked why the particular landing locations had been chosen, NCPCC informed us these sights offered a balance of being located close by to large urban centres as well as being relatively straight forward to attain the permits for. That is not to say permitting has not been a challenge for NCPCC, however. Securing governmental, regulatory permits, and approval permits has presented an enduring difficulty to getting this subsea cable project in motion. As the consortium has learnt, cable routing in an increasingly congested corridor requires multiple rounds of consultation and approvals from involved authorities, as well as other interested parties, such as fishermen unions. The keys to effectively managing this challenge includes early mitigation planning and frequent local communication.
This article is part of a series of 15 interviews with leading cable project owners around the world, which we’ve compiled into the ebook “Submarine Networks Projects 2017”. Download a free copy of it here.
If you’d like to meet these cable owners and operators together with other leaders from the industry, you should join us at Submarine Networks World 2018, which takes place 24 – 26 September in Singapore. Firmly established as the must-attend annual meeting for industry players from all around the world, preparations are already underway for another year of inspiring ideas, extensive networking and lively debates, with a conference programme covering key industry issues ranging from New Demand Drivers to Marine Operations, as well as a brand new Innovation Zone featuring presentations on the latest R&D projects.
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