Welcome back to another Pacific Telecoms Conference and coverage by STF Today!  Before the bulk of the conference even gets started, members of the Submarine Telecoms Industry are coming together for a workshop on all things subsea cable related.

Experts from more than 10 different companies will be speaking on topics such as able protection and regulatory development, the latest developments in system design and upgrade, and focus on issues critical to the ongoing success of the Global Submarine Cable industry.

For a full list of speakers and workshops, visit their website

Subtel Forum is also streaming the event live.  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/subtel-forum


The first speaker is Hugh McGarry of Garnet Consulting Pty, Ltd.  He is giving a roundup of regional systems in Asia and the Pacific.

“I have another indicator of what kind of systems they are, and that's D+,” meaning development plus.  Planned systems that are being substantially supported by development funds, grants and similar.

Of the system, McGarry estimates that more than 40 percent of planned systems have slipped their completion date, some by more than a year.


McGarry explains some of the fundamental differences with cables in the region.  These include population size, smaller capacity needs and more.

He has noted serious growth of cables in the region.  Drivers of that growth include increased mobile 3G data coverage.  Falling cost of smart devices, lower cost of intentional wholesale broadband, lower IP Transit costs and a growing capacity for information.

In his final thoughts, McGarry said Restoration needs are changing.  There needs to be increased meshing of technologies like cable and satellite for restoration and more domestic cables are needed in Asia and the Pacific for isolated islands.


The next to speak is Michael Rieger of TE SubCom on the India, Middle East and African regions.  According to Rieger, there are an addition 16 systems in 2014; a total of 53,000 km.

Rieger explains some of the usage drivers in the region.  There has been a 48.3 percent internet penetration in the Middle East and a 20 percent internet subscriber yearly growth in the Middle East and Africa.

Give the changes, Rieger expects that by 2019, video will account for 50 percent of mobile data traffic.

On the technology side, SubCom is seeing the adoption of coherent Xponders in the region.

“We also see people consuming in terms of Terabytes.”

Middle East and India remain the EU-AP gateway.


“The Atlantic has, at last, become an exciting place to do business.”  These are the opening comments of Keith Schofield of Pioneer Consulting.

According to Schofield, there have been a number of new market developments in the region.  New systems initiated by Google, developments in Nigeria and Camaroon and many others.

“I wonder, soon, if we'll have one or two Arctic systems.”

So what's influencing the market place?  In the Americas region, it's a number of drivers, including the upcoming Rio Olympics.  “If anything, competition is intensifying.”

Schofield said that there is a very exciting mixture of new builds and upgrades in the region.  “I wonder if we will look back at this time and say ‘is pricing firming up in the region.'”

In the Atlantic region, latency has always been important.  Schofield adds that resilience of the network has become equally important, which may be driving new builds with an eye towards redundancy.

“It's probably fair to say the impact of politics are influencing more what cables are being built, what routes are being used.”  There is a growing issue of politics influencing if traffic will bypass the U.S.

Cyber Security is “an area we would do well to focus in on,” Schofield said.

Schofield then turns the conversation towards the International Cable Protection Committee, of which he is a member.

The committee is working with the International Seabed Authority on the “Due Regard” provisions, planning for the upcoming effect of seabed mining on cables, which is expected in the next three to five years.

The committee also has active work with cable awareness, plenary, best practices recommendations for the industry, environmental issues, create a voice to the media and more.


The next speaker is Dean Veverka of Southern Cross Cable Network, who will be speaking on submarine cable operation and maintenance.

He spoke on the same topic last year and focused on issues like vessel monitoring, air and sea patrols and national legislation.

This year, Veverka opens with best industry practices for protection of submarine cables as outlined by the ICPC.

This includes dissemination o cable route information, stakeholder liaison and education, monitoring for securing of route and legal issues.

“We feel the industry itself is best at self-regulation.”

Veverka also spoke on new changes in services provided by Souther Cross, including 1 terabyte added to lit network capacity, flexible grid technology and greater capacity increases.

This means great complexity on the operations level, Veverka said.

“For me, I think it boils down to software.  Everything is software defined.”

Many of the new technologies are software driven.

“This is where the hidden complexity comes in.”

Operators must manage software upgrades in the maintenance windows, invest in increased training, create new documentation of processes and procedures and more.  There will also be complexity increases for OSS integration.

Alongside this will be the decommissioning of older equipment, a separate project.

All of these changes will include risk.  Veverka suggests a number of things for risk management.  These include changes to legislation, more involvement by managers in ground level issues and more.

Veverka also suggest a zone maintenance agreement, creating dedicated ships for maintenance of all cables in a specific area.


Kent Bressie of Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis LLP, will be giving an update on cable regulators.

“I would like to touch briefly on a few regulatory changes over the last year.”  Bressie adds that a number of these changes relate to the U.S. because many happened there and other countries are watching what new security changes the U.S.  is planning.

CSRIS, an advisory for the FCC established in 2013, has delivered its first report on spatial separation.  Two further reports will address intergovernmental coordination and route landing selection.

Bressie explains that many government agencies are severely undereducated in submarine cables which has led to a number of challenges when conflict come up, like during beach replenishment in New Jersey which suggested simply moving the cables when they proved to be in the way of the current plans.  The CSRIS is meant to bridge the education gap.

The report examines the economic and national-security importance of undersea cables, natural and man-,are risks to undersea cable infrastructure, spatial requirements of undersea cables and more.

“There needs to be coordination at an early stage.”  The industry and regulators need to talk with each other.

Moving on, Bressie says that there has been a further decrease in FCC annual regulatory fees of 15 percent.  There was agreement that fees should continue to drop.


The final speaker is Nichole Starosielski of New York University, author of the upcoming book “The Undersea Network,” which examines the history of undersea cables.

She speaks on her new computer game/program “Surfacing.”  The game is an interactive visualization of the undersea network.  Players play as a signal that must traverse the network to reach its destination.

The purpose of the game is to help raise awareness of the importance of cables, which, in the time of satellites, is largely misunderstood.

The game uses text, maps and more to educate players about the networks.  This also includes real stories of the development of subsea cables.

“I'm now in the process of soliciting test users.”


The panelists will take a short break and then return at 11 a.m. for a roundtable discussion.