By Simon Womack, Chief Commercial Officer, Aqua Comms Limited

Submarine Networks World 2015, which was well attended by most carriers, some of the larger Over-the-Top (OTT) content providers, and quite a few data center operators and submarine network operators, took place at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Center on September 8-10. Greg Varisco, Chief Operations Officer of Aqua Comms Limited (AquaComms) gave a presentation at the conference’s Global Cable Project Showcase. The presentation examined how modern transatlantic submarine cable networks, including America Europe Connect (AEConnect), will utilize innovative optical technologies to serve the bandwidth requirements of global data centers, carriers, cloud-based networks, financial services firms, and content providers seeking low latency and high reliability.

The event featured a packed agenda, with a strong focus on the Software-Defined Network (SDN) capabilities of the new breed of subsea systems, allowing for the seamless integration of the subsea portion of their network into their terrestrial platforms.  Because SDN platforms empower point and click bandwidth implementation, networks are maximizing their software capabilities to extract the full value from the physical hardware — a major advance on legacy systems.

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During the presentation, it was illustrated that carriers will have the ability to put the Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE) into Points of Presence (PoPs) rather than in the landing stations, thus facilitating multiple breakouts and routes for each subsea crossing.  This would materially change their procurement methodology, making it much more efficient and increasing the value of their subsea investments.  Moreover, as time goes on, and transatlantic subsea cable operators connect future deep water branching units, these systems will evolve to add additional landings and improve the diversity within the network.  Furthermore, as was pointed out, large subsea fiber optic cable systems, until now, have not deployed deepwater branching units, which are proven to be reliable in Oil & Gas networks.  What this means is that global customers will gain the optionality to serve a greater number of geographic regions, providing more than one continental shelf crossing, from the same deep water trunk.

The roundtable that Greg moderated later in the afternoon sparked active discussions from all parties about the exciting phase of subsea networks we are now entering.  With the transatlantic being the specific highlight of the industry this year, especially considering two new deployments on the busiest route, the stimulus for the change in network provisioning for carriers was of marked interest, alongside the capabilities of the new subsea fiber optic cable systems.