Innovations For Submarine Cable Project Continuity During Covid-19 And Beyond

By René d’Avezac de Moran
November 25, 2020

Stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, with cinemas and restaurants closed, we have all been spending a lot more of our time online than initially planned at the start of 2020! This has led to a surge in internet bandwidth usage, as reported by several websites and mobile app providers, and this demand is driving telecoms operators and consortiums to fast-track several new cross-continental submarine cable systems.

Developing new submarine cable systems from concept to operation is a huge undertaking and Covid-19 restrictions are slowing the progress of several global projects. Conducting site inspections for cable landings and vessel inspections for route surveys have all been impacted by Covid-19 travel restrictions; tasks such as obtaining operational permits, organising meetings with relevant authorities and mobilising resources for cable route surveys and cable lays also take longer and are more complicated than before the pandemic. These delays are a challenge for the telecoms and internet operators who want these systems expedited and must contend with lower business profitability while waiting for projects to complete.

To overcome these obstacles, Fugro has deployed several innovative approaches, all of which are based on remote technology such as remote site visits, remote vessel inspections and uncrewed vessels etc. As an early adopter, Fugro has already successfully implemented many of these remote strategies over the last 20 years; the last few months, however, have progressed them to the point where formerly apprehensive clients have not only acknowledged their acceptance and satisfaction but also embraced the solutions and promoted them within their own organisations.

A new work paradigm

As a result of the Covid-19 travel restrictions, we are experiencing an interesting paradigm shift. Adopting new work set-ups has facilitated business continuity as remote operations enable us to perform offshore tasks while working from home (or the office, where local restrictions allow) and offer greater flexibility for a work-life balance.

Covid-19 therefore presents an opportunity for businesses to transform in ways that reduce our office footprint, change old habits and are more efficient. Meanwhile, the safety and well-being of our employees remain our priority in everything we do, including client projects and the communities in which we operate. Our decades-long commitment to remote operations is proving a wise strategy as pandemic restrictions continue. Elements of this new work paradigm include operating with reduced numbers of offshore personnel; securing access to survey data acquired from vessels from almost anywhere in the world; and acquiring Geo-data via wholly autonomous vessels.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 115 of the SubTel Forum Magazine on page42 or on our archive site here.