Regional Systems Issue 119 Analytics
By Kieran Clark
July 23, 2021
Welcome to SubTel Forum’s annual Regional Systems issue. This month, we will take a brief look at system progress around the world and talk a little bit about some of the challenges the submarine telecoms industry faces in the various regional markets. The data used in this article is obtained from the public domain and is tracked by the ever-evolving SubTel Forum Analytics database, where products like the Almanac, Cable Map, Online Cable Map and Industry Report find their roots.
By The Numbers
Over the past five years, AustralAsia has seen the bulk of new system activity with more than one-third of all new cable systems implemented in this region since 2016. The Americas have also observed significant new system activity with nearly one-quarter of all new systems being implemented in this region during the same time period while the EMEA region received nearly one-fifth of all new system activity. (Figure 1) This increase was almost certainly due to the rising importance of cloud services around the globe and especially due to the activity of Hyperscalers.
The period 2014-2016 saw an average of under 30 thousand kilometers added annually, with 2015 adding only 15.8 thousand kilometers. 2017 added nearly 100 thousand kilometers of cable and while this was a standout year, 2018 observed a slight decrease to just under 75 thousand kilometers and 2019 fell all the way to just under 35 thousand kilometers added. (Figure 2) This could simply be the result of the historically boom and bust nature of the submarine fiber market as multiple, very large projects were implemented in 2017 and 2018.
Comparing to the previous figure, while there may be a high number of new, if smaller, systems each year, regional systems then total the kilometers of cables added for the year will stay low, as was the case in 2019.
However, despite the difficulties imposed around the world by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 observed an increase of just over 50 thousand kilometers of cable to the global network. This addition in cable kilometers was due to the implementation of several long-haul transoceanic systems, spanning thousands of kilometers each – specifically in the Transpacific, Transatlantic and AustraAsia regions. While this is a modest increase, it is a noticeable improvement over the previous year.