Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Confluence-1 cable to link U.S. East coast with 500 Tbps capacity

Confluence Networks, a Florida-based developer of undersea fibre-optic communications systems, announced an equity investment from Mastec that will enable it to complete development and construction of Confluence-1, the first undersea cable system dedicated to linking strategic global communications nodes on the East Coast of the United States.  

Confluence-1 will have landings in New York, NY; Miami, FL; Virginia Beach, VA; and Jacksonville, FL; as well as a strategic node in Myrtle Beach, SC.

MasTec is an infrastructure construction company operating mainly throughout North America across a range of industries. 

The companies said Confluence-1 will provide direct, reliable, low-latency undersea connections among the major cable landings on the East Coast of the US, thus facilitating the interconnection of many intercontinental cable routes within the Americas, and between the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The network specifically addresses the lack of availability of continuous dark fiber and truly diverse routing on the North-South route between New York and Miami.

Confluence-1 will have 24 fiber pairs providing over 500 Tbps of capacity on the new route. 

Jose Mas, MasTec’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are delighted to play a significant role in this important new development as now is the perfect time to focus on true redundancy. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Confluence Networks, and to the future developments that will ensue as we deepen our involvement in the global communications community.”

Paul Scott, CEO of Confluence Networks, added, “We are fortunate to have MasTec as a partner in this enterprise, and excited to be working with them in realization of Confluence-1. We see Confluence-1 as an opportunity to make a game-changing addition to both the US domestic network and the intercontinental network on the East Coast, and look toward many more such opportunities as the global network evolves.” Confluence-1 is expected to be in service 2H-2023.

Windstream and Colt test 400G open line system interoperability

Windstream Wholesale and Colt Technology Services recently conducted a 400G managed spectrum trial over an open line system.

During the trial, leveraged the Windstream Flex grid open line system between Chicago and Ashburn, Va., to build a 600G wavelength using their own coherent transmission system. Colt leveraged the Windstream-provided managed spectrum to deliver multiple 100GE and 400GE services, traversing nearly 1800 Kms between the business hubs.

Windtream said its Intelligent Converged Optical Network (ICON) demonstrated the advantages of its disaggregated network architecture, multi-vendor open line system scalability, and alien wave support. As part of the ICON functionality, Windstream also presented key performance metrics of the transmission network, a concept known as Layer Zero Analytics, through Windstream Wholesale’s customer portal. By providing these kinds of self-diagnostic metrics, customers are able to independently plan coherent wavelength deployments, self-diagnose service performance and assess the health of the network 24 x 7, as if they were the owner/operator of the open optical line system.

“This trial between Colt and Windstream saw Colt being able to deliver 400G and multiple 100G services over a 600G wavelength using our next-gen transmission system and Windstream’s spectrum offering in a fully integrated way,” said Vivek Gaur, Vice President - Network Engineering for Colt. “Colt has been investing in its high bandwidth, agile, on-demand network – the Colt IQ Network – for many years. We have extensive experience in successfully delivering spectrum solutions for our customers in Europe - however, this successful trial using Windstream spectrum opens the possibility of building out a 100G capable US backbone network. We are also excited for what this trial means for our future collaboration with Windstream, as Colt actively pursues innovation and investment in technology trials to drive potential partnerships – so, we look forward to working together more.”

“This first foray into managed spectrum by Windstream Wholesale demonstrates the flexibility of our ICON network and the technology’s exciting potential for domestic terrestrial networks,” said Buddy Bayer, chief network officer for Windstream. “It’s another step in Windstream’s ongoing and carefully planned network architectural strategy that leverages the benefits of fundamental design principles of disaggregation, openness, flexibility and network intelligence. As always, the ultimate goal is to meet our customers’ expanding need for high-capacity bandwidth in the most efficient manner for years to come.

Telxius' Mistral cable lands in Peru

Telxius confirmed that its South Pacific Submarine Cable (SPSC) or ‘Mistral’ cable has landed in Peru.

The Mistral project, carried out jointly by Claro and Telxius and supplied by Subcom, has required a significant investment for the deployment of approximately 7,300 kilometers of state-of-the-art  fiber optic submarine cable, which provides greater transmission capacity (72 Tbps) and redundancy to Peru. This is the first new submarine cable to Peru in nearly 20 years.

The cable is expected to be ready for service by mid-2021.

José Luis Díaz Ramírez, General Manager of Telxius Cable in Peru, highlighted the boost that this project will give to communications in Peru and in the Pacific coast countries of Latin America, as well as enabling us to continue offering our customers the highest levels of service, reliability and security. “With the Mistral, the first submarine cable to reach Peru since 2001, the country’s communications will be ready to handle the explosion of data traffic expected as a result of the development of new technologies such as 5G.”

Additionally, Telxius has six more cables connecting Latin America, three of them new generation cables: SAm-1, a 25,000 km fiber-optic cable ring circumnavigating Latin America; and on the Atlantic coast, Brusa, a 11,000-km submarine cable system linking Virginia Beach (USA) with San Juan (Puerto Rico), Fortaleza (Brazil) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Junior, which takes over from Brusa in Rio de Janeiro and connects with Santos (Brazil), and Tannat, linking Santos with Las Toninas (Argentina). Also, the Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS), which runs from Ecuador to Jacksonville (Florida) and lastly, Unisur, which links Las Toninas (Argentina) with Maldonado (Uruguay).

Lumentum again raises its bid for Coherent to $6.9 billion

Lumentum Holdings delivered a higher acquisition offer to Coherent's Board of Directors. The new cash and stock offer is valued at $6.9 billion. 

Under the terms of the revised proposal, Coherent stockholders would receive $220.00 per share in cash and 0.6100 shares of Lumentum common stock for each Coherent share they own. Using Lumentum's closing stock price as of March 16, 2021, this equates to a consideration of $275.00 per Coherent share. As part of Lumentum's revised proposal, Silver Lake, the global leader in technology investing, will make a $1 billion equity investment in the combined company.

"Our Board of Directors remains steadfast in our belief that the combination of Lumentum and Coherent will create a diversified industry leader best positioned to accelerate the future of photonics," said Alan Lowe, Lumentum President and CEO. "Based on additional work, we are confident that we can meaningfully exceed our prior synergy estimates and have identified an estimated $219 million to $244 million of annual run-rate synergies. We are pleased to now pursue this combination with the support of Silver Lake, whose investment is a compelling indicator of the power of this transformative opportunity. We look forward to combining the talented teams at Coherent and Lumentum at a time when global markets are increasingly relying on photonics products and technologies."

"We are very familiar with Lumentum and Coherent and have a clear line of sight into the unique breadth of opportunity created by this combination," said Ken Hao, Chairman and Managing Partner, Silver Lake. "We believe strongly in the potential of the increased scale, expanded portfolio, and bolstered capabilities of the proposed combination and look forward to supporting Alan and the management team as investors and a member of the Board."

Coherent receives a higher offer from II-VI

On Friday, March 12, Coherent's board of directors once again determined that a revised acquisition proposal from II-VI Incorporated was a superior acquisition proposal. On Thursday, March 10, Coherent had announced a revised acquisition agreement with Lumentum.  Under the new deal with II-VI, each share of Coherent common stock would be exchanged for $195.00 in cash and 1.0 share of II-VI common stock at the completion of the transaction. ​

Coherent said it has notifed Lumentum that it intends to terminate their amended merger agreement unless Coherent receives a revised proposal from Lumentum by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on March 17, 2021.

 Lumentum agreed to acquire Coherent in a cash and stock transaction valued at $5.7 billion, with Coherent stockholders receiving $100.00 per share in cash and 1.1851 shares of Lumentum common stock for each Coherent share they own. The combination will create a leading photonics company with significant positions in the growing market for photonics, an expansive global customer base and a well-diversified revenue mix. The transaction value...

UK completes 5G spectrum auction

Ofcom, the official telecoms regulator for the UK,, completed an auction of 200 MHz of spectrum split across two bands:

  • 80 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band. These airwaves consist of 2x30 MHz of paired frequency spectrum, and 20 MHz of supplementary downlink spectrum. The 700 MHz airwaves are ideal for providing wide area coverage – including in the countryside.
  • 120 MHz of spectrum in 3.6-3.8 GHz band. These important airwaves are part of the primary band for 5G and capable of boosting mobile data capacity, carrying lots of data-hungry connections.

Four companies – EE Limited, Hutchison 3G UK Limited, Telefónica UK Limited and Vodafone Limited – took part in the principal stage of the auction, which involved them bidding for airwaves in 34 ‘lots’ to determine how much of the available spectrum they each secured. Principal stage bidding has now ended and Ofcom has published the results.

Results of the principal stage

  • EE Limited has won 2x10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £280,000,000; 20 MHz of supplementary downlink spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £4,000,000; and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band at a cost of £168,000,000.
  • Hutchison 3G UK Limited has won 2x10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £280,000,000.
  • Telefónica UK Limited has won 2x10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £280,000,000; and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band at a cost of £168,000,000.
  • Vodafone Limited has won 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band at a cost of £176,400,000.

The total revenue raised from the principal stage is £1,356,400,000. The money raised by this auction will be passed on to HM Treasury.

FCC to auction 3.45-3.55 GHz for 5G

The FCC adopted rules to reallocate 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band for flexible use wireless services.  The FCC's action also establishes a framework for the 3.45 GHz band that will enable robust commercial use by an array of service providers, while also ensuring that federal incumbents are still protected from harmful interference where and when they require continued access to the band. 

Collectively, the 3.45 GHz band and the neighboring 3.5 GHz and 3.7 GHz bands represent 530 megahertz of contiguous mid-band spectrum for 5G, the next generation of wireless services.  5G networks will kickstart the next big digital transformation and connect more people and more things in more places.

Last year’s Consolidated Appropriations Act required the Commission to commence a system of competitive bidding for licenses in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band by the end of this year.  The action taken today positions the agency to meet this obligation, and it marks progress towards fulfilling Congress’s directive in the MOBILE NOW Act for the FCC to work with NTIA to evaluate the feasibility of allowing commercial use in the 3.1-3.55 GHz band.  

FCC seeks input on O-RAN

The FCC has opened a formal discussion on the opportunities and potential challenges presented by open and virtualized radio access networks, and how the FCC might leverage these concepts to support network security and 5G leadership.  The FCC seeks comment on the current status of development and deployment, whether and how the FCC might foster the success of these technologies, and how to support competitiveness and new entrant access to this emerging market.

The FCC is now seeking comment on the current status of Open RAN development and deployment in networks in the US and abroad.  It asks about the role of established large manufacturers and new entrants in setting standards for this new network architecture.  It seeks input on what steps should be taken by the FCC, federal partners, industry, academia, and others to accelerate the timeline for Open RAN standards development.  Further, it seeks comment on any challenges or other considerations related to the deployment, integration, and testing of systems based on Open RAN specifications.  

The NOI also requests comment on the costs and benefits associated with Open RAN development and deployment.

DE-CIX interconnects with Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge platform

DE-CIX has established interconnections with Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge platform. 

The interconnections give edge applications global reach via thousands of networks that interconnect through DE-CIX Dallas and DE-CIX Chicago, as well as via extended reach to DE-CIX New York, where those same applications can access efficient network routes through DE-CIX’s GlobePEER Remote service. DE-CIX’s global neutral interconnection ecosystem reaches all the way from the DE-CIX IXs in North America, to Europe, the Middle East, and India, and on to Southeast Asia, connecting close to 2200 networks overall. DE-CIX interconnection services are available today from Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge locations in Dallas and Chicago using Vapor IO’s web portal and its software-controlled Kinetic Edge Exchange platform.

“Edge applications aren’t just for local processing. They are often dependent on national and global reach, which is why our customers are excited to enrich their edge connectivity via access to thousands of networks on the DE-CIX platform,” said Cole Crawford, founder & CEO of Vapor IO. “DE-CIX is an exceptional addition to our service offering. Customers can leverage DE-CIX interconnection capabilities through our SDN platform, enabling autonomous, software defined interconnection that enables best-in-class data delivery to content, high-volume networks, and service providers in local, national and international markets via a single Kinetic Edge port connection to DE-CIX.”

“We’re excited to offer DE-CIX Chicago’s and DE-CIX Dallas’s local and remote peering capabilities through the Kinetic Edge platform. Accessibility on the Kinetic Edge platform provides SDN access to DE-CIX IXs, enabling Vapor’s edge data center and network customers the ability to reach our ecosystem of networks,” adds Ed d’Agostino, General Manager of DE-CIX North America. “Through the established NNIs with Vapor’s network in Chicago and Dallas, in conjunction with their SDN capabilities, DE-CIX’s 2021 goal of enabling greater edge access to DE-CIX’s North American exchanges is firmly in motion. Vapor’s Kinetic Edge is an ideal platform to enable connectivity from the edge to our core IX infrastructure.

FCC to revoke licenses for China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks, and ComNet.

The FCC has begun revocation proceedings against China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks, and ComNet on national security grounds. The process could prohibit these carriers from continued operation in the U.S.  

Commissioner Carr issued the following statement:

“In 2019, when we blocked China Mobile USA from entering the U.S. market based on national security concerns, I said it was time for a top to bottom review of every telecom carrier with ties to the communist regime in China.  Many of these firms were authorized to operate in the U.S. decades ago and the security threats have evolved substantially in the intervening years.  With that type of review in mind, the FCC opened investigations into several carriers—including the carriers at issue here, China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks, and ComNet.  We have provided them with the process necessary for the FCC to identify and eliminate any threats they may pose to America’s national security.  

“These three carriers provided incomplete and inconsistent responses that failed to address these threats and in turn raised fresh concerns about their ability to follow FCC rules.  The Executive Branch agencies with responsibility for national security reviews have echoed these concerns and advise that traffic on these networks ‘remains subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government.’  I therefore agree with the Commission’s determination today.  The potential national security threats posed by these carriers requires the FCC to initiate revocation proceedings.

“The threat to our networks from entities aligned with Communist China is one that we must address head on, and I am pleased that the FCC continues to show the strength and resolve necessary to meet this menace.  When it comes to Communist China, we have set a high bar for action over the last few years, and I look forward to continuing to work with my FCC colleagues on ways to protect America’s communications networks and in turn our national security.”