Friendship cable: Orange is still digging

The arrival of Facebook’s submarine cable network on the French coast has a setback. Postponed due to bad weather conditions last February, the landing of the cable off the Porge, on the Aquitaine coast, was finally scheduled for the end of May. Alas, this one could finally be postponed again to next September.

While the Orange teams – which operates as a “landing party”, responsible for the French part of this cable – had initially planned to connect the cable initiated by Facebook to the French coast last February, the bad weather has complicated the task of the operator’s teams. “It was too dangerous for the divers … everything had to be canceled and postponed to another date when the two ships [le CS Recorder et le Viking Energy, NDLR] were available, ”said Jean-Luc Vuillemin, director of Orange’s international networks and recognized expert in this highly strategic web“ backbone ”market on Twitter.

An appointment was therefore made at the end of May to finalize the arrival of the cable at Porge, near Bordeaux. Problem: the movement of the seabed made the task more complicated than expected for the crews of ships chartered by Orange. If the cable deposited this winter in the seabed by the operator’s teams was quickly located, they had difficulty clearing the sand to find the underwater drilling carried out in February.

Landing pending

“We’re going to have to come back with more powerful equipment, because in fact we know where the end is, but we haven’t been able to clear it. At high tide, the divers cleared but did not reach the end before low tide. And when they came back, everything had to be done again, ”explained Jean-Luc Vuillemin at the beginning of June. The only question that then arose was that of the possible timetable for carrying out this high-precision task.

The answer was not long in coming. “At Le Porge, this weekend, we did not succeed in finding the culmination of the underwater cable line. The ship will therefore leave and deal with the British side. A new attempt will have to be planned but, taking into account the summer period on the beaches, it will not be before September ”, indicates the director of the international networks of Orange via Twitter.

This is a new twist for the Amitié cable which, like Google’s Dunant cable, must bring the “backbones of the global Internet” into a new generation, thanks to tenfold capacities. Together, these submarine fiber optic cables have a capacity greater than that of all the existing systems in service on the transatlantic front, noted the staff of the incumbent at the start of the year. .

A new generation cable

The Amitié cable, a network of fiber optic cables with a total length of 6,800 km, carrying 16 fiber pairs with a maximum capacity of 23 Tbit / s each and initiated by Facebook, will be operational from the beginning of 2022. The construction of this gigantic project, estimated at 250 million euros, was entrusted to the French specialist Alcatel Submarine Networks, a subsidiary of the Finnish Nokia, while Orange acts – as on the Dunant cable – as a “landing party”, responsible for ensuring the maintenance of landing stations on the French coast.

The cable initiated by Facebook will provide a connection between the State of Massachusetts (in the United States), Le Porge (in France, near Bordeaux) and Bude (in England). Note that Vodafone for its part plays the role of “landing party” on the British coast.

In fact, the Dunant and Amitié projects confirm the growing importance of the digital giants in the ecosystem of fiber optic connectivity. “Today, the market is gradually dominated by GAFA, which could represent 80% of the bandwidth passing through submarine cables within two to three years”, explained Jean-Luc Vuillemin, Network Director. and International Services at Orange, surveyed in spring 2019 by .

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