Huwai Marine: Improving Global Connectivity with Ground Breaking SubMarine NetWork Solutions

Submarine cables form the very backbone of the internet, by facilitating the world’s connectivity as over 98percent of all data and voice communications traverse along this ocean-spanning critical network infrastructure.

Rapid technological advancements such as 4G and 5G mobile networks, the introduction of new data-intensive applications like 4K and 8K streaming video/TV, the rising popularity of social media platforms, and the escalating adoption of cloud computing underpin the importance of the global submarine cable network; transmitting light across the oceans to enable the world to function in today’s fast-moving, data-driven global digital economy.

As India is rapidly developing to become one of the world’s most important economic powerhouses, the nation will need to rely on this undersea infrastructure to satisfy the insatiable demand for international bandwidth. India’s geographical location, positioned between South East Asia and Europe coupled with its vast population creates an opportunity for new submarine cable investment to further propel India into the next generation business ecosystem, and enable its development as a key regional ICT hub. This mammoth task requires the handful of submarine cable network providers to possess industry-rich expertise, cutting-edge technology and an appetite to work in the depths of the most hostile environment on the planet.

Huawei Marine founded in 2008, maintains a leading position in this domain, offering robust, cost-effective high-speed submarine network systems throughout the globe. Having partnered with a broad spectrum of blue-chip telecommunication organisations, the team of 400 highly skilled professionals has delivered 80 submarine cable projects, spanning 68 countries touching almost every region and every continent. The joint venture company was conceived to drive much-needed industry innovation by combining the optical transmission and telecommunications expertise of parent company - Huawei Technologies Ltd, and the marine engineering and installation vessels of Global Marine Systems Ltd (UK).

Mike Constable, Chief Executive

As a technology driven company, the success of Huawei Marine is underpinned by their focus on investment in research and development. Huawei Marine’s R&D team comprises of approximately 30 percent of their employees, who are tasked with developing new technology and an innovation-driven approach to changing the way of doing things. “I think our differentiation goes beyond our products and our technology, and rests within our people and our culture” states Mike Constable, Chief Executive of Huawei Marine. “Wehave a talented, extremely motivated team who thrive on challenges and achieving the impossible. That energy and dedication is a unique asset that cannot be quantified or easily replicated.”

The company incorporates a range of services to successfully deliver a complete endto- end submarine cable system, including feasibility studies, marine route survey, marine installation, test and commissioning to comprehensive training to enable their customers to operate the completed system.

To design and engineer state-of-the-art network solutions, the company is dedicated to advancing the development of its optical transmission and network management technology. This work is combined with manufacturing advanced submerged plant such as optical amplifiers and branching units that are placed up to eight kilometers below the ocean surface and operate for 25 years.

Huawei Marine’s SLTE equipment, enables the transmission of light through a single glass fibre across the vast ocean distances; up to 14,000 km. This advanced equipment is also the single portal that seamlessly integrates both submarine and terrestrial fibre networks by simplifying network management while reducing capital and operational expenditure.“Our technology supports a range of coherent line rates or transmission speeds, including 100 GB/s, 200 GB/s and in the near future, 400 GB/s and 1 Tb/s line rates,” adds Mike.

Navigating Multiple Regulatory Jurisdictions
Laying ocean-spanning submarine cables to between countries and continents involves crossing the multiple legal jurisdictions of sovereign nations that the cable route will pass through. This cross-border challenge is unique to deploying submarine cables and if not managed effectively, will lead to project delays and considerable cost over runs.

Huawei Marine’s team of in-house regulatory and permitting experts are tasked to coordinate this complex process not just with national, state and local authorities to address the security, environmental and legal requirements of each country, but also with third-party stakeholders who have a vested interest in the project.
The company oversees the entire project development and implementation, including project management of long-term partners who provide specialised services and components to manufacture the high-tech telecoms equipment. “Managing this complex supply chain and the project implementation requires a collaborative teamwork approach which is critical for success, and one that we pride ourselves on,” informs Mike.

Comprehensive Quality Assurance and Quality control procedures throughout the procurement and manufacturing phases ensures the extremely high system reliability required to operate in the harsh environment and high pressures experienced deep within the oceans.

Maximising Investment in Africa
Along with delivering new-build cable systems, Huawei has also carved a niche for itself in the upgrade market sector which significantly increases the capacity of an existing submarine cable system. The company is held with high regard for designing and delivering systems with an operational life of 25 years. Mike reveals, “We future-proof our system designs to be upgradeable to new technology in the future, enabling our customers to maximize their return on investment.”

"The team of 400 highly skilled professionals has delivered 80 submarine cable projects, spanning 68 countries touching almost every region and every continent"

One of the company’s notable projects was conducted in 2015 with the successful completion of the upgrade of an existing submarine cable system that links Africa to Europe; a total length of over 14,000 km. This project involved installing, testing and commissioning equipment in numerous cable landing stations in over a dozen different countries. This was achieved on a live cable which means the cable was not taken out of service for the work to be completed. In doing so, Huawei Marine achieved an industry first by successfully overlaying the transmission of 100 GB/s wavelengths over a distance in excess of 11,000 km.

Extending Innovative Solutions across the Globe
Within ten short years, Huawei Marine has achieved a number of industry “first’s”; the first to introduce new titanium materials to submerged plant design, the first to transmit 400 GB/s across the Atlantic on an existing cable system, and the first to transmit 100 GB/s capacity without regeneration on an unrepeatered system in excess of 640 km.

During this time, Huawei Marine has developed a proven track record and currently has several projects underway in Mexico, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, South East Asia, Mauritius and is on track to complete the company’s first 6,000 km trans-Atlantic system connecting Africa to South America. In parallel, the team is rapidly advancing the development of the first 200 GB/s system, the Pakistan-East Africa Cable Express (PEACE) system that will provide a high-speed, large capacity super highway connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The company firmly believes in supporting its customer’s growth aspirations by providing tailor-made financing solutions through vendor finance initiatives, local or international banks or with Export Credit Agencies. Mike added, “Our belief that assisting our customers to optimise their cash flow and balance sheet and enhance their profitability is fundamental to adding value. In recent years we have been very successful in providing bespoke project finance solutions and are looking forward to building upon that success.”

Huawei Marine’s journey is only beginning as it is poised to further enrich connectivity between people and play a critical role in transforming the world’s digital economy.

Facilitating Economic Development
Completing a decade in this industry, Huawei Marine is a turnkey submarine cable system provider that specializes in designing innovative network solutions, manufacturing and integrating leading-edge telecommunications technology and successfully deploys this complex, international telecommunications infrastructure on a global scale.

The company has recently signed a contract to assist the Chilean Government to develop the southern regions of Chile and bring much needed connectivity to the region. “This is an exciting project for HMN as it marks the return to the South American continent since our first project 10 years ago” says Mike Constable, Chief Executive. “The project is on target for completion in 2019 with both the feasibility study and marine route survey activities already completed.”The southern ocean location will provide extremely challenging weather conditions for the marine installation vessels when deployment of the 2,800 km cable system will begin in April 2019.

With the system due for commissioning in 22 months, the Chilean population will recognize the immediate social and economic benefits this high speed, large capacity telecommunications infrastructure will bring to the region.