Submarine system crosses Atlantic at 40 Gbits/sec

June 1, 1997

Submarine system crosses Atlantic at 40 Gbits/sec

n GEORGE KOTELLY

at&t Submarine Systems Inc. (ssi), in Morristown, NJ, has been contracted to build a 14,000-km system--claimed to be the most powerful undersea network in the world and the first that will directly connect the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Global Telesystems Ltd., an investor-owned company sponsored by the Pacific Capital Group, is the owner of the optically amplified, four fiber-pair, self-healing Synchronous Digital Hierarchy network.

Named the Atlantic Crossing-1 (AC-1), the submarine system is slated to be implemented in two phases. Phase One, scheduled for completion in May 1998, will connect the United States and the United Kingdom via a 6000-km segment. Phase Two, scheduled for completion in November 1998, will join the United States and Germany via a 7000-km segment, and the United Kingdom and Germany with a 1000- to 2000-km segment, depending on the specific route selected.

It is expected that the AC-1 undersea system will integrate optical-fiber, wavelength-division-multiplexing (wdm) and erbium-doped fiber-amplifier (edfa) technologies to double the presently available transmission capacities and achieve rates of 10 Gbits/sec per fiber pair or a total of 40 Gbits/sec for four fiber pairs.

"New multimedia applications and Internet use, coupled with market changes driven by deregulation and decreases in accounting rate, have prompted a tremendous growth in telecommunications traffic in the North Atlantic region," says William B. Carter, president of at&t ssi. "The quantum leap in capacity we are taking is afforded by combining wdm and edfa technologies. These two technologies will allow AC-1 to meet and exceed the anticipated rise in capacity demand as we head into the twenty-first century," he adds.

The AC-1 agreement also marks the first time that a supplier such as at&t ssi is serving as the exclusive sales agent for an undersea cable project. In addition to being awarded both project management and construction contracts, at&t ssi is responsible for AC-1 operations, administration, and maintenance. Moreover, ssi is supplying the fiber-optic cable and the optical amplifiers. System parameters still under investigation include fiber dispersion control, number of optical amplifiers needed, and amplifier span distances.

According to Jack Sipress, at&t ssi chief technology officer, based in Holmdel, NJ, "Although the four fiber pairs or channels will start transmitting information at 2.5-Gbit/sec data rates, AC-1 will have the inherent capability of upgrading after the system is installed, but the details have not yet been developed. The first step might be to go to eight channels.

"Initial transmitted services are expected to include voice, data, Internet, and videoconferencing services. The global communications market needs the higher trans atlantic capacity. A market opportunity has emerged, and investors have decided to move quickly on the ever-increasing user demand for more bandwidth," says Sipress.

Tom Soja, senior analyst at Kessler Marketing Intelligence Corp., a fiber-optic market research company in Newport, RI, agrees. He says, "All of the transatlantic fiber-optic cable capacity is nearly sold out, except for cantat-3, which has approximately one-half of its capacity left. More capacity is needed now. The driving forces include the high demands for video, Internet, and data services, as well as the approved deregulation of telecommunications services in Europe. Traffic across the Atlantic has been growing for the past three years at astronomical rates; for example, data transmission is increasing at 90% per year."

Soja notes that AC-1 is the first private investor-owned carrier`s carrier fiber-optic undersea cable. The operational twist is that for the first time a single contractor [ssi] is doing everything: building, operating, and even selling services over the lifetime of the cable.

At about the same time, at&t Corp. agreed to sell its ssi undersea cable laying and maintenance operations to Tyco International Ltd. for $850 million. at&t declares that it has sold its ssi unit so that it could focus mainly on its primary core telecommunications business. By purchasing its main customer of fiber-optic cables, Tyco expects to add approximately $1 billion a year in revenues in fast-growing Internet communications services, among others, to its $170 million cable-production revenues. q

Jack Sipress, at&t ssi chief technology officer, says, "Although the four fiber pairs or channels will start transmitting information at 2.5-Gbit/sec data rates, AC-1 will have the inherent capability of upgrading after the system is installed, but the details have not yet been developed."

U.S. electronics sales up nearly $107 billion in first quarter

U.S. factory sales of electronics equipment, components, and related products totaled nearly $107 billion for the first quarter of 1997, representing an 8% increase over last year`s figures for the same period, according to data released by the Electronic Industries Association, Arlington, VA.

Electronic components sales rose 5% to $32.8 billion, over last year`s $31.3 billion. Consumer electronics increased 8% to $2.4 billion, compared to $2.2 billion in 1996. The telecommunications sector rose to $15.1 billion, up 13% over last year`s sales of $13.3 billion. Defense communications rose 6%, from last year`s $6.8 billion to $7.2 billion. The computers and peripherals sector hit $22 billion, experiencing growth of 7% over the 1996 first quarter figure of $20.6 billion. Electromedical equipment sales rose 9%, from $2.5 billion in 1996 to $2.7 billion this year. Industrial electronics sales dropped slightly, showing a 1% loss, with $8.25 billion, compared to last year`s $8.33 billion. Related products rose from $14.1 billion in 1996 to $16.3 billion in the first quarter of 1997, showing a 15% increase.

For more information call (703) 907-7790.

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