flag ready to fly next month

Aug. 1, 1997

flag ready to fly next month

By STEPHEN HARDY

The Fiberoptic Link Around the Globe (flag) cable project, which will provide an undersea telecommunications highway from the United Kingdom through the Middle East to Japan, should be ready for provisional acceptance early next month. With construction of the last undersea segment completed this past June, final testing of the fiber-optic network is now under way. flag could be ready for commercial service by this November, say sources at nynex Global Systems, White Plains, NY, which is responsible for the construction, sales, and marketing of the network.

As reported previously (see Lightwave, October 1996, page 1), the 28,000-km flag network will provide 10-Gbit/sec Synchronous Digital Hierarchy transmission. Two 5.3-Gbit/sec fiber pairs will carry 120,000 bearer circuits. Frank Denniston, vice president and chief engineer at nynex Global Systems, says the network could carry as many as 600,000 simultaneous telephone conversations, depending on the compression scheme used by the customer.

In addition to nynex, other flag sponsors include Dallah Al-Baraka Group, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Marubeni Corp. of Japan; Gulf Associates, New York; Telecom Holding Co. Ltd., Thailand; The Asian Infrastructure Fund, Hong Kong; and GE Capital Services, Stamford, CT. This group has landing partners at each of the network`s terrestrial points. These companies include Mercury Telecom (UK), Telefonica (Spain), Telecom Italia (Italy), arento (Egypt), Etisalat (United Arab Emirates), bsnl (India), Telecom Malaysia, the Communications Authority of Thailand, Hong Kong Telecom International, China Telecom (Shanghai, China), Korea Telecom, and Kokusai Denshin Denwa (kdd) and idc (both of Japan).

The flag Network Operations Center in Fujaihra, United Arab Emirates, will serve as the system`s nerve center. at&t Submarine Systems Inc. (at&t ssi--soon to be a part of Tyco International Ltd.) has constructed the center with the help of various subcontractors, including Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA. at&t ssi served as one of two prime contractors for the project, alongside kdd Submarine Cable Systems of Japan. Cable & Wireless Marine of the United Kingdom performed most of the cable laying, using cable from Hitachi, Simplex Technologies (another Tyco affiliate), and occ of Japan (see photo).

Other major subcontractors on the project include nec of Japan (amplifiers, high-speed terminal equipment, and add/drop multiplexers); Mitsubishi of Japan (amplifiers); Lucent Technologies, Warren, NJ, (digital crossconnects); and Anritsu of Japan (line-measurement equipment). In addition, ibm, Rye, NY, has contributed hardware.

Denniston says that "some of the major carriers" are among the customers already in line to use the network when it opens in November. However, a full list of clients could not be revealed. Denniston did disclose, however, that service providers in Germany, Kuwait, and Ukraine are slated to transmit traffic over the network.

As of press time, nynex reports that testing or commissioning of cable has already begun, and the company has transmitted light and data from the United Kingdom to India. q

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