Cinia Group completed a submarine data cable between Germany and Finland. The new digital highway offers a route to connect Central Europe with data centre locations in Northern Europe and business opportunities in Eastern Europe and Asia.
The Cinia C-Lion1 submarine data cable is a key initiative for both the Finnish government and the EU. The cable contributes to the Digital Single Market for Europe by enabling connectivity and redundancy to the Nordic region and further improving Finland’s position as a gateway between the East and the West. The new connection is planned to be commercially available during spring 2016, following a commissioning and acceptance process.
The Finnish government made a decision to build a submarine data cable across the Baltic Sea in November 2014, based on a feasibility study conducted in May 2013. The completed cable totals 1,172 kilometers in length and consists of eight optical fibre pairs with a total capacity of 120 Tbit/s. The cable was manufactured in Calais by Alcatel-Lucent, which also carried out the cable laying process across the Baltic Sea.
However, upon completion of the wet portion of the system, Cinia announced the selection of Xtera Communications, Inc., a leading provider of high-capacity, cost-effective optical transport solutions, for equipping a pan-European network to connect data centers across Europe. This long-distance network involves advanced technologies like 200G optical channel rate and Raman optical amplification for ultra-high link capacity. The same optical networking platform is used over terrestrial and subsea portions of this pan-European network, enabling a unified, seamless network from an operational perspective.
Cinia’s strategic ambition is to build and expand the cloud backbone to fuel the modern economy in Finland and Europe. Connectivity-wise, the objective of Cinia’s international long-haul optical transmission infrastructure is twofold: building a high-capacity optical backbone network to connect data centers in Scandinavia and Central Europe, and offering a low-latency route between Europe and Asia via the so called northern Silk Road route connecting Europe to China via Finland, Russia and Mongolia.
“The underlying rationale for Cinia and its main owners is that new investments in optical communication infrastructure create a growth path for the Finnish and European economies. Datacenters and IT connectivity is highly critical for enterprises and organizations. Increased and enhanced connectivity enables new innovations and provides new opportunities for global companies in industrial internet,” said Jukka-Pekka Joensuu, Executive Vice President of Cinia. “Partnering with an innovative supplier like Xtera helps Cinia develop an efficient optical backbone network and offer cutting edge connectivity services. Cinia’s new optical transmission infrastructure will provide big data, corporate customers and operators with a fast, reliable and high-quality network all over Europe.”
“The Cinia contract represents a further opportunity to showcase Xtera’s technical value proposition for Data Center Interconnect (DCI) applications: ultra-high capacity per fiber pair, long reach enabling site skipping for long-haul data center to data center networks, and operational simplicity offered by common management system, sparing and training throughout the network,” said Jon Hopper, President and Chief Executive Officer of Xtera. “Our disruptive Raman-based 200G/400G technology helps service providers and operators of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) face the inflection point where the optical communications industry needs both the fiber capacity and reach that Xtera can provide.”
Source: Telecom Paper, Xtera Press Release
For a government- and EU-sponsored project and an entity with practically no experience in building submarine fiber optic cable systems, Cinia has done extremely well to deliver the C-Lion project in just over two years from feasibility study to RFPA. Moreover, Cinia has adopted the new approach to system development which is gaining traction in the market i.e. disaggregating the wet equipment supply contract from the terminal equipment supply.
Traditional turnkey system suppliers like Alcatel Submarine Networks and TE SubCom have been forced to accept this new trend and are even actively promoting it. There is very little margin in the provision of terminal equipment and upgrade capacity these days but this new trend also reduces the amount of flexibility that submarine system suppliers have in cross-subsidizing one part of the supply contract with another.
There is no doubt that a country like Finland, with its burgeoning green power data center market, should have a direct connection to the European hub of Frankfurt but the original rationale for the cable remains questionable.
Among the many revelations by Edward Snowden, the Fins discovered that Sweden was sharing data culled from the Finland-Sweden cable with US intelligence agencies. Taking umbrage, the Finnish government immediately commissioned its own cable between Finland and Germany, somehow ignoring the fact that Germany, too, is a close ally of the US and likely also to be sharing intelligence.
Nevertheless, C-Lion will contribute to resiliency in the Baltic and serve the growing demand for data centre capacity in Finland.
The Press Release from Xtera indicates that Cinia is looking to build a network between Europe and Asia. Cinia are now interested in becoming involved in the "ROTACS" project which proposes to build a submarine fiber optic cable, connecting Scandinavia to Japan via Russian waters of the Arctic Ocean. This project has been talked about for twenty years. It remains to be seen whether Cinia can provide the momentum to move ROTACS forward.
Julian Rawle, Author
Thought leadership articles and commentary on developments related to the subsea fibre optic cable industry can be found here.