In the latest drive to grow the Nordics’ data centre and cloud industry, Equinix has announced it is working with Eastern Light to deploy a repeaterless fiber cable in Northern Europe connecting Sweden (Stockholm) to Finland (Hanko, Helsinki and Kotka). The 48-fiber pair submarine cable will terminate in two Equinix International Business Exchange (IBX) data centres: HE6 in Helsinki and SK2 in Stockholm, providing a potential total initial design capcaity of 384 Tbit/s. Use of the IBX data centers as both landing stations and interconnection hubs reduces complexity and improves reliability, Equinix says.
Eastern Light's main supplier of its sea cable system is NSW (Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke) and the system has been optimized to feature Ciena's GeoMesh services as part of its dark fibre offering. The Sweden to Finland portion of the cable is scheduled for completion in autumn 2017.
Equinix said the investment comes as global enterprises look to capitalise on the business opportunity in the Nordics.
By connecting to Equinix data centres, Eastern Light and its dark fiber customers will be given access to the Equinix’s business ecosystems and interconnection platform – Platform Equinix -, providing access to the markets and ecosystems worldwide. The carrier-neutral approach of the Equinix IBXs enable submarine network operators to offer excess network capacity to customers quickly and efficiently.
Eric Schwartz, president EMEA, Equinix, said: “The vast majority of global data traffic is carried through submarine cables – this is critical infrastructure.
A greater proliferation of these cables is essential in this digital age, when organizations depend on instant connectivity to markets and partners worldwide.
“As subsea cables connect more places, they enable the low latency that realtime technologies like those supporting electronic trading and the Internet of Things require.”
In addition to the cable route announced with Equinix, Eastern Light is in the process of building a series of new international fiber optic cable routes in northern Europe, with a focus on selling dark fiber to operators as well as other customers with special requirements for controlling their own infrastructure.
Svante Jurnell, CEO and founder, Eastern Light, said: “We see a huge potential in connecting our system to Equinix’ data centres. Eastern Light’s focus is to build and provide efficient long-haul dark fiber routes in the Nordic region, and the new link between Equinix’ HE6 and SK2 data centres will be considerably more direct and cost-effective than existing routes.”
Adapted from: telecompaper.com, data-economy.com, Lightwave, telecomidag.com.se
ANALYSIS: Eastern Lights’ web site names the company’s principals as Svante Jurnell (CEO) and Fredrik Hane. According to telecomidag.com and LinkedIn, Jurnell and Hane “previously founded, but now left, “IP-Only”, a provider of dark fiber metro networks in Sweden. According to LinkedIn, Svante Jurnell set up Eastern Lights as early as 2011 but this is the first time that the broader industry has heard the name.
According to Eastern Lights’ website, “Eastern Light’s focus is to build and sell long-haul dark fiber routes to operators as well as to other kinds of customers with special requirements for controlling their own infrastructure. The company is owned by the founders together with a group of private Scandinavian investors, and the infrastructure build-out is financed through a combination of equity and senior debt from large Scandinavian banks.”
Beyond the initial cable build between Sweden and Finland, Eastern Lights is planning a second repeaterless festoon system which will connect Finland to Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany with onward terrestrial duct-based fiber from Rostock, to Berlin.
Jurnell’s and Hane’s fiber infrastructure pedigree is clear to see in the succinct description of their business model: “Our main product is dark fiber IRUs, on top of which our customers may install their own transmission equipment of their choice. Therefore we are building a non-amplified, festooned cable system, meaning that the cable goes onshore at regular intervals into purpose-built shelters where we provide rack-space for our customers’ equipment. The shelters include power supply, reserve power (diesel engines) and HVAC equipment (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). From the shelters, connections may be made to national, regional, and local fiber networks. Dark fiber IRUs are offered for the cable system’s entire length as well as for individual stretches between specific locations. Eastern Light takes full responsibility for the long-term maintenance and fault-repair of each component of its cable system, and has service agreements in place with well-established suppliers with extensive experience from similar work in the region.”
Although the basic business model is dark fiber, Eastern Lights has also aligned itself with Ciena to provide terminal equipment if customers want a more turnkey solution.
After many years of inactivity, the Baltic region has suddenly come alive. First, Cinia in Finland built the “C-Lion” cable system from Finland to Germany; then Telia invested in upgrading existing Baltic submarine cables; and now Eastern Lights has materialized.
The Scandinavian climate and, in some places, availability of affordable green energy have encouraged Content Providers and Data Center developers to start looking seriously at this region as a data storage hub. However, the new dynamic in recent years which is really driving new submarine cable investment in the Baltic off the drawing board and into the water is shifting geo-political circumstances: the rise of China and its desire to get connected to the West; and the reassertion of regional power by the Russians.
It will be challenging in these circumstances for Jurnell and Hane to provide a business case to potential equity investors and banks that verifiably quantifies the economic benefit of the as yet nebulous opportunities that may arise as a result of these geo-political shifts. More than likely, they will have to secure a large anchor tenant, such as a global content provider, at a below-cost price for dark fiber, to reduce the risk for others to invest.
Julian Rawle, Author
Thought leadership articles and commentary on developments related to the subsea fibre optic cable industry can be found here.