Xtera Enhances Its Portfolio with the Release of its Innovative Branching Unit for Subsea Cable Systems
Xtera Communications, Inc., a leading provider of high-capacity, cost-effective optical transport solutions, today announced the release of its subsea Branching Unit (BU) that builds on the technology successfully deployed in its repeater. Branching units are used in submarine cable systems to provide traffic and power routing between the trunk and branch cables, enabling complex and reconfigurable network architecture for more flexible capacity configurations (as requested in networks where IP packets form the dominant traffic), and simpler fault recovery.
Following customer feedback that re-configuring the powering of a system can be time-consuming and difficult, Xtera has used the supervisory system to allow operators to switch the BU powering simply by sending commands. This avoids the need to disconnect or change the polarity of Power Feed Equipment (PFE) or arrange for synchronized ramping to ensure the desired current flow during re-configuration. There is also circuitry to minimize the effects of current surges, to allow hot-switching and to hold the configuration during a power dip.
“We have focused on making the BU robust and easy to use,” said Stuart Barnes, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Xtera Submarine Business. “Our innovative supervisory also makes it possible for a user to check the BU operation via the network management system.”
Xtera offers innovative turnkey solutions for building new subsea infrastructure, upgrading existing submarine cable systems, or recovering and re-laying existing cable assets.
Source: Xtera Press Release
ANALYSIS: Xtera continues to build its capability, executing on a technology strategy which is clearly focused on taking a share of the repeatered market. The ability to include a BU in its system design will enable Xtera to bid for projects in the "regional in-fill" market segment i.e. medium haul regional systems connecting national markets to international hubs. This segment is quite active at the moment. As examples, since releasing their repeater at the end of 2013, Xtera has won a contract with Cable & Wireless (now Vodafone) to install their repeater on the existing "HUGO" system (UK-France via Channel Islands); a contract with the US Military for a new repeatered cable connecting the Guantanamo Bay outpost to the US mainland; and a turnkey contract to supply the G2A Consortium with a repeatered submarine cable system that will connect Salalah (Oman) to Bosaso (Puntland, Somalia) and Berbera (Somaliland, Somalia). The G2A system design includes a BU.
Despite a lackluster IPO and continued rumors in the market that Xtera has run out of cash, the company continues to execute on its technology strategy, to win business with its efforts to penetrate the repeatered market, and to maintain its market share in the upgrade market. By themselves, these are all relatively small wins but collectively they probably add up to a sustainable business. As Huawei Marine has done over the last eight years, establishment of a competitive position in the submarine system supply market takes patience and a lot of small wins to build credibility. Neither Huawei Marine nor Xtera are ever likely to challenge ASN or TE SubCom as market leaders but, along with Padtec, this secondary layer of turnkey system suppliers keeps the market leaders honest.
Julian Rawle, Author
Thought leadership articles and commentary on developments related to the subsea fibre optic cable industry can be found here.