euNetworks announced that it has completed a strategic investment of critical fibre-based internet infrastructure linking London and Amsterdam, including the delivery of a new subsea high fibre count cable system named Scylla that is now in service. This is the first subsea cable system between the UK and the Netherlands since 1999.
euNetworks builds and invests in its city and long haul fibre networks to connect the key data centres and data centre hubs across the UK and Europe. The company builds Super Highways on long haul routes that are critical to Europe’s future international bandwidth needs and uses low loss fibre on these routes to deliver a low cost per bit long haul solution for its customers.
This latest ultra high capacity fibre system extends euNetworks’ unique Super Highway network onto the Continent after delivering Super Highway 1 linking Dublin and London to Lowestoft in November 2019. euNetworks’ second Super Highway links Lowestoft via the new submarine cable Scylla to IJmuiden and then onto Amsterdam. Combined with euNetworks’ extensive metro networks in Dublin, Manchester, London and Amsterdam, the system enables any data centre to any data centre connectivity between all these metros on euNetworks’ owned and operated fibre, end-to-end.
Detailed design and permitting studies were initiated in August 2019, construction started in April 2020 and services were delivered to customers at the beginning of September 2021. This low loss network is entirely new fibre deployment. The terrestrial backhaul networks utilise new low-loss Corning SMF28 Ultra G657.A1 fibre cables and three entirely new amplification sites for the two cable landings and intermediate repeater in the UK. With existing sites and backhauls built over 20 years ago, these new facilities eliminate the unreliability of old infrastructure and provide scalable and power-efficient amplification housing, with significantly reduced long-run power demands.
Scylla itself is a non-hybrid 96 pair double-armoured sea cable, solely using Corning’s SMF28 ULL (ultra-low loss) G654.C pure silica fibre; giving all customers the benefit of future-proofed ultra-low attenuation on the 211km (cable landing station to cable landing station) unrepeatered system. This low attenuation is critical to achieving lowest cost per bit, directly driving greater bandwidth per fixed-cost transponder.
The North Sea has traditionally been a hostile environment for subsea cables, with a combination of high water current, a mobile sandy seabed and intense fishing presenting regular service challenges due to cable cuts. euNetworks planned and developed Scylla using new technology to both minimise these risks and also to lower the environmental impact from the cable laying process. During planning and mapping, the seabed was modelled to identify sand wave movement together with fishing intensity in areas with historic cable strikes.
This highlighted potential areas of risk for the cable lay and subsequent path modification or planned deeper cable burial. euNetworks also used an innovative cable laying technique for telecom cables, utilising a CAPJET trenching system – a high powered water jet more commonly used for power cables – to create the 2-3 metre deep but narrow trench for the cable to lay in. The CAPJET uniquely enables greater precision and ‘micro-routing’ during the cable lay process. The remotely operated system with on-board telemetry allows for steering in real-time.
The low ploughing tension allows for quick manoeuvrability, delivering a finer cable lay plan, burial between the troughs in natural sand formations and subsequent deeper burying of the cable over time. This contrasts with a traditional ploughed burial, which may achieve theoretically similar depths, but must follow much straighter paths over sand waves with amplitudes of 8m and pitches of 12o. Such an approach creates risks to the initial lay, uneven burial depth and still leaves the probability of the cable becoming unburied over time.
As well as ensuring deeper burial naturally, laying the cable with precision and less impact on the seabed, euNetworks has buried Scylla up to 3 metres deep versus typical 0.7 metres for existing systems, offering better protection against strikes both today and in the future.
On land the company has also designed and planned this new network with sustainability in mind. The route is designed with optimal spacing and attenuation loss between amplifier sites, meaning less ILA/PoP sites compared to other routes in service. The use of modern fibre types plus a reduction in ILA sites along the route meant less construction during deployment, less resources and less power consumption in service.
In addition, the technology used within the new ILA sites is new, with more efficient air conditioning monitoring the air being drawn in and hence using less power when cooling. Overall this approach delivers a much lower power consumption per bit and delivers an optimised low carbon footprint network infrastructure.
“This Super Highway is an important investment in Western European bandwidth infrastructure,” said Brady Rafuse, Chief Executive Officer of euNetworks. “We’ve delivered the first new subsea cable on this important route in 20 years and delivered a unique route running between London and Amsterdam to support the many businesses whose connectivity requirements continue to grow. Critically for our customers, this network development continues our approach of delivering highly scalable, owned and operated fibre based sustainable infrastructure to support their needs.”
“We extend our thanks to all those who have worked with us on this project. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our customers in these regions and across our networks, delivering the bandwidth experience and scale they need,” said Rafuse.