‘The Carriers’ Carrier’

Tech solutions

With technological innovation in network connectivity playing a greater role in business and society now more than ever before, the work of Aqua Comms, the transatlantic specialist of subsea cable networks, is proving vital. Supporting global carriers and media organisations in their missions to keep us connected, Aqua Comms is evolving to stay ahead in a rapidly advancing industry.

Established in 2014, Aqua Comms is an internationally renowned specialist in the field of subsea fibre-optic cable networks, that provides comprehensive services in the building and operation of submarine cable systems. From the planning, implementation and supply of fibre pairs and capacity services to the global media, content and carrier markets, Aqua Comms is committed to providing solutions for the web-scale providers that are so central to the international cloud industry.

Since its inception, Aqua Comms has continued to honour its commitments to exceptional performance and reliability in its solutions, positioning itself as the leading Transatlantic experts in subsea networks in the North Atlantic market. Run by its highly experienced team, Aqua Comms’ first networks AEC-1 and CC-1 remain the most advanced subsea cabling systems to connect Ireland, the UK and the US to Europe, enabling inimitable Transatlantic connectivity for global carriers, cloud-based networks, data centres, IT companies and the global media.

Today, Aqua Comms remains devoted to increasing connectivity across the North Atlantic, having launched its most recent project with consortium partners Facebook, Google and Bulk Infrastructure, a data centre operator situated in Norway. The HAVFRUE cable system is a new high-speed cable with a landing party in New Jersey, Ireland and Denmark, and forms a part of the North Atlantic Loop to offer next generation cable systems and diverse routing. Aqua Comms has been charged with the operation of the cable, owning a portion of the fibre pairs which has been called AEC-2, as the logical representation of the firm’s next step in connecting Transatlantic regions.

AEC-1 was conceived shortly before Aqua Comms came into being in 2014, when a private investor in a Transatlantic cable initiative previously called Emerald Networks acquired the Irish cable company, Sea Fibre Networks. In 2012, Sea Fibre Networks had built an undersea cable between Dublin and Holyhead in Wales called CC-1, which was the shortest, most secure crossing of the Irish sea. The private investor, then named Aqua Ventures International, capitalised on what was a period of high growth in the Irish economy to combine its own Transatlantic cable with CC-1 to create AEC-1. Extending from Shirley, Long Island, to Killala, Co. Mayo, Ireland, AEC-1 had the shortest passage through shallow water in the US, landing in western Ireland before going into Killala. It has dual diverse backhauls to Dublin to reach the Irish Sea and dual diverse backhauls across the UK to London.

Today, Aqua Comms continues to work alongside a multitude of carriers such as global content networks, wholesale carriers and global media organisations, never competing with clients but striving to deliver the best possible service as the ‘carriers’ carrier’. The surge in networks has been incoming since the turn of the century, which saw a monumental drive to build new, transatlantic cables. Soon into this momentum, however, the costs for building new cables jumped exponentially due to demand, coinciding with a collapse in the market in 2002. With a huge oversupply of capacity in the Atlantic, many of these cables went into bankruptcy, putting an end to new investments in cable systems.

However, with legacy cable systems typically having a lifespan of about twenty-five years, this oversupply is now coming to an end. Moreover, the economic life of these cables which has been somewhat extended through upgrades by equipment vendors is now no longer rational, with the cost of running these cables approximately the same as new cables, yet with approximately a tenth of the fibre capacity of their newer counterparts, approximately 4-5 Tbps per fibre pair compared to 20-30 Tbps per fibre pair today. That’s six to eight times the capacity for the same operating cost.

Thus, the launch of AEC-2 is the first of many new cables that Aqua Comms will play a part in installing over the coming months and years, including the brand-new cable across the Irish Sea called CC-2 and a cable across the North Sea running from Newcastle, in the UK, to Denmark, called North Sea Connect. Between them, these cables will create a series of ring-based structures between North America and Northern Europe that will be part of the North Atlantic Loop that has already been extended through the AEC-2.

Projects such as AEC-3, which is due to be launched in the first half of 2022, will see continued development of Transatlantic connectivity, while plans further down the pipeline expect to see exciting projects in the Arctic launched, focused on the development of new routes connecting Asia to Europe. In the next year, Aqua Comms also plans to introduce its ‘liquid products’, an automated offering that will be tailored to customers’ specific requirements in an innovative ‘bandwidth on demand’ concept. Clients will be able to grow their own speed through a fully flexible and dynamic model that can accommodate the ever-changing nature of innovation in the network industry in the form of developments such as 5G.

Aside from its expanding connectivity services, the firm is looking to develop its professional service offering further too. Currently providing everything from cable design and build through to provisioning and sales with an emphasis on operations and maintenance, Aqua Comms will also be able to manage submarine cable assets on behalf of third party owners, who will be able to benefit from the efficiencies of the firm’s outsourced operating model, which includes an outsourced NOC.

The strong, flexible model employed by Aqua Comms is based on aggressive automation, that allows customers to maintain control of their own networks and thus provide financial and operational efficiencies. Structured with a management tier of twenty leading professionals across all the crucial functions of a complete business including Sales, Engineering, Legal, Finance, Marketing, HR and more, the Aqua Comms model allows the freedom and agility to maintain superior standards on budget and on time.

This unique model has created a company culture that attracts some of the best talent in the world, with a management team that is made up of some of the industry’s Top 100 Influential People. The experience of the team has enabled the creation of a relatively flat hierarchical structure which operates with transparency throughout the organisation, facilitating a positive, progressive working environment that engages on all levels and ignites a shared passion for the promising future that lies ahead. Trust and transparency are key mantras of the organisation: Trust the team with the information, receive trust back through being open and transparent. This has enhanced the seamlessness and agility of Aqua Comms’ operations across the Atlantic – attributes that have rarely been so valuable as they are in the current climates of the global pandemic.

Consequently, Aqua Comms has not only been able to maintain its existing standards but improve on them with the delivery of new services at this crucial time. Thanks to the minimal impact on its supply chain, the Aqua Comms network design remains robust, with restored terrestrial backhauls supporting the secure subsea cables. With the Internet taking on a more prevalent role in communications both professionally and personally than ever before, the networks that power this technology are crucial. The exceptional work of Aqua Comms and the carriers it supports is proving invaluable in ensuring the world is able to stay operational and connected in a time when we need it most.

For further information, please contact Andrea Forder at www.aquacomms.com