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Shortage of cable-laying ships changes plans for subsea cable

7/2/2022 - In 2018, plans were announced for a new fiber-optic cable system from Montréal to Toronto that would include a submarine segment through Lake Ontario between Kingston and downtown Toronto. Per a report at www.subtelforum.com, those plans changed. Below are excerpts from that article about why that happened.

Announced in 2018 as a venture between Metro Optic and Crosslake Fibre along with Utilities Kingston, the Maple Leaf Fibre cable system was to have a terrestrial segment between Montréal, Ottawa, and Kingston, and a submarine segment through Lake Ontario between Kingston and downtown Toronto.

Per a report in Capacity, However, a shortage of cable-laying vessels has led to a change of plans, and now the entire cable system will be terrestrial, running from Toronto via Kingston to Montréal. Crosslake CCO Fergus Innes explained, “Vessel availability [is] one of the reasons we have pivoted from a subsea design to a full terrestrial build on our Maple Leaf Fibre project.”

Earlier this year, the companies were still planning to install the Toronto-Kingston section of the Maple Leaf Fibre on the bed of Lake Ontario. In 2019, Crosslake Fibre laid a cable between Toronto and New York. The cable ship C.S. IT Intrepid had to sail through St. Lawrence Seaway and a series of locks from the Atlantic Ocean to the lake.

The cable lands at Equiix TR2 at 45 Parliament Street and the 151 Front Street West carrier hotel in Toronto, running to Equinix NY4 in Secaucus, New Jersey with an interconnect in Buffalo, New York. It is currently the only cable running under Lake Ontario, and no other cables run under any of the other Great Lakes.

According to the ISCPC, there are around 60 cable ships in the world. According to SubTel Forum’s 2021/2022 Annual Industry Report, no new-build cable ships were delivered between 2004 and 2010 after a glut of investment around the turn of the millennium. Only five ships were delivered between 2011 and 2020.

The report notes that new ships aren’t being added at the same rate older ships are being retired. Only eight ships are younger than 18, with most between 20 and 30 years old. 19 are over 30 years old, and one is over 50.

Read 465 times Last modified on July 2, 2022