Alcatel to begin construction of the longest submarine cable project in the Mediterranean

According to recent news, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Elettra Tlc, Medusa, and Orange announced the entry into force of the construction contract for the Medusa submarine cable system.

This massive project will facilitate connectivity throughout the Mediterranean

Announcement of the entry into force of the contract for the construction of the Medusa submarine cable system

About the Mediterranean submarine cable construction area

The Mediterranean Sea is a stretch of sea between the continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

It is surrounded by the European continent to the north, the African continent to the south, and the Asian continent to the east. And is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar to the west.

The total length from east to west is about 4,000 km, and the widest point from north to south is about 1,800 km, covering an area of about 2,512,000 square kilometers, making it the largest inland sea in the world.

The countries along the coast are France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Spain, Malta, Turkey, etc. The coastal cities are Marseille, Rome, Barcelona, Istanbul, Cairo, Valletta, etc.

Medusa, the Longest Subsea Cable in the Mediterranean

First announced in January 2022, the Medusa submarine fiber optic cable is 8,700 km long.

It consists of 24 fiber pairs of 20 Tbs each, with a total system capacity of 480 Tbps.

It lands at underground sea cable landing stations in several Mediterranean countries.

These include the Western European countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus. And the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt, with a total of 16 submarine cable landing stations.

The Medusa submarine cable is expected to be ready to serve the Western and Eastern Mediterranean regions in the third quarter of 2024 and the first quarter of 2025, respectively.

Subsequently, in October of the same year, AFR-IX launched a new submarine landing station in Barcelona, Spain. Which will serve as the landing point for the Medusa submarine cable in Spain, as well as the landing point for Meta’s 2Africa submarine cable.

The Design of the Medusa Cable

The Medusa submarine cable will create key connections between Morocco, Portugal, Spain, France, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt.

The subsystem called Via Tunisia is part of the Medusa cable that connects France and Tunisia.

Co-financed by the European Union under the Connecting European Facilities (CEF) program, Orange has announced this.

When completed, Medusa will span a staggering distance of over 8,700 km. Making it the new longest cable in the Mediterranean and providing enhanced north-south and east-west connectivity.

The work has been awarded to industry leaders ASN and Elettra Tlc.

Global Undersea Cable Status

Global Underwater Cable Operations Scale to 452

Since the completion of the first undersea communication cable construction in 1988. The number of submarine cable construction worldwide has shown a year-on-year upward trend.

As of August 2022, the scale of global submarine cables in operation reached 452, with three new ones in 2022.

Five Dense Areas of the Global Submarine Cable

According to Tele Geography statistics, there are five dense areas of submarine power cable landing sites around the world.

These are the U.S. East Coast region, the European region, the Arabian Sea region, Southeast Asia, and China, Japan, and Korea region.

In the European region, Southeast Asia, submarine cable laying is mainly for the inner sea laying. The other three regions’ submarine cable access is mainly for the four oceanic sea submarine cable access.

Mediterranean's largest project opens - Medusa Cable Project

The Advantages of Submarine Power Cable

Compared to land cables, submarine cables have two major advantages:

1 The laying of submarine cables does not require a trench or support with a bracket, so the cost is less, and the construction speed is faster.

2 Submarine communications cables are mostly used in certain tests of the seabed. Except for landing lots. Which avoids damage from natural environments such as wind and waves and interference from human production activities.

Therefore, submarine cables are relatively safe and stable, with strong anti-interference ability and good confidentiality.

The biggest disadvantage of submarine cables is the difficulty of construction, leading to very high maintenance costs as well.

About Submarine Cable Repair

In fact, since the day of birth, submarine communication has faced various threats and challenges. Once the submarine fiber optic cable or submarine cable is damaged, communication will be interrupted, and the impact caused is self-evident.

And speaking of disruption of submarine cables, of which in the 1970s and 1980s, they were extremely vulnerable to damage by fishing boats, anchors, and even shark bites.

Fortunately, with the relevant regulations and deepest undersea cable protection capabilities, these cases of damage to the cable began to significantly reduce.

When it comes to the repair of submarine fiber optic cable, its difficulty is even higher than the process of laying.

The shallow waters can be explored and simply repaired with the help of human beings. Trying to find the problem of less than 10 cm diameter undersea fiber optic cable from hundreds or even thousands of meters deep in the seabed is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Fortunately, with the development of location technology, this repair process is becoming more efficient.

The Medusa system is built on state-of-the-art 24-pair fiber-optic open cable technology to meet the growing demand for regional broadband, with a minimum capacity of 20Tb/s per fiber pair.

Elettra Tlc will be rapidly engaged in survey operations, while equipment manufacturing and installation are scheduled to span 2024 and 2025.

Orange to Provide Submarine Data Cable Landing Infrastructure

Orange will provide landing infrastructure in France, Tunisia, and Morocco.

By connecting North Africa and Southern Europe, as well as several Mediterranean islands and continents, including Sicily, Crete, and Cyprus.

The Medusa seabed cable system will create unprecedented opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and economic development.

It will also provide an effective bridge between the Mediterranean and Atlantic regions, facilitating communication and cooperation in all these areas.

Medusa is committed to bridging the digital divide, and this construction is an important step toward achieving that goal.

Medusa’s construction was funded by AFR-IX Telecom, Orange, and the European Union through a CEF (Connecting European Facilities) grant.

This collaboration underscores the commitment of industry leaders and government organizations to contribute to a more connected and prosperous future for the Mediterranean region.