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USA sinks Atlantic cable plan over Huawei worries

Huawei not wanted on the voyage

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The planned trans-Atlantic Hibernia Networks cable project is in limbo due to American concerns at the involvement of Chinese government-linked vendor Huawei.

According to the paywalled Capacity magazine, Project Express – which was to run between New York and London, serving the world of high-frequency trading with sub-60 ms latency – is on hold because large US providers said using the cable would lose them US federal government contracts.

Huawei Marine has already hit back at the claims, saying it remains in “close discussion” with Hibernia. Since it has been building the 4,600-km four-pair repeatered fibre since January 2012, The Register can easily imagine “close discussions” will quickly land in the laps of lawyers if the situation isn’t resolved.

Hibernia has told Fierce Telecom the American concerns would halt the build-out of the cable until at least Q4 of 2014. The cable is already running behind its original build schedule, announced in 2010, under which it should have gone into service at the end of 2012.

The cable will now be delayed for years in any case: while Alcatel-Lucent and TE SubCom have both made offers to Hibernia, a board decision on the project’s future won’t be made until March 2013.

Putting the contract on hold will also raise a funding issue for Hibernia, since Huawei Marine was providing vendor finance for the project.

It must be merely a thundering and fortunate coincidence that Huawei Marine has another 4,600 km, four-pair cable build under contract: the ASSC-1 project planned to run from Perth (Australia) to Singapore. Telstra was named as a foundation customer for the cable in January. ®

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