Orange announces landing of new transatlantic submarine cable in France

Having begun the year outlining plans to take a leading role in the US-to-Europe connectivity route, Orange has announced that it has landed the Amitie submarine telecommunications cable on a beach in the commune of Le Porge, near Bordeaux, France.

Orange is a partner in this 6,800km state-of-the-art cable project, which will connect the US state of Massachusetts, Le Porge and Bude in the UK. Orange said it will benefit from two pairs of fibre-optic cables as part of the new network system, offering capacity up to 23Tbps each.

As the company responsible for the French part of the cable, the landing provider, Orange is in charge of operating and maintaining the system’s landing station. The French operator will supply the system’s links on land, starting from its station near Bordeaux, then Paris and Lyon, and it will link up to the rest of Europe thanks to a terrestrial network employing what it says is “cutting-edge” optical networking technology. Commissioning is scheduled for early 2022.

“With this new agreement, we are yet again demonstrating our skills and expertise in transatlantic submarine cables,” said Jean-Luc Vuillemin, head of international networks and services at Orange. “Against the backdrop of a boom in international traffic, the arrival of these increasingly efficient cutting-edge submarine cables, and in view of the strategic and national sovereignty issues linked to submarine cables, Orange must continue to play a leading role in the global market and develop infrastructure to connect France to other continents.”

Orange believes that thanks to the Amitie cable, it can play a leading role in the transatlantic market, offering a totally secure end-to-end connection between Europe and the US. The fibre-optic technology is provided by two high-speed cables: Amitie, plus the Dunant system, which was recently commissioned in Vendée.

As a result, Orange is confident it will be able to offer a connection solution between France and the US to all its private customers, professionals, businesses and operators which is unique in performance and reliability. Orange calculates that, on average, the traffic between Europe and North America doubles every two years, and it has experienced an unprecedented increase in traffic during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Orange sees the Amitie cable as crucial to accommodate the future increase in traffic on different networks. It guarantees that the arrival of this state-of-the-art cable will offer full redundancy and that the cable is also designed to evolve at the same pace as future generations of optical transmission technologies. Orange says it will be able to maintain a high level of performance for at least the next 20 years.

The cable was finally connected after two initial attempts were aborted because of unfavourable weather, with better conditions allowing Orange to land the cable using a technical process, horizontal directional drilling, which is said to protect the environment but presents a huge technological challenge.

This essential project for Orange was implemented with a focus on the environment. The project’s design considered the nature of the sites involved – beaches, dunes and forests – and used technology to avoid impacting the ecosystem and local flora and fauna. Horizontal directional drilling was conducted at 20m beneath the beach and dunes. The route to the landing station was optimised to avoid impacting the forest, using existing paths and the edges of local roads.

Orange says the arrival of the cable represents an excellent opportunity for the landing region, which will become an international digital hub, allowing new datacentres to be created to support the growth of the local digital ecosystem. The telco says that thanks to the support of local partners, local authorities and state services, it was able to launch the project by combining agility and efficiency, and by reusing part of the existing infrastructure to minimise the work and limit the impact on local residents and the environment.

Fabienne Buccio, prefect of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and prefect of Gironde, said: “For the Amitie project led by Orange, decentralised state services joined forces in Gironde to coordinate public partners and private partners. This is a great example of public-private cooperation to create value and technological innovation that demonstrates our nation’s industrial capabilities. This project is part of a national policy to enhance the appeal of electronic communications cables. Despite the pandemic, the project was completed on time and paves the way for further cables along our coast.”

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