Ocean Specialists Inc. (OSI) attended Submarine Networks World 2021 from 29 – 30 September and had the opportunity to moderate an enlightening panel discussion. Jose Troncoso, Project Manager at OSI, led the session in which expert panelists attempted to examine whether the consortium approach to subsea cable system construction is a sustainable model in an era of heightened urgency.
The panel was composed of Praveen Agarwal, SVP and Business Head, Airtel Business, Hasan Zainal, Head of International Capacity at Batelco, Farhan Mohamed Bouh, Strategy Lead at Djibouti Telecom, Luiz Fuschini, CEO at FPT, and Hiromitsu Todokoro, Senior Advisor for Submarine Cables at KDDI.
This diverse group of industry leaders provided a well-rounded debate about the future viability of the consortium structure given the exploding demand for bandwidth across the globe and the rising dominance of content providers in this space. The general view was that consortiums will get smaller: gone are the days of SeaMeWe type consortiums with 15 to 20 consortium members. Even though the panelists accepted the fact that the OTTs will continue to grow their presence in subsea networks, opinions from the group ranged from consortium members being reduced to a landing party and last mile connectivity, to consortium members remaining an active part of the subsea network, to assist with in-country permits, not only for the installation but also repairs.
Even though 2021’s event was held virtually, it delivered the same fascinating subsea insights and presentations as always. By all accounts, there is no shortage of projects underway but there are certainly some new challenges to navigate relating to the questions of security, digital sovereignty, cabotage, cybersecurity and permitting.
Across the board, the panel discussions were insightful, in-depth and, in some cases, controversial. The big questions that exist for the industry center around route diversity, resilience, data center impacts, interconnection, wholesale pricing, deep-sea mining and 5G developments. Although COVID-19 continues to be in our midst, data usage continues to grow—although not at the significant rate of 40% seen during the early months of the pandemic. Companies are starting to see a far more settled future with a steady 20% growth rate as more subscribers use broadband services—both fixed and wireless—to add education, gaming, healthcare, AI and so-called “smart city” applications to the cloud.
OSI would like to thank Terrapinn for organizing and managing this informative virtual event, and we look forward to participating in this important subsea telecommunication conference, in person, in 2022.
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