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Alcatel-Lucent also makes branching units at its Greenwich facility.
This is the component that would be used to split off connectivity to a site that the cable passes by — for example, to Congo on the West Africa Cable System (WACS), which runs from the UK to South Africa, that Alcatel-Lucent is building.
This power feed equipment, produced at Alcatel-Lucent's Greenwich facility, is destined to be deployed where the WACS line comes ashore in Congo. This is the kit that powers the repeaters along a submarine cable.
Philippe Dumont is in charge of Alcatel-Lucent's submarine network business.
According to Dumont, the market for such deployments has remained "quite stable" over the last couple of recessionary years, which "came as quite a surprise" to Alcatel-Lucent.
Dumont said the biggest cabling project in the world right now is Africa, but the connectivity being deployed there will be quite different to that people in the UK are used to. "Access to the internet in Africa is mostly based on mobile," he said. "You will not see DSL, but you will see mobile broadband through smartphones and USB dongles."
The biggest part of the traffic in such a deployment will come from consumers, followed by enterprise customers such as banks who have been somewhat cut off from the world's internet infrastructure until now.
A big cable deployment can be worth around half a billion dollars, so telecoms operators tend to invest in such projects through consortia, rather than on their own. According to Dumont, the competition between consortium members will drive down prices for end-users.
Dumont said he expects the big African deployment to wind down around 2012 for the cable part, after which it a second wave of transmission backhaul will be rolled out.
"We think Asia will be next — there is [capacity] but not so many connection points," Dumont said. "China has a lot of needs, as do small countries like Vietnam. The west of Australia also has very little connectivity."