Crosslake Fibre, an operator and developer of subsea cables in both Western Europe and North America, has had an exciting 12 months with more in the pipeline for 2020. Total Telecom caught up with CEO, Mike Cunningham ahead of his speaking slot at Submarine Networks EMEA 2020, to find out more about Crosslake Fibre’s upcoming projects and to hear Mike’s perspectives on current trends in the industry.

What would you say have been the biggest developments in the global subsea market in the past year?
The introduction of a higher fibre count repeatered cable system is a big development for the industry.  Repeatered systems have had a maximum of 8 fibre pairs for decades, and now we are seeing technological developments that are doubling the number of pairs, with higher counts potentially coming.  The reliability and longevity of subsea repeaters is key to a subsea system and suppliers have been rightly loathed to make substantial changes to components that exhibit such reliability.  The technological advancement of repeatered systems will have a very material impact on the global subsea market as the cost of a fibre system on a per fibre pair basis will decrease dramatically and the amount of potential capacity throughput will increase dramatically.  The result is a vastly different per bit cost structure, arguably fewer cables are required on certain routes, and an as yet-to-be determined impact on global subsea markets and commercial structures.

At the event, you’ll be giving a News in Brief update on the CrossChannel cable project. Can you tell us more about this project?
The CrossChannel Fibre project is a new high-count cable being developed to provide connectivity between Slough(London) and Paris.  The system is a non-repeatered system and will have 96 fibre pairs that will traverse the English Channel.  The project is being developed by Crosslake Fibre using the same model; a disaggregated approach to development, supply and construction to utilize the best resources possible.  The business model is very similar to Crosslake’s as well in developing a new long-haul route between two large markets that is physically diverse and provides new fibre.
What can we expect to see from Crosslake Fibre in the upcoming months?
The upcoming months will continue much of what Crosslake has accomplished over the last year.  We are growing as an operating company now that the Lake Ontario system is in service.  We continue to open new PoPs on the route and build extensions off of the route.  At the same time, our roots as a submarine developer are a strong as ever as we move to bring the CrossChannel Fibre project to fruition and continue to develop the project pipeline.
What would you say is the biggest challenge that cable operators are facing in 2020?
Many of the challenges that cable operators face in 2020 are the same traditional challenges that they have faced for years: evolving commercial models, price deflation, cable cuts, etc…  One notable change has been from governments who are becoming more aware to subsea cable development.  In many ways this is a good thing, however when some governments hear about the industry and increasingly see web-scalers as developers, they see dollar signs.  Instead of trying to help facilitate the development of this critical piece of Internet infrastructure, they put up economic roadblocks which serve to increase the cost of this critical infrastructure.  Some forward-thinking governments understand the advantage of this infrastructure and how much of a catalyst it is for additional development and try to lay the foundation to attract development.  Cable operators need to continue to educate and encourage this understanding and espouse the benefits of subsea cables so that this challenge doesn’t become the norm.
Why is an event such as Submarine Networks EMEA important for you and the wider industry?
For Crosslake it is a great event to meet with all the suppliers in the industry, as well as many of our customers and peers.  Given our disaggregated model of development, it can be difficult if not impossible to meet with the market of suppliers; Submarine Networks EMEA really has everyone that we need to talk to.  It is also a great forum to continue educate the world about our industry.  Despite subsea cables having existed for over 150years, many people still think that satellites carry most Internet traffic.  There are very few bad reasons, while many good ones, to the world knowing more about the importance of the submarine cable industry to the Internet and the world economy. 
Submarine Networks EMEA 2020 
Mike Cunningham, CEO of Crosslake Fibre will be giving a project update on the "CrossChannel Fibre" Cable at Submarine Networks EMEA 2020. The event will be taking place at the Business Design Centre in London on 18th and 19th February. Head over to the event website to keep up to date with the conference.