About 20 people participated in the roundtable on “SMART Cables” hosted by José Barros at Submarine Networks EMEA 2020. Jose is External Affairs Director at the Portuguese Regulatory Authority, ANACOMThe participants came mainly from Consultancy, Suppliers, Cable Owners/Entrepreneurs, Operators and Installation & Maintenance service providers. One Research Organization and one Regulator attended too.

The session took about 45 minutes and begun by 12h (final 10 minutes were reserved to fill in a questionnaire).

A short introduction about JTF SMART Cables was made explaining what SMART Cables are. Next, it was stated that Portugal is willing to have the future CAM Ring (Submarine Cable interconnecting Continent, Azores and Madeira) as a SMART Cable and a firm decision on this will be taken soon.

Two main issues were identified for discussion. In short, the following was addressed:

1.   Suppliers will have to be ready to respond to SMART Cables specifications on telecom cables.

From the suppliers, the idea was given that they would be available to respond to the requirements (the technology is available, but it needs to be packed). However, it was noted that there will be a need to develop integrated solutions which are not yet available. Concerns were also expressed about a possible lack of definition of what is being requested, because there is no longer any question of the exclusive use of a submarine cable for seismic detection, since the current intention is to use a telecom cable with additional detection services.

It was recognized that collaboration between suppliers is essential since clear specifications are required when ordering SMART submarine cables. General standards or specifications should be convenient, including sensors. Reliability and redundancy also have to be specified in a realistic way.

A development partnership should be established.

Being JTF SMART Cables the ideal forum for that kind of discussions, attention was drawn to the convenience of joining the JTF in order to deepen the discussions.

2.   “Operators, Owners, Cable Clients…” will have to have absolutely guarantee that seismic and environmental detection services will in no way jeopardize commercial or operational telecom traffic.

The general idea was that is essential to obtain this kind of guarantee since without this, it will be impossible to have a telecommunications submarine cable available to provide additional non-telecommunication services, such as seismic and environmental detection.

In this sense, it was highlighted that there is a need to ensure that:

·       traffic associated with seismic and environmental detection could never interfere with telecommunications traffic,

·       and any activity related to the operation and maintenance of seismic and environmental detections could only be carried out with the express authorization of the cable owner,


All of this needs to be understood by system users and mandatorily reflected in contracts, C&MA included.

A kind of framework needs to be clarified and it should be clear “who is responsible for what”.

It is likely that dedicated housing is a good solution to secure telecom traffic. It was also mentioned that a possible delay on the implementation of new systems can be introduced by SMART needs.

A concern was also raised about how much do SMART capabilities cost, who is going to pay for that, not to mention the need for funding.

Finally, it was suggested that there should be a kind of a “white paper” convening all aspects associated with SMART Cables.


After the general discussion of the above subjects, a questionnaire was delivered and we got a dozen completed questionnaires, which will be sent to JTF in due course to be analyzed. The delivered questionnaire is attached to this report.

For more information on what was discussed during the roundtable, you can contact the Chairman of JTF SMART CABLES, Prof. Bruce Howe.