Plain sailing for Islalink’s new IONIAN cable


It’s been a busy few months for the Islalink team with the completion of the IONIAN cable taking place earlier this year. Esther Garcès, CEO of Islalink will be speaking about the launch at Submarine Networks EMEA 2023 later this month. Total Telecom caught up with Esther this week to find out more about the project.

The IONIAN cable has been in operation since March 2023; how did the launch go?

Indeed, IONIAN reached RFS (‘ready for service’) at the end of March 2023. We already have customers flowing their traffic through our system.

It has been a wonderful journey, started with the initial inception of the project and the design of the route, followed by carefully selecting our business associates and then finally delivering the project. A few weeks prior to RFS, we were happy to witness the landings of the cable with our team, partners and friends: first in Crotone (Italy) and then in Preveza (Greece). Following that, we have integrated the submarine system with the terrestrial backbones to have a single end to end system connecting the POP’s of Milan, Rome, Athens and Thessaloniki. We are proud to say that IONIAN is the most advanced, state-of-the-art transmission system between Italy and Greece.

A few weeks ago (25th April), we officially inaugurated the system in Athens with our business partners, customers and authorities.

Can you tell us more about the cable?

This new unrepeated submarine cable is a 330Km single stretch and consists of 24 fiber pairs. The cable is mostly laid (75%) on the seabed (deep waters – more than 1.000 meters of depth) to avoid man-made hazards such as fishing and anchoring. The route of the cable has been determined in such way so that it is totally diverse from existing transmission systems in the Adriatic and in the Mediterranean Sea.

On top of that, we have in place redundant terrestrial routes connecting Milan, Rome, Athens, and Thessaloniki.

What were your key learnings and takeaways from the deployment process?

Our in-house engineering team has a successful and long-standing track record in the development and construction of submarine systems. This was complemented by collaboration with trusted local partners working in the most specialised areas of subcontracting, such as permitting, environmental assessment and civil engineering.

With this, we have ensured a smooth transition process from desktop study and analysis of the project, up to its completion.

Why did you choose this route and landing stations for the project?

This is the most critical decision to be made when launching a new submarine cable project. Making this decision is very important to the success of a new system, as those parameters cannot be changed in the future. Our decision is based on the following principles:

Commercial potential – Italy-Greece is typically an underserved route. Now, there are many investments from OTTs, hyperscalers and data centre providers being announced in Greece.
Diversity from existing routes – IONIAN is totally diverse from existing systems.
Security and reliability – IONIAN is mostly laid through deep waters, making the whole system robust.

What do the next 12 months look like for Islalink?

We like to keep ourselves busy, so yes, we are definitely on the outlook for more investments. Obviously, we also want to further develop IONIAN as a platform for growth and we are working to enable new PoPs in Greece and in Italy to address our customer’s needs and better reach the market. We also are exploring the possibility to further extend IONIAN to neighbouring countries.

What are you looking forward to at Submarine Networks EMEA 2023?

Submarine Networks EMEA is the leading annual subsea connectivity event in the region. We have been participating in this event since it started, and have seen how it has managed to attract the community of professionals from the submarine sector. We are looking forward to discussing IONIAN with and identify future projects.

Esther will be presenting on the IONIAN cable at Submarine Networks EMEA 2023 on 31st May. To join Esther and 800 senior decision makers from the global submarine cable market, head to the event website and book your ticket.

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