Monday, 18 October 2021

Adaptation and the last mile of submarine connectivity

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Friday 27 August 21

We spoke Gareth Loye, CEO of M&M Contractors, about his experience in working in the submarine industry and why a broad range of skills is key to meeting clients’ changing demands

Submarine cable systems support around 95% of the world’s international data traffic, but despite our huge reliance on these systems, the subsea industry remains widely unrecognised and underappreciated. But, as data demand soars and the world grows more digital, it is also an industry full of opportunity. In recent years we’ve seen a small group of specialist construction partners emerge and rise to the challenge of the subsea space, bringing with them a wealth of experience from projects across numerous industries…

Submarine cable systems support around 95% of the world’s international data traffic, but despite our huge reliance on these systems, the subsea industry remains widely unrecognised and underappreciated. But, as data demand soars and the world grows more digital, it is also an industry full of opportunity.

In recent years we’ve seen a small group of specialist construction partners emerge and rise to the challenge of the subsea space, bringing with them a wealth of experience from projects across numerous industries.

M&M Contractors, one of the most exciting new players in this space, specialises in building the terrestrial section of a submarine system, the so-called ‘last mile’, which can include everything from landing stations to the terrestrial network to data centres. For M&M CEO, Gareth Loye, the key to delivering this last mile effectively is leveraging skills from many different parts of the business.

“We have everything in-house that you’d expect from a telecoms company – splicing teams, testing, cabling, network building, ducting, etc. We also have the other side of our business which is electrical – our company is qualified to lay up to 132kV cable, which is more than enough for any submarine network. And our business also carries construction – we have high-class staff that are construction and civil engineering specialists,” he explained.

“Wrap that all together and we can provide clients with a partner of choice for submarine terrestrial network builds.”

You can watch our complete interview from the link above

There is something of a misconception that the submarine cable industry is a slow-moving sector, perhaps because projects can take years to grow from concept to reality. But, in fact, the industry is always changing, with projects quick to shift in nature and scope based on developments behind the scenes. Often, these systems are just waiting for the final puzzle piece to fall into place.

“A lot of these jobs start very quickly, because the funding starts quickly, and they expect us to react,” explained Loye. “But also, these jobs evolve as the project evolves; perhaps an anchor client comes in, and then another, and so the terrestrial requirements change because the capacity is increased.” 

“It can be just a click of the fingers. The funding is right, the timing is right, the capacity and the anchor tenants just fall into place,” he said, highlighting that the company’s broad experience was key to reacting quickly, without hesitation.

“Ultimately, we work to meet the client’s needs as they change, as the project is being built,” said Loye.

Loye shared the origin story of a major submarine project, explaining how a simple chat in a London hotel soon found him standing on a cliff in Canada eight weeks later, looking out over the Atlantic, discussing a potential build with a client.

“We designed, planned, and built a monster of a project. We built a terrestrial network through historical towns, fields, under rail…We were delivering upwards of 2,000m per week of terrestrial network, just to hit the time scales! But ultimately we succeeded, and it became an award winning project,” he said. “It’s just magnificent to be part of these projects that our clients have and to be part of their vision.”

 

If you want to hear more from Gareth and M&M Contractors, he’ll be speaking on an expert panel exploring business models and partnerships for new submarine cable builds at this year’s Submarine Networks EMEA conference. Check out the agenda and find out more here!

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