Additionally, he is looking to replicate the same approach in other markets while continuing to grow his network. By its first anniversary in September, Exa expects to have committed €340 million in capex.
878 km long, the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP) transports natural gas from the Caspian region to Europe via Greece, Albania and Italy. Like other utility providers, TAP AG has deployed thousands of miles of fiber across its assets and has been an independent transmission system operator since late 2020.
“There are many utility companies, whether gas pipelines, oil pipelines, sometimes even highways, where existing fiber assets are underutilized,” said Martijn Blanken, CEO of Exa. Infrastructure.
“Sometimes the utility operator uses it for telemetry purposes, but other than that, he doesn’t use it, and it’s a good opportunity for him to monetize his asset that’s already there,” he adds.
Following a competitive bidding process, the resulting joint venture will be 60% owned by Exa Infrastructure and 40% by TAP, with employees from both companies seconded as needed.
“What we unveiled today is a vital part of a new digital highway that connects Eastern and Western Europe along a trade axis that dates back centuries,” Blanken added, saying organizations with “the greatest amount of network traffic” have been waiting for such a fiber route for years.
“We’re definitely looking at doing it more often and there’s a couple of conversations going on right now. Whether it materializes or not, I can’t comment on that, but it could happen just about anywhere. Anywhere. we have an existing infrastructure network, we are open to this construction,” he added.
The pipeline connects to the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline at the Greek-Turkish border, crosses northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea before landing in southern Italy to connect to the Italian natural gas network. Exa will share access to TAP’s fiber optic facilities, which are separate from TAP’s gas business, along its entire length. Exa nd TAP expects to obtain all required authorizations and the new system is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2023.
The ‘behind the scenes’ JV is ‘purely an extension of the Exa network,’ Blanken said Ability and will add a direct link from Marseille to Istanbul to Exa’s own network infrastructure, with branches connecting to Athens, Sofia and Tirana. The new route will feature 36 pairs of state-of-the-art, high-capacity G652D fiber optics.
However, Exa’s customers “are not operationally exposed to the JV”. “For all intents and purposes, this is an extension of the Exa network…and TAP will also receive monetary returns,” Blanked added.
Utilities and Telecoms
In the UK, a minister for culture has been ridiculed for suggesting that laying fibers inside water pipes could speed up national roll-out. However, there are utility companies around the world that own fiber assets or integrate power and switches and deployment level.
For example, in India, Adani Group owns both power and fiber companies, which run their cables over the same transmission lines. He now builds data centers with EdgeConneX.
“First, it’s much more economical to use an existing asset, second, time to market, and third, the added benefit of having fiber along a pipeline is that the operational risks are significantly lower compared to a normal route,” Blanken says of the benefits.
“There will never be an excavator digging trenches next to a gas line and many of the breaks and failures you see in fiber networks are caused by civil engineering works and human error. chances of this happening next to a gas pipeline are very slim.”
The news comes as Exa confirmed today that its first six months of operation has seen it invest €190 million, with further capital expenditure of up to €150 million to be incurred ahead of its first anniversary in September for new routes and upgrades in the northern Balkans, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, as well as other projects in southern Italy and the Iberian Peninsula.
In addition to this work, Exa’s network construction and optimization program includes several projects, primarily focused on routes in the Mediterranean region of Southern and Eastern Europe. These include:
A 640 km cable between London and Amsterdam, including a new cable crossing the North Sea. Further investments will upgrade infrastructure in Belgium and Germany to “create the shortest and most modern route between London and Frankfurt”.
A new 1,000 km cable between Paris and Marseille to meet the demand created by submarine landings. This includes creating a new route to Marseille to provide triple diversity in “large data centers and clusters of cable landing stations”.
New route upgrades to the latest Corning Ultra G.652D specification fiber between high-traffic data center clusters in Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Brussels.
Development of two CLS installations and the associated link network
comprising 800 km of new network and 1,600 km of improved roads to support new submarine cables expected to be built from Italy over the next three years
Expansion into 30 more carrier-neutral data centers and cable landing stations across Europe and Canada, with more planned for 2023.
Two enhancements to a low-latency global product linking major financial exchanges around the world, centered in London and Johannesburg.
In addition, there are more than 700 km of investment in long-distance and metropolitan cables on the Iberian Peninsula
“We aspire to connect the overwhelming majority of IT workloads in Europe. Our main infrastructure need is therefore to connect the new data centers and cable landing station clusters. Our network extensions will go where they are built,” Blanken said.