Copper and Glass : Changing Alderney’s Landscape

When we think of the Internet we largely think in terms of clouds, generally conceptualizing and simplifying the jumble of switches, routers and cable systems. But what is this cloud made of?  Glass – Cable & wireless alone have interests in over half a million kilometers of fibre optic cable running along the seabed’s of the Globe. The ‘cloud’ is the heart of the Internet and is almost exclusively the domain of international communications companies and Telco’s.

So how do we get from our homes and businesses into this cloud that envelops the Earth?  Copper – The Internet population, currently estimated at about one billion users or just over 15% of the global population, generally connects to this fluffy glass   cloud using a couple of thin strands of copper. Already we are seeing the envelope expanding on this technology that only a few years ago was deemed as dead, no longer are local providers planning to remove the copper access   network and replace it with fibre to the home user. It is not uncommon for broadband speeds in the UK to top eight Mbps enabling services such as video on demand and full interactive gaming experiences to be delivered to the masses. Elsewhere in the world, particularly in Asia, it is not uncommon for speeds to be at 50Mbps or above. Consumer technology is in place and gaining acceptance in bringing Internet content on to our TV screens.

      Cable & Wireless has recently announced that there will be slightly more glass added to the cloud over the coming months, with a new cable system affectionately dubbed HUGO  (High capacity undersea Guernsey Optic cable). The addition of an extra 470km of cable to the network may not sound much, increasing the total length of cables laid by about 0.1% but using state of the art Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) this relatively small piece of cable adds a huge amount of capacity to the cloud.

      DWDM effectively splits the laser light beam used to transmit data into multiple wavelengths, current technology allowing for up to 80 different wavelengths to be transmitted simultaneously. Think of the prism in the physics lab at school and the acronym R.O.Y.G.B.I.V but on a larger scale. Assuming that each of these 80 channels transmits data at 25Gbps the total capacity delivered of a single fibre will be 200 billion bits per second or 200Tera bps. To take this data over such large distances the glass used in the fibre must be of extreme purity : to put it into context if the water in the ocean was as pure as the glass used in fibre optic cables it would be possible to see the ocean floor many miles below this “glass sea ”.

      How does this dramatic increase in capacity affect clients with an Alderney gaming license?  As of July it has been possible to host operations in Guernsey under a license granted by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, the benefits of having two new international cable nodes for the jurisdiction are enormous.
      Guernsey already has a number of operators whose client base is largely non-European either focusing on an American or Asian client base with a mix of poker, sportsbook and casino operations.
      With the introductions of the HUGO infrastructure Guernsey will be even better placed as a gateway both to the States, throughout Europe and into Asia. Guernsey’s links will be peered with the major cities of the world alongside the likes of New York, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo. The island’s links will be peered with the major cities of the world giving businesses the potential to connect offices over a single end-to-end network. The two new international cable nodes that will be hosted in Guernsey will offer guaranteed and published latency figures to all major destinations backed up with comprehensive service level agreements.

      The £ 6.5m investment has already started with the full marine survey and landing of shore cables happening in March ‘o6, the main cable lay will happen through July, testing in September  and the full launch of services due for launch November 06. In parallel with the cable roll out new Next Generation Network infrastructure is being put in place and a new IP backbone is being designed to be commissioned in parallel with the existing IP core network infrastructure.
      To summarise HUGO will offer us :

  • State-of-the art technology enabling next generation services (MPLS, Metro Ethernet)
  • Higher bandwidth, service migration and better value for existing and new services
  • World class connectivity, security and quality


      JUSTIN BELLINGER is currently Head of Professional Services for Cable & Wireless in Guernsey focusing largely on technical design and pre-sale consultancy on high end data and hosting clients, with a particular emphasis on security. With a number of Global clients both in the offshore finance and gaming sectors, Justin has just finished a major consultancy contract in the Public sector concentrating on stragtic and security planning for the local government.

      Justin entered the telecoms arena in 1998 following a successful career in electronic engineering. Starting as an Internet Engineering department, ultimately becoming IP Engineering Manager. He has responsibility for the Channel Islands Internet Backbone Service, three hosting environments within the Bailiwick  an ISP and core IP network security.
      Justin is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional ( CISSP) and has spoken on security related topics for the British Computer Society and at Computer Associates CA World.