AMSC’s former largest customer, China’s Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. (Sinovel) has agreed to pay it $57.5 million in two installments to settle a dispute over stealing its technology. It was also fined $1.5 million by a federal judge on July 9, concluding a key stage in a long-fought case of IT theft that stems back as far as 2011.
The story of what happened to AMSC, formerly known as American Superconductor Inc., is staggering in scope. While it made high-temp superconductor wire, AMSC’s biggest focus was its proprietary technology to control wind turbines. The company had a $16 million profit for fiscal 2010, at which time it had some 700 employees and was on an international growth path. In early 2011, its stock traded as high as $260 a share, but later that year, Sinovel, its largest customer, refused to accept a shipment. It was later shown at trial that Sinovel, through an AMSC employee, had stolen its technology. The subsequent losses were later said to be more than $800 million.
The company cut its workforce in 2011 by 150 people, a 30% reduction, with further cuts made over the following years. A lengthy and expensive international legal battle was fought by AMSC in Chinese courts, and in 2013, the Justice Department announced charges against Sinovel. In the last 12 months, AMSC’s stock price dropped to below $3 a share, but bolstered by sales of its collective energy solutions products—and a key court victory on Jan. 24, 2018, where a U.S. jury found in favor of AMSC—and hopes of a significant settlement by Sinovel, it had risen to as much as $8 a share, only to fall under $6 a share when news of the settlement and the judge’s sentence was made on July 9.
AMSC President and CEO Daniel P. McGahn, who following the Jan. 24 jury finding declared that the outcome was “a victory for the rule of law,” said that the resolution it had reached with Sinovel prior to the sentencing was an important step. “We valued the past cooperation between Sinovel and AMSC which was heralded as the example of Sino-U.S. cooperation in the new energy area. Through Sinovel’s and AMSC’s joint efforts, we have signed a settlement agreement to resolve the previous disputes in a constructive manner that we believe will enable us to move on with our respective businesses. This closes a challenging chapter for AMSC.”.
NEC Corporation has signed an agreement with a coalition of marque businesses to build a nearly 16,000-km-long optical submarine cable.
A press release said that NEC was selected by The Bay to Bay Express Cable System (BtoBE) coalition composed of China Mobile International, Facebook and Amazon Web Services. Its mandate is to build a high- performance submarine cable connecting Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States. “NEC is honored to be selected by the BtoBE consortium as the turnkey system supplier for this world record-breaking optical fiber submarine cable system that covers the longest distance without regeneration,” it said.
The BtoBE system, scheduled for completion by the fourth quarter of 2020, will feature “multiple pairs of optical fibre that enable high-capacity transmission of data across the Pacific Ocean with round-trip latency of less than 130 milliseconds.” It added that the BtoBE “will further enhance and contribute to the much-needed expansion of communications networks between the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area, San Francisco Bay Area and Singapore.”
The cable will be built with the most advanced optical submarine transmission equipment, thereby improving network redundancy, flexibility and ensuring highly reliable communications, the release said. The BtoBE, landing at three locations spanning across the Pacific Ocean, is designed so that once completed, it can carry at least 18Tbs of capacity per fiber pair, said Toru Kawauchi, general manager of the Submarine Network Division at NEC Corporation. “The BtoBE will provide seamless connectivity and network diversity ... and complement other Asia-Pacific submarine cables, among others.”
In 2017, TE SubCom was awarded the South Pacific Marine Maintenance Agreement (SPMMA), a five-year agreement between it and 15 regional cable operators, a press release said. The new depot, to be owned by TE SubCom, will help support and maintain more than 51,000 km of telecom and power cable systems in the area, as well as support regional installation activities. The SPMMA area covers the South Pacific region from Singapore in the west to Tahiti in the east and from the southernmost point of New Zealand to Hawaii in the north.
With its focus literally in "the cloud," Google announced its role in three subsea cables projects: Curie, a private cable connecting Chile to Los Angeles; Havfrue, a consortium cable connecting the United States to Denmark and Ireland; and the Hong Kong-Guam Cable system (HK-G), a consortium cable interconnecting major subsea communication hubs in Asia.
Google, which notes that it has invested $30 billion in infrastructure the last three years as it continues to expand the regions it serves, reports that it is part of 11 cable projects that are either planned or under construction.
With Curie, named after scientist Marie Curie, Google will become the first major non-telecom company to build a private intercontinental cable. It will serve Google users across Latin America. The four fiber-pair network to be supplied by TE SubCom will span over 10,000 km, linking Los Angeles to Valparaiso, Chile, per a report at Teleography.com. It will also include a branching unit for future connectivity to Panama."
TE SubCom, a business of TE Connectivity, Ltd., will also be the supplier for the Havfrue cable project, one of the other two cable systems. Other participants include Aqua Comms, Bulk Infrastructure, Facebook, and others. The undersea cable network between the U.S. and Northern Europe would be ready for service in the last quarter of 2019. It will offer a cross-sectional cable capacity of 108 Tbps, scalable to higher capacities via future generation Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE) technology. The cable will run from New Jersey to the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark. A branch will add connectivity to County Mayo, Ireland, and optional branches to Northern and Southern Norway can also be added.
At its website, Aqua Comms reported that the Havfrue subsea cable will be the first new undersea cable in nearly two decades to traverse the North Atlantic to connect mainland Northern Europe to the U.S. The company said that it would serve as system operator. It plans to market its portion of the Hafvrue submarine cable as America Europe Connect-2 (AEC-2); it operates America Europe Connect-1 (AEC-1, also known as AEConnect). Route survey operations for the system have begun.
The second consortium venture, HK-G, saw construction begin last April of the 3,900-km undersea cable from NEC Corporation. It will feature 100 Gbps optical transmission capabilities, and have a design capacity of more than 48 Tbps. It is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019. HK-G will land in Tseung Kwan O (TKO) in Hong Kong and in Piti, Guam, at the Teleguam Holdings LLC (GTA) cable landing station, the same facility which being used for SEA-US.