Data Center POST Interview With Nigel Bayliff, CEO of Aqua Comms DAC

By Contributing Editor, Kathy Xu

Nigel Bayliff has been Chief Executive Officer of Aqua Comms DAC since October 2016. He has more than 25 years of experience in senior executive, technical and operational roles across the global telecom industry, including CEO of Huawei Marine Network. At FLAG, where Nigel served as an officer and deputy chairman for a number of group companies, he was responsible for the construction and operation of the FLAG Global Network, which encompasses 65,000 km of submarine cable systems, providing connectivity services to 40 countries. In September 2017, he was appointed as a non-exec Director of Board at Deep Blue Cable where he will advise on the deployment of the company’s pan-Caribbean subsea network, acting in an advisory capacity with respect to project governance.

Data Center POST recently spoke with Nigel about Aqua Comms’ immediate plans to pursue a new subsea cable build, the evolution and current state of the subsea cable sector, and the company’s attendance at International Telecoms Week 2018, taking place May 6-9 in Chicago.

Data Center POST, Kathy Xu (DCP-KX) Question: Aqua Comms recently made headlines when it announced its investment in the HAVFRUE subsea cable. Can you tell us about it?

Aqua Comms, Nigel Bayliff (AC-NB) Answer: Yes, Aqua Comms recently joined the HAVFRUE consortium, which will own and operate a new subsea cable system connecting New Jersey to Ireland and Denmark, with connectivity options to Norway. Aqua Comms will market and sell capacity services and raw spectrum on its portion of the HAVFRUE cable system under the brand name America Europe Connect-2 as complementary to its existing transatlantic cable, America Europe Connect-1. We call it the “North Atlantic Bridge.” The HAVFRUE system is the first new undersea cable spanning the North Atlantic to connect mainland Northern Europe to the U.S. in nearly two decades. Route survey operations have begun, and the projected Ready-for-Service date is Q4 2019.

DCP-KX Q: How has the subsea market evolved over the past two decades and what position does Aqua Comms take in the current landscape?

AC-NB A: Aqua Comms is a carrier’s carrier and sell, in effect, infrastructure as a service. Our investors are primarily infrastructure-grade and are looking for a long-term return on the capital deployed. This is very different world from 1999, when it was mostly private equity making a play on what might happen in the high-tech market.

DCP-KX Q: How would you characterize your customer base and the current demand for your services?

AC-NB A: At Aqua Comms, the demand is roughly doubling every two years. There is a huge data flow now, many orders of magnitude bigger than they were 20-plus years ago. We sell big, high-capacity pipes between major interconnections sites on either side of the Atlantic to companies who go out into the metro areas and other communities and supply consumers and enterprises with telecoms services.

DCP-KX Q: How has subsea cable technology changed and what effect have these technical advances had on the marketplace?

AC-NB A: Cables built in the early 2000s are approximately four terabits (Tbs) per fibre pair. Technology has changed dramatically and Aqua Comms’ new cable can provide at least 24 Tbs per fibre pair at a lower operating cost. The challenge is to cope with the massive growth of capacity requirements while not increasing your costs at the same rate as the capacity growth, because the price is in decline.

DCP-KX Q: What technologies do you see changing and shaping the subsea cable industry and how?

AC-NB A: Services that we anticipate will drive connectivity will be interpersonal, dynamic, high-data services such as video calling. Video, WhatsApp, or posting a Facebook Live video uses significantly more capacity. Other trends that we are looking out for especially are Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Virtual Reality (AVR). If you take video as being a unit of one, VR is approximately 6.7 times the data rate. So, if you then go to AVR, you have another 10 times the data rate.

DCP-KX Q: Why is ITW such an important industry event for your company?  

AC-NB A: ITW provides an excellent platform at which to meet existing and prospective customers and partners while continuing to take the pulse of the global telecom industry.

DCP-KX: Thank you for your time today, Nigel. Readers seeking more information about Aqua Comms can visit or email Interested in meeting with the Aqua Comms team at ITW? If so, please click here.