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Technical Note
On Pervasive Trenching Technologies to Bury Optical Fibre Networks at Sea
Mohamed Muneez, Ir. Vinesh Thiruchelvam and Lai Nai-Shyan

This paper is a comparative study of the two most pervasively used submarine trenching technologies: subsea ploughing and water-jetting, to bury optical fibre networks under the ocean floor. This study involved the review of existing literature, documents, and purposive sample of white papers and technical specifications from manufacturers of subsea ploughing and water-jetting equipment as well as firms that lay and/or bury submarine fibre optic cables at sea. A descriptive analysis of the data was done. Among the eight different subsea ploughs and water-jetting equipment selected for this study, waterjetting was found to be more efficient in 83.3 percent of the criteria selected and produced less environmental impact among 80 percent of the evaluation criteria, with respect to subsea ploughing. However, both technologies were found to be not very efficient and produced substantial negative environmental impact. What is required to increase efficiency and reduce environmental impact of cable burial is to develop a novel trenching technology or to make an innovative use of one. There are few previous comparative studies on trenching technologies utilised to bury submarine optical fibre networks under the sea floor. It is also scarce to find literature with respect to their efficiency and environmental impact of trenching at sea in a single research. This comparative review will attempt to fill this gap in literature and, thus, contribute to the academic knowledge base of telecommunications.

Keywords: Submarine cable protection, submarine trenching, subsea ploughing, water-jetting, efficiency, environmental impact

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