SubOptic Spotlight

In-line with our values and purpose, SubOptic is launching a series of free 60 min online events to discuss the latest trends, news and challenges being faced by the submarine telecoms industry.  Through these Spotlight events we will be looking to develop industry wide initiatives to actively drive change and shape the future of subsea telecommunications.

For our first series, top level executives and thought leaders discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the global subsea telecommunications industry.

The objective of each 60 min Spotlight will be to discuss the challenges, priorities, solutions and needs the industry is facing in this time of global crisis.

We expect to touch upon issues such as:

  • the robustness of the global network to increased demand;
  • the necessity of repair capability & challenges imposed by maritime/immigration restrictions;
  • supply chain issues and their impact on construction and upgrades;
  • the ever-greater importance of government authorities in supporting these critical network activities.

Upcoming Spotlight events

A thank you to all our sponsors

Recent Spotlight events


SubOptic’s 6TH and final event in the COVID-19 Spotlight Series:  NAVIGATING COVID-19: CREATING OPPORTUNITY OUT OF CRISIS focussed on new opportunities created by the submarine cable industry over these past months –  some (but not all) of which have grown out of new ways of doing business and operating our global communications fabric as we navigate our way through the pandemic.

Our special guest speaker for this event was Dr Julie Albright, Digital Sociologist and Author of “Left to Their Own Devices: How Digital Natives Are Reshaping the American Dream”. Dr Albright shared insights on human-technology sociological trends and how COVID-19 has impacted these trends – including individual and collective dependence on technology & its supporting infrastructure.

SubOptic’s Spotlight #6 touched upon:

  1. Cooperation across industry sectors and with governments that enabled collective progress in serving global communication needs
  2. How technology investment has enabled our industry to perform during COVID and how further investment in technology may enable even more efficiencies and effectiveness moving forward
  3. How COVID has shown the value to the industry of people and what that means about investing in people in the future
  4. Critical voids in our industry left wanting of new solutions

Weds 1st July, 9am EST

Dr Julie AlbrightGuest Speaker:
Dr Julie Albright, Digital Sociologist and Author of “Left to Their Own Devices: How Digital Natives Are Reshaping the American Dream”

Elaine Stafford
Elaine Stafford, Managing Partner, DRG Undersea Consulting

Erick Contag
Erick Contag, President, SubOptic, Executive Chairman, Globenet

Stuart Blythe
Stuart Blythe, Partner, Baker Botts (UK) LLP

David Coughlan
David Coughlan, CEO, SubCom



In our fifth Suboptic Spotlight we focussed on the impact to the global network of COVID-19 and how global network owners/operators and service providers are serving their customers during these challenging times.

Moderated by Elaine Stafford, Industry leaders addressed issues such as:

  • Network demand changes as a result of COVID-19 and their temporary (or permanent) nature
  • Challenges & solutions to expanding network capability to meet the new demand
  • Challenges & solutions of keeping the networks up and running when cable repairs or other outages occur
  • The impact of the last few months on the outlook for new cables, both underway and planned

Weds 17th June, 9am EST

Elaine StaffordGuest Moderator:
Elaine Stafford, Managing Partner, DRG Undersea Consulting

Guest Speaker:
Dave Temkin, Vice President of Network and Systems Infrastructure, Netflix

Erick ContagSpeaker:
Erick Contag, President, SubOptic, Executive Chairman, Globenet

Andy LumsdenSpeaker:
Andy Lumsden, Head (Principal) Engineering Operations, Telstra International

Sohail QadirSpeaker:
Sohail Qadir. Vice President Omantel

Jean-Luc VuilleminSpeaker:
Jean-Luc Vuillemin, Executive Vice President, International Networks, Orange

Vijay VusirikalaSpeaker:
Vijay Vusirikala, Principal Engineer & Director, Network Architecture, Google

Navigating COVID-19: Maintaining Global Supply Continuity


In our fourth Suboptic Spotlight our panel discussed another critical aspect of our industry during the pandemic, the resiliency and continuity of the submarine system global supply chain – component supply, manufacturing, delivery and on-site services.

Moderated by Ed McCormack, Industry leaders addressed the challenges in maintaining supply lines to the Service Providers and explored changes in working practices and other innovative responses to the current emergency.

A wide range of topics were addressed including:

  • How has the supply chain had to adapt to maintain all supplies with the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19?
  • How have we coped with the logistical issues of getting personnel on site and in factories for FAT, surveys, CLS and DC installation, testing and maintenance?
  • What changes have we seen in capabilities to perform supply chain tasks remotely and with automation?
  • Have there been knock-on changes in NOC activities and responsibilities?
  • Have there been and will there remain changes to the way consortia systems are procured and operate?
  • Has Covid-19 helped accelerate the digital transformation?
  • Will the industry emerge with a more resilient supply chain?
  • What positive benefits will be realised both in the submarine industry and the wider community?

Weds 10th June, 9am EST

Ed McCormackGuest Moderator:
Ed McCormack: Independent Consultant

John-Paul (JP) Hemingway, CEO, SES Networks

Abdullah AlsamhanSpeaker:
Abdullah Alsamhan, SMW5 MC Chair, General Manager, STC

Oliver JonesSpeaker:
Oliver Jones, CEO, Chayora

Dean VerverkaSpeaker:
Dean Veverka, CTO, Southern Cross

Alison WilsonSpeaker:
Alison Wilson, Vice President, Global Fulfilment – Ciena

Leigh Frame, COO, Xtera

Navigating COVID-19: keeping our subsea networks running in a time of crisis


This round table – representing vessel owners, medics and security experts – discussed the current and future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marine operations:

  • Operational challenges for vessel owners in the submarine cable sector, permits, crew and logistics.
  • General health of the marine supply chain both now and looking ahead.
  • COVID-19 screening, protective equipment and risk mitigation strategies for offshore operations.
  • For up and coming projects in regions requiring special security, how COVID-19 impacts those measures.
  • With the expectation that restrictions will start to ease, what would “normal” look like for vessel operators and what changes could we expect or hope to see in the future?
  • What changes have been made during the current restrictions that will continue when we return to the new normal, i.e. what has been improved during the restrictions? Save

Weds 20th May, 9am EST

Alasdair WilkieGuest Moderator:
Alasdair Wilkie, CTO Marine, Digicel and Chairman of ACMA

Dr Paddy MorganSpeaker:
Dr Paddy Morgan, Medical Director, SSI Energy

Duncan HighamSpeaker:
Duncan Higham, Managing Director, SSI Energy

Bruce Neilson-Watts, Managing Director – Telecoms, Global Marine Systems Ltd

Shiun JyeSpeaker:
Shiun Jye, CEO, Asean Cableship PTE Ltd

Didier DillardSpeaker:
Didier Dillard, CEO, Orange Marine and Elettra

Graham EvansSpeaker:
Graham Evans, Managing Director; Global Subsea Cable Business at EGS & Chairman International Cable Protection Committee

Navigating COVID-19: The subsea legal and regulatory challenges


In our second SubOptic Spotlight, our executive speakers discussed the legal and regulatory challenges being faced by the subsea telecommunications industry. Topics discussed included:

  • Essential business and essential worker status, port and maritime zone access, travel and crew changes, protection of personnel and port staff health, expedited permitting for repairs and new builds
  • Assessment of what have governments done well, and what remains to be done
  • Messaging about the importance of submarine cables during—and following—the pandemic, and the ICPC Call to Action
  • Key contracts for system supply, capacity sale, colocation and hosting, O&M, marine and terrestrial maintenance, and survey, which may or may not clearly address what happens to performance and payment during a pandemic, or who should bear the risk
  • Interpretation of key terms regarding force majeure, material adverse effect, other remedies and grounds for relief, and insolvency

Weds 6th May, 9am EST

Kent BressieGuest Moderator:
Kent Bressie, Partner, Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP and Legal Advisor to the International Cable Protection Committee (USA)

Stuart BlytheSpeaker:
Stuart Blythe, Partner, Baker Botts (UK) LLP

Catherine CreeseSpeaker:
Catherine Creese, Director, Naval Seafloor Cable Protection Office (US Navy)

Andrew BoyceSpeaker:
Andrew Boyce, Assistant Director, Telecoms Security (Subsea Cables), Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (UK Government)

Navigating COVID-19: Its impact on the submarine telecommunications industry


In our first SubOptic Spotlight, our executive speakers shared the high-level challenges, priorities, solutions and needs the industry is facing in this time of crisis.

Weds 22nd April, 9am EST

Elaine StaffordModerator:
Elaine Stafford, Managing Partner, DRG Undersea Consulting

Najam AhmadSpeaker:
Najam Ahmad, VP, Network Engineering, Facebook

Naoki YoshidaSpeaker:
Naoki Yoshida, Executive VP, NEC

Bruce Neilson-Watts, Managing Director – Telecoms at Global Marine Systems Ltd

Alain BistonSpeaker:
Alain Biston, President & CEO Alcatel Submarine Network

Kent BressieSpeaker:
Kent Bressie, Partner, Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP and Legal Advisor to the International Cable Protection Committee