Ship boat

Ship shortage means Maple Leaf abandons submarine plan

The project, a joint venture with Crosslake Fiber of Canada, was to be onshore between Kingston, Ontario and Montreal, and at the bottom of Lake Ontario westward from Kingston to Toronto.

But now a shortage of cable-laying vessels means that all Maple Leaf fiber will be terrestrial, from Toronto to Montreal to Kingston.

Fergus Innes (pictured), commercial director of Toronto-based Crosslake, said Ability: “Availability of vessels [is] one of the reasons we went from underwater design to full land construction on our Maple Leaf Fiber project.

The project has been in the works for at least four years, since Crosslake partnered with Montreal-based Metro Optic, as well as Utilities Kingston.

But Crosslake – whose first project was across Lake Ontario between Canada and the United States – turned instead to Europe, first on a project to link Ireland north of France, which was abandoned, then on the construction of the first England-France cable for two decades. He completed this project at the end of 2021.

Crosslake and Metro Optic announced in February 2022 that they had integrated their networks and service offering to provide turnkey infrastructure and low latency fiber solutions to high data users in North America, reaching Montreal, Toronto , Vancouver, Chicago, Washington DC and New York.

But the companies were still planning, until February, to install the Toronto-Kingston section of Maple Leaf fiber on the bed of Lake Ontario.

Now, however, a shortage of cable-laying vessels has changed Crosslake’s mind. For more on how supply chain issues are affecting many fiber infrastructure investments, check out day two of the ITW Dailywho Ability publishes in print on the occasion of International Telecoms Week.