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You will find below the AQEST News as well as the famous Jean Devos' "LETTERS TO A FRIEND"... Read, enjoy and appreciate these truthful moments...


Letter to a friend:“Engineering is poetry!”


My dear friends,

The sharp engineers and searchers may not like my statement. They feel they are real world guys, with their feet well on the ground. But they are true poets because of their ability to create. The etymology of the word poet is clear. In the ancient Greek language, “poiesis” stands for “creation” from the verb “poien”, achieve, create.

At least, this is the way I do perceive it and so is the case for people who are not sharps technologists. When reading their writings through our smoky ignorance, we enjoy the music of their words, we like the rhythm and the freshness of their expressions, the soft focus of their esoteric and sibylline phrases .

The submarine cable environment, the associated challenges, the mysterious sea beds depths and demanding conditions, all of this brings an additional epic dimension. Beams of light flashing in deep waters, this is a poem!

Here is a perfect octosyllabic quatrain, that I somewhat picked up recently in a technical document :

“Il développe un nouveau projet
Qui va tout révolutionner
C’est top secret, confidentiel
Il va proposer la bande L” 

Reading these well balanced words, one is tempted to sing them loud. They say a lot! And they pique our curiosity!

The following one comes from the French poet Louis Aragon :

“The poet (engineer) is always right
He sees beyond the horizon
Looking forward is its domain
He owns the future of humans.”

Thanks to you, our dear poets.

Jean Devos
AQEST Senior Advisor

Letter to a friend:“Dunant Project: a clear case!”


My dear friend,

Henry Dunant is the International Red Cross founder and Dunant is now the name of the US- France cable project that Google is planning with the help of Orange. For its USA-Chile project Google is picking Curie (Marie Curie) while Monet was chosen in a previous case. One would expect an European to be proud of that I guess? But, I cannot avoid thinking that the choice of these great figures is only a kind of concession to the “Old Europe”. In reality these two large cables will be built by the American TE Subcom through a direct award process.

I can hear you reacting, my friend: «And then what? It’s competition! In a way to be efficient, to move rapidly, Google activates their relation with TE SubCom, they use the services of Orange for their French landing and they polish their image with these Nobel prices!! It is a Google project, my friend, carrying the Google way! That’s it! »

I understand all this! The GAFAs* needs their own global network and have it built at their pace, the way they want. A partnership with one or more suppliers gives them a priority, good prices and access to the most powerful technologies! Nothing new on earth, this is “déjà vu”. We seem to be back to the old times when a handful of dominant carriers were pushing their pawns on the chessboard with a national supplier in their back. This was when AT&T was the Google and BT the Facebook of the time!

In contrast with Europe, China has closed its door to Google. So, Google cannot play here the same music. Google will certainly not pick up the Chinese Nobel price Liu Xiaobo. China has developed its own set of “GAFAs”, the so called BATX, namely Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and Xiaomi. And now China has clearly started to have its own global network built by its national supplier Huawei. Local carriers in Asia, Africa and Latin America are only keen to give access. It will soon be the same in Europe and UK!

A bipolar world is on the way, my friend, and two webs, two global networks carrying the two superpowers services, ideas, cultures, together their good and their mud!

It looks too late for the atomized and exhausted Europe to build a third pillar. The European citizen is widely “googelized” and one can see that the Orange and Telefonica have already lower their flag. The “European Google” QWANT is bravely engaged in a “David versus Goliath” combat! The European market will not resist to the Chinese Tigers offerings more than they resist to the American Gorillas!

May be less so ! “Open Sesame”. We will all rush into the Alibaba’s cave!

Jean Devos
AQEST Senior Advisor

Season’s Greetings!

The whole AQEST Team

is wishing you

fantastic New Year 2018!

PTC’18: we will be there!


As every year, our team will be present at PTC (Pacific Telecommunications Concil). This Conference will take place between January 21, 2018 and January 24, 2018 in Honolulu.

We would be delighted to meet you there!

If you want to schedule a meeting with us, don’t hesitate to contact Laurent Campagne ( - Mob. +33 6 37 10 84 24) or Patrick Faidherbe ( - Mob. +33 6 79 41 62 90).

Letter to a friend:“2038!”


My dear friend,

I am really fascinated by the changes underway but also a little concerned for my grandchildren. I often projected myself into the future, trying to figure out what life will be like in the coming decades. The musings of my after-lunch naps or the dreams of my paradoxical sleep are sometimes paradise but often nightmarish

I recently found myself in September 2038 the very day of my hundred years, nicely surrounded by my family and a few good friends! One hundred candles that I managed to blow thanks to the daily practice of my robotised treadmill. Thanks also to my many implants. I was outfitted with for the Paris Olympics in 2024. My great-grandson Eduard age of 37 had come from Shanghai by the recently launched 30 minute rocket flight! He was there with his Chinese wife and their son, an alien to me totally incomprehensible!

The 2038 Europe lost his footing in the face of China and America, and is thus relegated in the late country club, those who did not could or wanted to adapt in the age of artificial intelligence. Such rapid development caused the excitement of the strongest and the panic of the weak. Giant leap forward there, regression here. 2038 Europe is now a large museum and a huge recreation base for biologically connected tourists from all around the world. Edward and his family see Europe in the same way as we perceived Africa in our own youth.

The 2038 world is not driven, governed anymore by the national governments now reduced to a bare because of their lack of long-term vision! The digital corporations took power, providing their "members" all of the much needed services, health, education, security, insurance, banks, and this regardless of the territory where they live.

The OTT and some American billionaires and their Chinese equivalents demonstrated clear and assumed ambitions: increase of human potential, health, longevity. They partially succeeded: the average healthy life expectancy increased significantly thanks to the merger between machines and human beings. The conquest of other planets will soon allow humans spread throughout the universe in search of new resources.

The achievement of the two major suppliers of underwater systems, Subcom and Huawei, were extensively commented around my birthday table. Subcom is the strong arm of the US content providers and symmetrically Huawei for the Chinese ones. But everyone is happy to see that our activity still plays a major role. Thousands of micro-satellites now provide the bulk of regional traffic but two dense and smart networks of superhighways, an American and a Chinese, crisscross the ocean, provoking each other.

Elaine Stafford and Jayne Stowell, the two great ladies of the activity, still in great shape, enjoyed the discussion but even more so my favourite St Émilion wine and rejoiced with me that the new Chinese owner of this “grand cru” has been able to keep all its flavours.

In my wildest dreams, the famous Bordeaux wines and submarine optical fibre still play key roles.

Phew... so goes the 2038 world!

Jean Devos
AQEST Senior Advisor

Letter to a friend:“The unloved”


My dear friend,

I am told that a wind of optimism was flowing on the Singapore recent conference. The Submarine Cable activity is expected to be high in the coming years. Good! In such circumstance some people do not understand why Nokia and TE Connectivity are trying to divest from this activity and also why nobody seems to be keen to take it over from them. I think that raising these questions just shows that the community gathered in those conferences is sitting far from some aspect of the real world. My question to them is: would you be keen to take a job in a submarine cable factory?

To produce turnkey submarine systems requires a large range of skills of very diverse nature! At least three set of capabilities, three very different cultures: cable, telecom equipment and marine works. Each of these areas requires significant investments in machines, ships and R&D. It is a hardware industry which is not very popular anymore! Top managers and investors want a simple structure, without heavy assets. The Soft, not the Hard!

But there is a more precise cause of the problem: the suppliers are not profitable anymore. The bottom lines are miserable! My dear friend, I know you are laughing at me!! But this is real.

In a first instance, the suppliers have managed to modernise their equipment and their process, and have been able to absorb and even propose significant price reduction. But limits have been reached there when the price pressure has not stopped under the GAFAM’s influence.

During the last two decades, the culture of “mere buyers” replaced the one of “mutual understanding” where a contract needed to be good for both parties. This is a mortal silly game!! Getting these very low levels of prices was absolutely not necessary to build an efficient global network. For the mere pleasure of playing tricky game, one squeezes the suppliers to the rock bottom for finally put in places too many, over designed and then costly cables!!

Some long-term vision would do good!

Jean Devos
AQEST Senior Advisor


Letter to a friend:“And Bonaparte sold Louisiana”

My dear friend,

The choice of New Orleans as the SubOptic 2019 venue pleased me and I now try to understand the reason. It is a fact that the words Orleans, Pontchartrain, Maurepas or Lafayette are very familiar name in the French History. The name Louisiana was given by Cavelier de la Salle as a recognition to the French king Louis XIV. But all the French are learning at school that Bonaparte, the future emperor, in 1803 “sold Louisiana to the American for a symbolic dollar” Shame on him?

Louisiana was then a huge territory extending from Canada to the Mexican gulf and from the Mississippi to the Rockies! The Cavelier de la Salle expedition coming from the North, reached the Mexican gulf in 1682. Looking at a map of the USA today, a naive Frenchman dreams that this Louisiana, covering 12 of the today states could have been French! He thinks “What a mistake! Why Bonaparte sold such a piece of jewellery?”

The very young American republic was very keen to find an access to the Mexican gulf! The president Jefferson sent Livingstone and Monroe to Paris with the mandate to obtain the free right of navigation on the Mississippi, the possibility to commerce with Caribbean’s islands and also to eventually buy New-Orleans.

Livingstone was stunned to be offered the acquisition of the full Louisiana territory against the sum of 80 million Francs. For this very modest amount, the American were doubling the size of their country!!

Through this move Bonaparte was not only realistic but was following its anti-British strategy! He had realized that he did not have the means to control and develop such a large territory and above all that the risk to see the British taking it over was real. So he choose to “offer the British a powerful rival”. His view was that “a more powerful America will surely become for England a maritime rival who, soon or later will push down its pride”

Conclusion: Napoleon did not always take good decisions but this one was clearly wise and smart! In our activity today we would say “Louisiana is not in our business plan” or “do not fit with our business model”. But let us point out that the Bonaparte’s decision was an element of a strategic vision. Good for him but also the best solution for Louisiana!

This is why I forgive Napoleon for the fact that I would need to speak English if attending SubOptic 2019!

Jean Devos

AQEST Senior Advisor


Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Our 7th birthday party took place on June 1st, 2017 under the watchful eye of the Eiffel Tower.

This annual event on the river Seine in Paris was a great success! More than 150 key players in the Submarine Cable Industry from all over the world participated to this awaited celebration!

The whole AQEST Team would like to thank everyone of you for your support and the interest you are showing to our company!

So see you next year for our 8th anniversary party!


Letter to a friend:“The three castles”


My dear friend,

I live in an old country full of history, covered with all kind of castles, fortresses and cathedrals. They were solidly built on a rocky height, at strategic crossroads, designed to meet the needs of the people from a given territory. All kinds of activities, multiple skills, a variety of cultures were developed behind and afoot their thick walls.  Their architectural styles varied according to their region. These citadels have valiantly resisted to many conflicts, disasters and the damages of time. One do not erect anymore buildings in heavy stones or massive beams: architectures of today want to be light, translucent and ephemeral as clouds in a changing sky 

This is how I see our top three submarine systems suppliers. They dominate the plain from the top of their respective dungeon. These citadels were built in the 19th century each in a defined territory, Europe, America and Asia. They were logically located at the strategic crossroads that are the access roads of the Atlantic and the Pacific. Their slow construction responded to clear geopolitical ambitions, wills of conquest and influence. 

These fortresses cleverly managed to evolve, open their doors, adapt themselves, and broaden their capabilities. The world has changed but these three houses are still ideally fitted and located, together competitor and complementary so as to meet the needs of an open world. They draw their strength from their long history and the rich depth of their environment. As a result they continue to enjoy the trust of the market.

Are we going to see, one day, the successful emergence of a new structure? It is my conviction that the number 3 is the ideal one, small enough to keep costs reasonable and large enough to ensure the necessary competition. As a consequence, a new build needs to come through the collapse or the shooting down of one of the “citadels” 

My dear friend, I’ve recently paid visit to an old village, south of France, where three castles had ruled peacefully the area for a very long time. The construction of a fourth one provoked a war that ended with four ruins!

Jean Devos
AQEST Senior Advisor

PS: If a new citadel is built, a Chinese one for instance, which one of the three others will collapse?


PTC’17: here we are!

As every year, our team will be present at PTC (Pacific Telecommunications Concil). This Conference will take place between January 15, 2017 and January 18, 2017 in Hawaii.

We would be delighted to meet you there!

If you want to schedule a meeting with us, don’t hesitate to contact Laurent Campagne ( - Mob. +33 6 37 10 84 24) or Patrick Faidherbe ( - Mob. +33 6 79 41 62 90).

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