The fibre-optic Basslink cable linking Tasmania to the mainland has officially gone live, with two customers, Aurora and Internode, hooked up to receive transmissions.
The cable was technically live last week, Basslink general manger Michael Coates told ZDNet.com.au this morning, but as of the last 24 hours it now had Aurora and Internode online. A "good half-dozen" other customers would be hooked up in the coming weeks, he said.
Yet Internode customers shouldn't start sending large amounts of data to test the new link, according to a spokesperson for the internet service provider, as it was still testing it to make sure it worked properly. In about a week it should be running at around 100 per cent capacity and customers would then see the benefits, the spokesperson said.
Aurora hadn't responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.
The activation has been the end of a long saga that saw the cable lying dormant under Bass Strait for years. The cable was first planned in 2000, piggybacking an electrical cable. In August 2007, Singaporean company CitySpring Infrastructure Trust, bought Basslink for over $1 billion. It took over a year, however, for an agreement to be reached with parties involved on terms under which the cable's use could go ahead.
Telstra had been the only backhaul provider to the state, owning two cables. Internet service providers such as Internode said the monopoly arrangement made providing services on the island too expensive. Telstra has disputed that its prices were unreasonable.
Digital Tasmania, a group started to get Basslink up and running, has congratulated the government, Aurora and Basslink for their efforts.
"The foresight shown almost a decade ago in recognising the potential to co-locate fibre-optic services with both the Basslink Power Interconnector and the trunk routes of the natural gas pipeline has finally paid off," Digital Tasmania spokesperson said in a statement.
"Add to this the recent NBN announcement and in the space of six months we have gone straight to the head of the class in broadband access."
Digital Tasmania was also pushing for a fourth cable as part of the National Broadband Network, which it believed would cost between $30 and $40 million.
"The NBN will produce a massive increase in demand for backhaul — whether this increase can be absorbed by the existing cables in place remains to be seen," the spokesperson said.