Photos: Telstra's undersea fibre optic cable

Photos: Telstra's undersea fibre optic cable

Summary: Installing cables can be difficult — especially if they're 9,000 kilometres long and up several kilometres underwater. Our photo gallery gives you a look inside the 'Ile de Sein', a ship used to lay Telstra's latest fibre optic cable, which will become part of Australia's global Internet network backbone.


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  • This is the Ile de Sein — and as you can see — it's a massive ship. It sports a crew of 60, who work in shifts to lay cable twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

    The cable that runs between Australian and Hawaii isn't straight; it needs to run around under-sea mountains, past crevasses and follows the rugged terrain of the sea floor. Many months of planning were involved in plotting the best undersea route for the cable. A member of the project commented the undersea cables can reach depths of 5,000 metres or more.

    Telstra expects the cable to be active by the fourth quarter this year. Bandwidth on the cable will be available to both Telstra retail and wholesale customers.

  • This is the view from the front windscreen for the Ile de Sein, giving you an idea of the size of the ship. The Ile de Sein has just completed a 9,120km journey from Hawaii, and the cable will connect the Australian mainland tomorrow.

    Telstra said around 65 percent of the Internet content accessed by Australians comes out of the US, and IP traffic has been doubling every two years, a trend that is expected to continue into the future.

    Telstra was not willing to comment on the cost of the cable, but Kate McKenzie from Telstra Wholesale, said the company is "very confident of recovering cost".

Topics: Telcos, Telstra, Tech Industry

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  • I love image 10!!

    "A giant hydraulic machine sits on the back of the Ile de Sein. We don't know what it's for, but it's impressive."

    That's all kinds of funny!!
  • Trenching machine

    The 'hydraulic machine' depicted in picture 10 is a trenching machine.
    Down the bottom near the person's head is where the leading edge of the trencher is.
    The skids are just to the left of that.
    It gets dropped off the back of the ship and cable is fed into the trench as it is made.
    They use this when close to shore because of the possibility of trawlers damaging the cable.
    It will feed cable out at roughly 500m/hour as compared to 10km/h when out at sea.
  • Alternative website.

    I have a small writeup of my visit to this ship as well at
  • Cable Shielding

    In that photo of the shielded and unshielded cables side by side, the shielding on the left cable is actually made of Kevlar!
  • Cable laying coved by wired.

    If you want to read more about how these cables are laid, and the people who lay them, read this excellent article by post-cyberpunk author Neal Stephenson:

    It's over 10 years old but still great (if very long). I'd recommend printing it out, print version is here:
  • Ile de Seine

    At last we know what the ship that has been moored off Mona Vale is doing! Great photos-esp the one where "we don't know what it's for"!