Hawaiki begins laying Pacific subsea cable

TE SubCom's cable-laying ship is berthed in Sydney ahead of laying the Hawaiki subsea cable from Equinix's SY4 datacentre.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

TE SubCom's Responder ship

(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

The $350 million Hawaiki Transpacific Submarine Cable System has begun being laid, with the 15,000km subsea cable connecting Australia and New Zealand to Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States launching from Sydney.

TE SubCom's Responder ship, currently berthed in Sydney, will begin laying the 6,500km fibre-optic cable it has on board, with the cable to land at Equinix's SY4 facility in Alexandria via Coogee Beach.

"The system includes some branching units as well for the islands -- American Samoa is already in, and we expect a few more coming in the next few months," Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP CEO Rémi Galasso told media on Friday morning.

"We have included in the system a branching unit for Fiji, another one for Tonga, and another one for the French territory of New Caledonia."

American Samoa will be the cable's hub for the Polynesian region, he said, with the company remaining positive that it will bring broadband pricing down in the region.

The cable remains on track to be active in June 2018, Galasso told ZDNet, explaining that there will be three fibre pairs: Two between Sydney and the US, and one from New Zealand to the US.

Another ship began laying the cable from Oregon two weeks ago.

Two maintenance vessels, one based in Noumea and the other in Vancouver, are set to repair the system over the next 25 years, with the lifespan of the cable system guaranteed by Hawaiki's supplier TE SubCom.

Hawaiki investor Malcolm Dick said growth in over-the-top (OTT) players as well as growth across ISPs led to the cable being built out, with Galasso adding that Hawaiki is "absolutely" working with the major ISP players in Australia.

The cable being carrier neutral was also why the company was able to get it off the ground while others weren't, the chief executive said.

Hawaiki previously announced that Amazon Web Services had purchased capacity across the subsea cable.


Hawaiki investors Sir Eion Edgar, Rémi Galasso, and Malcolm Dick

(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

Construction commenced on the Hawaiki subsea cable in April last year, three years after first being announced.

The cable is being jointly constructed by Hawaiki Submarine Cable, based in Auckland, and TE SubCom, a cable-laying company from Eatontown, New Jersey.

The cable, which has the option to extend to several South Pacific islands along the route via TE SubCom's optical add/drop multiplexing (OADM) nodes, has a design capacity of 43.8Tbps. The cable makes use of TE SubCom's C100U+ Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE).

The cable is privately owned, having been co-developed by Sir Eion Edgar, a New Zealand businessman whose company provided "substantial" investment for the cable in July 2015, and Galasso. Also providing funding was Dick, the co-founder of New Zealand's third-largest telco Slingshot.

"This is the beginning of a new era for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands in terms of international connectivity," Edgar said at the time.

"We are excited to be at the forefront of this very significant infrastructure investment."

Back in August 2013, Australian internet service provider TPG signed on to pay between AU$10 million and AU$14 million in capex over three years for 3Tbps of capacity on the Hawaiki cable -- to which it can also add the 3Tbps of capacity that iiNet signed a multimillion-dollar agreement to purchase in October 2013, thanks to its AU$1.5 billion takeover of iiNet.

TE SubCom will also be laying the Jupiter subsea cable announced earlier this week, which is being built by a consortium including Facebook, Amazon, SoftBank, NTT Com, PLDT, and PCCW Global between the US, Japan, and the Philippines.

Jupiter will be a 400Gbps wavelength-division multiplex (WDM) transmission system, with submersible reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM) and wavelength selective switch (WSS), which the consortium said will make it the fastest cable system connecting Japan with the US.

The 14,000km Jupiter has an initial design capacity of 60Tbps that can be improved in future, with plans to be ready for service by early 2020.

Telecommunications carriers and consortiums have been racing to build out subsea cable capacity across the Asia-Pacific region, driven by the rapid increase in data usage globally. These cables include Superloop's Indigo system; the Trident subsea cable; Vocus Communications' Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) and North West Cable System (NWCS); Southern Cross Cable Network's NEXT cable; the Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG); the FASTER cable; and Superloop's Hong Kong cable.

In May, NEC demonstrated speeds of 50.9Tbps across subsea cables of up to 11,000km on a single optical fibre through the use of C+L-band erbium-doped optical fibre amplifiers, amounting to speeds of 570 petabits per second-kilometre.

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