Hawaiki subsea cable reaches halfway point

Hawaiki's 15,000km, 43.8Tbps subsea cable connecting Australia and New Zealand with the west coast of the United States is now past its halfway point.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

TE SubCom's Responder ship

(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

The $350 million Hawaiki Transpacific Submarine Cable System has now reached the halfway point of its rollout across the Pacific Ocean, with the 15,000km subsea cable to connect Australia and New Zealand to Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States.

More than half of the 15,000km submarine cable system has now been laid, with TE SubCom's cable-laying vessel, the Responder, now berthed in Auckland ahead of connecting New Zealand to the system later in January.

"Landing the cable in its home country represents a major event for our team," Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP CEO Rémi Galasso said.

"Hawaiki will bring huge benefits to New Zealand in terms of greater connectivity to Australia and the US, security of supply, diversity, and increased business opportunities for the telecom and IT industries."

Hawaiki also announced being granted a US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licence in December, with the US domestic segment between Oregon and Hawaii having been completed during the final quarter of 2017.

With the cable landings in Sydney, Australia, Oahu, Hawaii, and Pacific City, Oregon already completed, the cable landing in American Samoa is scheduled to complete in March.

Hawaiki began laying the international portion of its subsea cable in November.

"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," Galasso told media at the time.

"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.

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 TE SubCom.

Construction commenced on the Hawaiki subsea cable in April 2016, three years after first being announced. It has a design capacity of 43.8Tbps and 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 Malcolm Dick, the co-founder of New Zealand's third-largest telco Slingshot.

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.

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 the Jupiter subsea cable; the Trident subsea cable; Vocus' 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.

Vocus earlier on Thursday additionally announced entering a AU$2.8 million agreement with Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to scope out the design, construction, and procurement of a subsea cable between Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands.

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