Vocus makes ASC ready early due to subsea cable outage

With the SMW3 subsea cable suffering a 'major' outage, Vocus has made its ASC submarine cable system ready for service two weeks early despite it still being in the final testing stage.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor
(Image: Vocus Communications)

Vocus has announced making its Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) ready for service two weeks early, shifting customers over from the SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) subsea cable due to the latter suffering a "major service disruption" between Singapore and Perth.

Despite the ASC still being in its final testing stage after being switched on last week, Vocus CTO Simon Smith on Wednesday approved the early activation of services, with engineers to continue working to "fully operationalise" the ASC by September 14.

"After consulting our team conducting final testing, we are confident that ASC is ready to provide reliable and effective services to mitigate the effect of the SMW3 outage," Smith said.

"Even though we had announced Vocus ASC ready for service on September 14, our priority is ensuring our customers continue to access the connectivity they require. The SMW3 outage has forced our hand, but our testing on ASC is ahead of schedule and we are confident enough to press ASC into early service."

The 4,600km $170 million ASC, which is designed to carry 40Tbps at a minimum across four fibre pairs, was designed to "provide the newest, quickest, and most direct route into Asia", according to new CEO Kevin Russell.

"The technology deployed on the ASC has been selected to easily integrate with the intelligent network management platform Vocus is currently rolling out, offering superior latency over comparable systems," Russell said last week.

The ASC finished being laid in July, with Vocus last week saying 2.5Tbps of capacity has thus far been sold on the subsea cable system to date, including "a major global OTT customer".

Earlier this week, Vocus also announced that it will be working with the Northern Territory government to construct a subsea cable connecting Darwin with the Tiwi Islands north of Australia, due to be completed by the end of 2019.

The 60km Tiwi Islands connection will come via a branching unit off Vocus' $139 million 2,100km fibre-optic North West Cable System (NWCS), which went live in September 2016.

Vocus is also working on the AU$137 million contract it was awarded in June by the Australian government to construct the Coral Sea Cable between Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.

"We have also made significant progress in this last year towards the implementation of a single advanced core network," Vocus said last month.

"This, together with the ongoing consolidation and decommissioning of legacy assets, the capacity upgrades to our network and the improved capital expenditure disciplines and controls we have implemented, will all deliver ongoing benefits into the future."

The Coral Sea Cable System is expected to be complete by the end of next year, with the telco also set to build out a domestic submarine cable network in the Solomon Islands to link Auki in Malaita Province, Noro in Western Province, and Taro in Choiseul Province with the Honiara landing point, which will be jointly funded by Australia and the Solomon Islands.

Vocus last month reported total group revenue up 2 percent to AU$1.9 billion for FY18, with underlying net profit down 17 percent to AU$127 million while statutory net profit was AU$61 million.

Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) were stagnant, at AU$366 million, while statutory EBITDA was AU$360 million, up 7 percent.

Subsea cables across the globe

  • Vocus' Australia-Singapore Cable (ASC)
  • Vocus' North West Cable System (NWCS) between Darwin and Port Hedland, and the new Tiwi Islands spur being added
  • The Australian government's Coral Sea subsea cable, being constructed by Vocus to connect Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands and funded through the foreign aid budget
  • Google's Dunant transatlantic subsea cable between Virginia Beach in the United States to the French Atlantic coast
  • The Indigo subsea cable system
  • The Indian government's Chennai-Andaman and Nicobar islands subsea cable, being built by NEC
  • Southern Cross Cables' NEXT subsea cable system between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, being built by SubPartners
  • The Trident subsea cable system connecting Perth with Singapore via Indonesia
  • The Jupiter subsea cable connecting the US, Japan, and the Philippines and being built by a consortium including Facebook, Amazon, SoftBank, NTT Com, PLDT, and PCCW
  • The Hawaiki subsea cable between Australia, New Zealand, and the US
  • Superloop's Hong Kong cable
  • Telstra's Hong Kong Americas (HKA) cable between Hong Kong and the US
  • Telstra's Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) between Hong Kong and the US
  • Google's Japan-Guam-Australia (JGA) cable system
  • The Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG) subsea cable connecting China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore, owned by a consortium including China Telecom, China Unicom, China Mobile, NTT Communications, KT Corporation, LG Uplus, StarHub, Chunghwa Telecom, CAT, Global Transit Communications, Viettel, and VNPT, and being constructed by NEC
  • The Southeast Asia Japan 2 cable (SJC2), which will have 11 landing stations in Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, being built by NEC and funded by a consortium including China Mobile International, Chunghwa Telecom, Chuan Wei, Facebook, KDDI, Singtel, SK Broadband, and VNPT
  • The Bay to Bay Express Cable System (BtoBE), connecting Singapore and Hong Kong with the US, being funded by consortium including Facebook, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and China Mobile International, and being built by NEC
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