Vocus updating networks ahead of ASC

Vocus is adding 8Tbps of capacity to its domestic core networks between Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth ahead of the Australia-Singapore Cable being ready for service.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Vocus has announced that it will be upgrading its core domestic networks infrastructure to deliver an additional 8Tbps of capacity between Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne ahead of its Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) becoming ready for service.

"We're expecting immediate network activity when the ASC is ready for service, so this upgrade is critical to ensuring we keep ahead of demand and continue to provide the most advanced and intelligent network for our customers," Vocus head of International Luke Mackinnon said.

"The ASC project includes two new PoPs in Singapore, replacing the existing PoP. It will also add diversity and multiple hand-off options in Equinix SG1/SG3 and STT/Globalswitch.

"An entirely new PoP for Christmas Island is a first for Vocus, and will deliver the island's first ever terrestrial connection providing massive capacity uplift for the community."

Vocus added that it is currently in the process of signing customers for its ASC, and has multiple agreements "already in place with key customers" ahead of beginning to lay the ASC cable next month.

The ASC, worth $170 million, has been delivered to Singapore; one third of the cable and repeaters will begin being laid in February by the Ile de Re cable laying ship, while the remaining two thirds will be transferred to the Ile de Batz ship in Christmas Island.

The former ship will lay cable between Singapore and Christmas Island, while the latter will travel from Christmas Island to Perth. Both legs will use different cable-laying techniques, as the first leg of the cable must be buried because it will be laid in the shallow and busy Java Sea route, Vocus said.

"We will perform the final splice in April, enabling the commissioning to begin. That will take place in May and June, giving us a ready-for-service date soon after," Mackinnon said in November.

Vocus had in August confirmed the ASC would be completed ahead of schedule, with services to be launched in July 2018 despite adding a spur to Christmas Island, ahead of competitor cable systems Indigo and Trident.

Vocus signed Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks in December to help build the 4,600-kilometre ASC, which is designed to carry 40Tbps at a minimum across four fibre pairs.

Originally a 50-50 joint-venture deal between Vocus and Nextgen Networks, Vocus subsequently purchased Nextgen Networks for AU$700 million in June 2016, paying an additional AU$27 million for the ASC and AU$134 million for the North West Cable System (NWCS).

The $139 million 2,100km fibre-optic NWCS went live in September 2016.

Last week, Vocus additionally announced entering an 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.

The agreement with the federal government is worth AU$2,841,301.10 to Vocus, according to tender documents.

Vocus, which announced its restructure last week, said the three-month scoping study would involve consulting with the governments of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, gathering detailed requirements, conducting a desktop survey, tendering the cable system project, and commencing permits.

This is then expected to lead to the rollout of the cable system on behalf of the Australian government from 2018.

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.

In addition to the ASC, NWCS, Indigo, and Trident, these cables include the Hawaiki Transpacific Submarine Cable System; Southern Cross Cable Network's NEXT cable; the Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG); the FASTER cable; the Jupiter subsea cable being built by a consortium including Facebook, Amazon, SoftBank, NTT Com, PLDT, and PCCW; and Superloop's Hong Kong cable.

Telstra earlier on Monday also announced investing in two new Pacific submarine cable systems connecting Hong Kong with the West Coast of the United States: The Hong Kong Americas (HKA) and the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN).

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