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New Zealand government to anchor new international cable

Government to support increased resilience and competition in international data traffic.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor

New Zealand Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams has announced that the government will make an NZ$15 million contribution and become anchor tenant for a new international telecommunications cable between New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.

Adams today called for expressions of interest from companies considering building a new international telecommunications cable.

The cable would need to meet the requirements of the research, education, and innovation communities, as well as normal commercial traffic, she said.

"In order to take part in global research projects, our research and education communities need dedicated capacity that can handle huge data volumes, and provide high levels of reliability," she said.

"International, collaborative projects are characterised by intermittent, high-throughput, multi-terabit data flows that may last for days."

Building a new cable will increase the resilience of New Zealand's international telecommunications links, currently reliant mainly on the Southern Cross cable, which is laid as a figure of eight to provide some inbuilt resilience.

While the existing Southern Cross loop is expected to continue to meet New Zealand's requirements until at least 2020, a new cable will also introduce more competition on the route and provide additional capacity, Adams said.

The tender document says that the service "will extend internationally, a high-capacity (2 Terabits per second) optical network covering most of New Zealand's research and education sector", that usage of the network will be restricted to members of research, education, and innovation communities, and that any capacity will not be resellable to commercial telcos.

Any proposed solution must be able to hand a growth rate of 50 percent per annum for 25 years or the projected life of the cable, with the baseline being a load of 12Gbps estimated for traffic in 2015. The tender says that a single provider would be preferred over a joint or consortium bid.

A call for expressions of interest in building a new trans-Tasman and trans-Pacific cable will be published today on tender website www.gets.govt.nz.

Several attempts have been made to get a new cable project off the ground in New Zealand in recent years, including one from private investors in Pacific Fibre.

Southern Cross is majority owned by Telecom New Zealand with a 50.01 percent stake, as well as SingTel and Verizon.

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