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Nextgen and Alcatel-Lucent seal $100m subsea fibre deal

Australia’s Nextgen Group has signed a deal worth upward of AU$100 million with Alcatel-Lucent and two major oil and gas players to construct a 2000-kilometre fibre optic cable between Darwin and Port Headland.
Written by Leon Spencer, Contributor on

Australian communications, cloud and data centre company, Nextgen Networks, has inked a deal with French telecommunications technology group, Alcatel-Lucent, as well as Shell and Inpex to build a 2000-kilometre undersea fibre-optic cable system between Darwin and Port Headland.

According to a Nextgen spokesperson, the deal is worth upwards of AU$100 million over the project's two-year time-frame, which will see work on the new cable between Darwin in the Northern Territory and Western Australia's Port Headland begin this month. It is scheduled for completion in 2016.

The subsea fibre-optic cable system will provide high-speed data and voice communications for Inpex's Ichthys liquefied natural gas project and Shell's Prelude floating liquefied natural gas project, both located in the Browse Basin off the north-west Australian coast.

Both of the offshore gas projects will connect to Nextgen's infrastructure in WA, including the company's Shenton Park data centre, which was launched in early March.

The system has a design capacity of more than 3.2 terabits-per-second (Tbps), with the potential to be upgraded to more than 32 Tbps.

According to Nextgen, the Shell and Inpex projects will also contribute to the construction of the cable system, which will be owned and operated by Nextgen and is based on the undersea cable technology of Alcatel-Lucent, which is also participating in the construction.

According to Nextgen's chief executive officer, Peter McGrath, the project would not only provide telecommunications support for the offshore oil and gas industry in Australia, but also establish an "alternative backhaul path" to Perth.

"Nextgen understands Australia's resource industry will need increasingly high speed and robust communications links over time," said McGrath in a statement.

According to Inpex's Ichthys project managing director, Louis Bon, the construction of the subsea infrastructure was an "Australian first" for private customers on the mainland.

"This is a great achievement for the Ichthys project and an excellent example of what collaboration in the oil and gas industry can achieve," said Bon. "It means that both of these projects, far north of Port Hedland, will be connected to data centers thousands of kilometers away in Perth."

For Alcatel-Lucent Australia's president and managing director, Sean O'Halloran, the new project reflects a growing trend of players in the local resources sector investing in large telecommunications projects.

"This is another example of a strong telecommunications investment trend in the Australian resources sector," he said. "Alcatel-Lucent has many years working closely to keep Nextgen at the forefront of the market and this project is another great product of that positive collaborative relationship."

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