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Telstra, Spark, Vodafone switch on 20Tbps New Zealand subsea cable

The $100 million 20Tbps two-pair fibre subsea cable between Australia and New Zealand has been switched on by Telstra, Spark, and Vodafone.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The Tasman Global Access (TGA) submarine cable has been switched on, connecting New Zealand with Australia, thanks to a partnership between telecommunications carriers Telstra, Spark, and Vodafone.

The $100 million 2,288km submarine cable, which extends from Ngarunui Beach in Raglan to Narrabeen Beach in Sydney, is made up of two fibre pairs with a total capacity of 20Tbps.

Following construction, the cable was laid by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks -- now a division of Nokia.

"The TGA cable represents a big investment in trans-Tasman telecommunications," Spark GM of Wholesale and International Jilyut Wong said in a statement on Thursday.

"The added resilience and diversity is extremely important to keeping New Zealand connected, now and into the future."

The cable was designed to meet New Zealand's international capacity requirement, which is projected to grow by 11,000 percent over the next decade.

The project, launched back in 2014, will also connect New Zealand with the five major APAC cable systems extending from Australia: The Southern Cross Cable, the Endeavour, the Australia-Japan Cable, the Pipe Pacific Cable, and the SEA-ME-WE 3 (SMW3) cable.

(Image: Spark)

Other subsea cables being built out around the Asia-Pacific area include the Trident Subsea Cable; SubPartners' APX-West; Vocus Communications' Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) and North West Cable System (NWCS); the Hawaiki cable; the Asia-Pacific Gateway (APG); the FASTER cable; and Superloop's Hong Kong cable.

The 28Tbps two-pair fibre-optic, 1,070-kilometre Trident subsea cable will connect Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia, with stage one slated to go live next month and the entire cable to be completed by the second quarter of 2018. It utilises 100Gbps coherent dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology, which is upgradeable to 400Gbps.

Subpartners' APX-West, meanwhile, will be 4,500km long, with two fibre pairs providing a minimum of 10Tbps capacity per pair and two-way data transmission. Telstra, SubPartners, and Singtel entered a memorandum of understanding a year ago to construct the high-capacity Perth to Singapore subsea cable, with completion expected by 2018.

Originally a 50-50 joint-venture deal between Vocus and Nextgen Networks, the 4,600km ASC cable will also connect Perth with Singapore and Indonesia, with completion set for August 2018 at a cost of $170 million. A deal signed between Vocus and Nextgen Networks in November 2015 pinned the cost of the cable at around $120 million.

Vocus subsequently purchased Nextgen Networks for AU$700 million in June, with Vocus and Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks in December signing an agreement to build the ASC, which is designed to carry 40Tbps at a minimum.

Trident, APX-West, and the ASC are all aimed at replacing the slower-speed SMW3 cable, which currently carries data traffic between Australia and Singapore.

Vocus also owns the NWCS following its purchase of Nextgen Networks, which was activated by Nextgen Group and Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks in September last year. The $139 million 2,100km fibre-optic submarine cable connects Darwin and Port Headland, and has been integrated into Nextgen's 17,000km land-based transmission network and Metronode's datacentres across Australia, also connecting to offshore oil and gas facilities.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, the 30Tbps, 14,000km Hawaiki cable -- which finally commenced construction in April last year -- will connect Australia and New Zealand to Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States, with the option to extend to several South Pacific islands along the route via optical add/drop multiplexing nodes, by mid-2018.

The 10,000km FASTER subsea cable system will also connect the west coast of the United States with Asia, landing in Japan and consisting of six fibre pairs and making use of 10Gbps wave technology.

NEC also recently announced the completion of the 54Tbps APG subsea cable between China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore.

The 10,900km fibre-optic submarine cable is owned by a consortium of telecommunications carriers including China's China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile; Japan's NTT Communications; South Korea's KT Corporation and LG Uplus; Singapore's StarHub; Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom; Thailand's CAT; Malaysia's Global Transit Communications; and Vietnam's Viettel and VNPT.

Australia's incumbent telco Telstra acquired a 36,000km cable network system connecting China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines as part of purchasing Pacnet for $697 million in December 2014, and in May also announced the Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) 8,000km 100Gbps submarine cable system, made up of three fibre pairs, which will connect Singapore, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

Asia-Pacific fibre infrastructure company Superloop has also completed construction of its 1,728 fibre core Hong Kong subsea cable TKO Express, which connected Chai Wan on Hong Kong Island and Tseung Kwan O (TKO) Industrial Estate -- Hong Kong's new major hub for technology, datacentre, financial, and media companies, as well as submarine cable landing stations -- on the mainland.

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