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Vocus signs Alcatel-Lucent to build the Australia Singapore Cable

The Vocus cable connecting Perth and Singapore will now be completed by August 2018 at a revised cost of $170 million.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Vocus and Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks have put pen to paper on the agreements to build the Australia Singapore Cable (ASC), a 4,600 kilometre link designed to carry 40Tbps at a minimum.

The cable is expected to be used for at least 25 years, with completion of the cable set for August 2018 at a cost of $170 million. A deal signed between Vocus and Nextgen Networks in November last year pinned the cost at around $120 million with construction slated to begin in early 2016.

Vocus subsequently purchased Nextgen Networks for AU$700 million in June this year.

"ASC was a key strategic consideration in Vocus' decision to purchase Nextgen Networks, as it, in combination with Nextgen's trans-Australian fibre network, creates a fully interconnected, high capacity fibre network owned by Vocus from the East Coast of Australia through to Singapore (via Perth), with direct connectivity into Indonesia (population 230m+)," Vocus said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Demand for data capacity on the ASC route is growing rapidly and the only other comparable cable system is nearing full capacity. This growth in data consumption, particularly in the Asian region, places ASC in a strong position given it is the most progressed new cable project on this route."

The cost of the cable would be funded by debt, cash flow, and expected customer prepayments of approximately $100 million, the company said.

The telco touted its landing agreement with Indonesian telco XL that gives coverage via XL's 21,000km domestic transmission network.

The ASC is one of three subsea cables currently being built between Australia and Singapore, alongside the Trident Subsea Cable and SubPartners' APX-West cable. In July, Trident announced it had selected Equinix's International Business Exchange datacentres in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, and Jakarta for its Asia-Pacific points of presence. In March, Telstra, SubPartners, and Singtel agreed to construct the 4,500km 20Tbps Perth to Singapore APX-West cable.

In September, Nextgen and Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks announced the switching on of the $139 million North West Cable System, a 2,100km fibre-optic submarine cable between Darwin and Port Headland.

"High-speed connectivity has now emerged as a vital component to operate any business regardless of geographical location, be it 200km offshore or in remote and regional Australia," then Nextgen Group CEO David Yuile said at the time.

"The completion of the NWCS is a significant milestone for the Nextgen Group, and will deliver a digital dividend to Australia's resources sector and to regional communities in Australia's North West," he added.

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