Home Networking Vocus and Nextgen signed up for the Australia Singapore Cable (ASC)


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Growing first tier telecoms player Vocus has joined with Nextgen to build a telecommunications submarine cable between Australia and Singapore, which is set to increase existing capacity ten fold.

“It’s a very exciting project,” said James Spenceley, CEO of Vocus. “It’s a new cable that will increase the capacity we have from Australia to South East Asia by ten fold.”

The US$120million project due to start early 2016, will take approximately eighteen months to complete, following finalisation of regulatory approvals and other conditions.

The 50/50 joint venture will be funded using a mix of cash, project debt and customer pre-sales.

Undersea cables, laid on the very bottom of the ocean floor, transport nearly 100% of transoceanic data traffic.

Only the thickness of a garden hose, these cables carry Australia’s internet, phone calls and even TV transmissions to and from other continents at the speed of light.

A single cable can carry tens of terabits of information per second.

The ASC project will lay 4,600km of undersea cable to connect Australia to Singapore and Indonesia, providing the first 100Gbit/s high-speed connection from Australia to South-East Asia.

Spenceley explained how the deal came about. “We’re a 10% owner of the SEA-ME-WE 3 cable from Perth to Singapore and that’s been in high demand with our larger international and domestic customers.

“We could have sold it five times over the demand is so strong. We also knew Nextgen had been working on cable projects for a long time. Its technology was more developed than competing technologies and it had done the marine surveys. It was ready to press Go.

“In discussions with David Yuile, Nextgen managing director, we worked out that by combining our resources we’d have a good chance of delivering the network."

Nextgen CEO David Yuile said Vocus was an ideal partner in the project because the company already had capacity on several existing international cables, including SEA-ME-WE-3.

“Our new cable will provide a high-speed, low latency path to Singapore and Jakarta, both key growth markets and IT centres. It will also be very beneficial for the WA economy, particularly the resource sector, providing direct connectivity to the Asia Pacific region,” he said.

“In a broader context, the project is important nationally as it will add value to available telecommuncations infrastructure and provide subsea cable diversity for governments and businesses around the country.”

Nextgen has already committed millions of dollars in infrastructure spend in the WA region, with construction on its $US150 North West Cable submarine project, connecting the off-shore mining platforms in the Browse, Canarvon and Bonaparte Basins from Port Hedland to Darwin, due for completion in mid-2016.

The proposal remains subject to certain conditions, including completion of due diligence and regulatory approval, which are expected to be formalised in the coming months. French company Alcatel-Lucent is contracted to drop the cable off the ship.
Undersea cable systems may sound to some like a thing of the past but, fiber-optic cables are actually state-of-the-art global communications technologies. Since they use light to encode information and remain unfettered by weather, cables carry data faster and cheaper than satellites.


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