A 2,288 km fiber optic cable between New Zealand and Australia is officially in service.
The $100 million Tasman Global Access cable runs from Ngarunui Beach in Raglan to Narrabeen Beach in Sydney and will carry vast quantities of internet traffic between the two countries.
Figure 7 - TGA Cable Map
The project is a joint venture between Spark, Vodafone and Telstra, which want to strengthen diversity and resiliency within the country's telecommunications infrastructure.
The cable has been constructed to deliver more international bandwidth and capacity for New Zealand and also serves as a digital link to fast-growing Asian economic markets by enabling better connectivity to the five major international cable systems currently serving Australia.
Spark, Vodafone and Telstra all expressed their pleasure with the project's successful completion.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges said the cable provided greater capacity in the system, reducing the risk of bottlenecks and enabling faster, better internet for consumers, particularly when content is being streamed from overseas. It also provided greater competition in New Zealand's cable market.
"This cable is another step towards ensuring we've got affordable and robust connections with the rest of the world. It also ensures that domestic demands for data are supported by international capacity, setting us up for the future," he said.
The cable is comprised of two fiber pairs, has a total design capacity of 20 terabits per second and has 20 repeaters which are used to amplify the optical signals along the length of the cable.
It was laid by the Alcatel Submarine Networks "Ile de Ré" cable-laying ship.
Source: New Zealand Herald
ANALYSIS: It has taken more than four years for three major telcos, with a vast amount of experience in building submarine fiber optic cables, to construct this relatively simple point-to-point system between New Zealand and Australia.
The tender for turnkey supply of the system was issued in June 2013 and awarded to Alcatel Submarine Networks (now Nokia ASN) in December 2014 but four months earlier, it was announced that Telstra had pulled out of the partnership. Clearly, Telstra was eventually persuaded to return to the fold but construction work on the project did not commence until March 2016.
It is highly likely that Telstra's skittishness was related to the interest that Spark NZ (formerly the incumbent, Telecom New Zealand) has in the Tasman Global Access cable and the Southern Cross cable system.
Southern Cross has operated a virtual monopoly on transpacific connectivity from New Zealand since 2000. With a figure-of-eight design, Southern Cross successfully argued for many years that it could provide all the resiliency that New Zealand needed. Furthermore, the Management were careful to benchmark their pricing of international bandwidth against trends in Australia and, when any new competing cable was proposed, they cut their prices to undermine the new cable's business case.
Given that New Zealand is a relatively small market, Vodafone and Telstra could not justify another transpacific cable and chose instead to build across the Tasman Sea to connect to the submarine cable hub in Sydney, Australia. However, for reasons unknown, there was a delay in putting the contract with ASN into force.
Southern Cross' reaction to Tasman Global Access has been to announce a new lowest latency transpacific cable called "NEXT" which will connect Clovelly, NSW, Australia; Whenuapai, Auckland, New Zealand; and Los Angeles, CA, USA. Priced at US$350M, this cable is planned to be ready for service in 2019. NEXT is a direct challenge to Tasman Global Access which will not be able to compete for transpacific business on latency.
Julian Rawle, Author
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