Telstra joins subsea cable race to Singapore

Two competing subsea cables are set to be built between Perth and Singapore after Vocus Communications finalised construction contracts this week, coinciding with a Telstra-led consortium striking an agreement with the same builder.

Telstra joins subsea cable race to Singapore

Two competing subsea cables are set to be built between Perth and Singapore after Vocus Communications finalised construction contracts this week, coinciding with a Telstra-led consortium striking an agreement with the same builder.

French company Alcatel Submarine Networks will build both cables.

The Telstra consortium, which includes Google, Optus parent Singtel, AARNET, Indosat Ooredoo and SubPartners (which was today acquired by ASX-listed Superloop), will build the Indigo cable system connecting Singapore to Perth and onwards to Sydney using a two-fibre pair open cable design that will have a minimum capacity of 18 terabits per second.

The Indigo cable will span about 9,000 kilometres, and will branch fibre pairs connecting to Singapore and Jakarta.

The new cable will land in existing facilities in Singapore, Australia and Indonesia.

“With internet data consumption growing by 70 per cent in Asia last year alone, these sorts of investments in international networks are critical for meeting the needs of connected consumers and businesses,” Telstra managing director of global services and international David Burns said.

“This will be an important piece of technology infrastructure connecting South-East Asia and Australia, and follows a number of recent enhancements Telstra has undertaken to meet growing demand and better connectivity from our customers across the Asia Pacific region.”

A specific cost to build the infrastructure was not disclosed, however Telstra later said it was worth several hundred million dollars.

The Indigo cable is expected to be completed by mid-2019, and will be competing with Vocus’s $US170 million Perth-to-Singapore subsea cable, called the Australia Singapore Cable, which the telco has entered into contractual documentation with Alcatel for today.

Vocus will build a four fibre pair system, which will have a minimum capacity of 40 terabits per second, with the cable spanning 4,600km to link Australia to Singapore and Indonesia.

The two companies finalised contractual documentation for the ASC today, including the final technical specifications.

The cable will use existing Vocus infrastructure connecting Perth to Sydney, and is expected to be completed by August next year.

“We believe that the four fibre pair configuration establishes a major technical advantage over lower fibre count systems due to the underlying flexibility and reliability of this solution,” Vocus chief executive Geoff Horth said.

Vocus and Nextgen Group formed a joint venture to develop plans to construct the subsea cable in November 2015. Nextgen was acquired by Vocus last September.

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