Submarine cable services between Australia and NZ in the spotlight again

The duplication of a fibre-optic submarine cable connection between Australia and New Zealand has been a topical discussion piece for a number of years now. The current Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN), has two fully diverse cables and was completed back in 2001. It links Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, California, Fiji, with an offshoot to Tonga set to be completed in 2013. Its original cost was more than US$1.3 billion. The useful life of the cable will be at least to 2025.

Since 2010 there have been talks of a second cable ranging from a proposal from Pacific Fibre, with an estimated cost of NZ$500-NZ$900 million linking Australia, New Zealand and the US. Then in 2012 a proposal from Hawaiki Cable aiming yet again to link Auckland and Sydney, the Pacific Islands and Hawaii.

In February 2013 three companies Telecom NZ, Vodafone NZ and Telstra signed a memorandum of understanding that would aim to see the construction of a new submarine cable linking Auckland and Sydney. The estimated cost would be around US$60 million and the cable would contain three fibre pairs with an initial design capacity of 30TB/s and be completed by end-2014. According to the companies this would be around 300 times the current internet data demand leaving New Zealand.

But with bandwidth demand currently estimated to be growing from 30%-50% annually, data consumption will only continue to increase. Then add the Ultra-Fast Broadband Network (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) projects. When these projects are fully completed by 2019 and 2016 for the RBI, this will add further increasing demands on the submarine cable(s) for data including cloud-hosted streaming, IPTV and storage backups by consumer and businesses located across New Zealand.

Meanwhile, since the discussions of additional cables that would provide New Zealand additional international submarine access routes, the cost of current data access continues to fall. In 2013 access pricing fell by another 20%.

For more information on the companies and the existing submarine network, see separate reports:

or see our recently compiled annual compilation

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