Australia, New Zealand and US to link up with underwater fibre optics

Australia, New Zealand, and the US may soon be linked up with new fibre-optic cables built underwater.

The plan was announced today by Hong-Kong-based Pacnet and New Zealand’s Pacific Fibre, who are teaming up to build the underwater lines connecting the three countries with expectations that it will be fully operational by 2013.

The connection will span 13,600 kilometers and will connect the cities of Sydney, Auckland and Los Angeles. The cable will include at least two fibre pairs, with 64 wavelengths each. Each wavelength will be capable of delivering 40Gb/s, which means the entire cable could deliver up to 5.12Tb/s speeds which the companies believe could even be upgraded to over 12Tb/s when 100Gb/s wavelength speeds come on the market, delivering lightning fast internet speeds.

The cost will be $400 million and the two companies will be hiring an outside firm to build the new cable for them. Currently they are still deciding on who this will be. Each company will own one of the two separate fibre pairs, but will share responsibility for the cable as a whole should maintenance and repairs be required.

“As Australia and New Zealand look towards deploying national broadband networks that will raise broadband penetration and access speeds, this new cable that we are building with Pacific Fibre will deliver the enhanced international connectivity that is essential to support these broadband initiatives,” said Bill Barney, CEO of Pacnet. “This investment is also an integral part of our overall strategy to expand our subsea cable infrastructure into the Australasia region, to complement our pan-Asian and Trans-Pacific network coverage and boost broadband connectivity into Asia.”

Mark Rushworth, CEO of Pacific Fibre, said that there is a need for new fibre-optic cables servicing Australia and New Zealand. He commented that he has every faith in Pacnet’s ability as a partner in this venture and revealed that it has already cut costs for the project from earlier estimations.

A similar venture was made in 2008 called Unity when Pacnet funded a 10,000 kilometre cable connection between Japan and the US, which included five fibre pairs and cost $300 million. This was a highly successful project, suggesting that this latest effort could also be worth the investment.