Vocus has declared the laying phase of the 4600km Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) as complete, saying on Monday the final splice was completed south-east of Singapore.
Running between Perth and Singapore, the giant new digital pipe is being pushed by the carrier as a pivotal increase in capacity between Australia and Asia because it will provide a second subsea cable to soak up internet traffic that now is often piped via the US.
The route out of Singapore, however, traverses shallower waters where subsea cable breakages are frequent.
“This final leg from Christmas Island to Singapore presented the greatest engineering and technical challenges and it’s a great credit to the team that we on track in final configuration phase,” said Vocus CEO Kevin Russell.
A major challenge for the rollout of the new cable has been dealing with shallow waters coming out of Singapore which is home to one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
The low water depths have required the dredging of a 10m deep trench “10km out from the cable station landing site and then through a horizontally bored pipe into shore” according to Vocus.
The laying of the ASC has also required two cable vessels rather than one, with the more difficult work assigned to Alcatel Submarine Networks cable-laying ship the Ile de Re task that performed deep dredging with a 40-tonne plough “to bury the ASC to minimise the risk of damage from shipping and other marine activities.”
The Vocus-backed ASC is the first of two new cables being laid from Perth to Singapore in an effort to address the current bottleneck caused by a single cable in the form of SEA-ME-WE3 that has suffered breakage and outages.
The route has been a major bottleneck for some time, since it is served only by one existing cable that is subject to increasingly frequent breakages and lengthy downtime.
Vocus has previously estimated that half of all internet traffic will eventually route via Perth into Asia.
With the laying phase “having been completed on time and without any delays” Vocus said its project team will now move to “full configuration mode with electrical and technology systems now being installed, configured and tested as part of a rigorous make-ready phase.”
Publication of the ‘ready for service’ date would follow satisfactory technical testing the carrier said.