Fourth subsea data cable for Tasmania edges closer

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Fourth subsea data cable for Tasmania edges closer

Feasibility explored for fourth connection to mainland.

The business case for a fourth subsea telecommunications cable connecting Tasmania to the mainland is firming after an investigation found it “likely to deliver significantly increased capacity” to the island state.

The construction of a new cable is being considered as part of the Marinus Link project, which is being jointly funded by TasNetworks and the federal government.

Like Basslink before it, the project is primarily for an electricity interconnector cable connecting Tasmania and Victoria’s electricity grids.

However, a telecommunications cable could also be included on the route, allowing the electricity interconnector to be monitored, as well as to carry internet traffic.

TasNetworks said in its initial feasibility study [pdf] earlier this year that the telecommunications cable could be deployed at an “incremental cost”, though it was described only as an “opportunity” at that point.

As first reported by the Advocate, it appears the business case for a new telecommunications cable is firming, with a detailed assessment expected by the end of the year.

“The potential benefits have been investigated further and are likely to deliver significantly increased capacity via additional optical fibre across Bass Strait,” a TasNetworks spokesperson said.

“There will be quite a bit more information provided in our upcoming business case assessment report due for release in December 2019”.

Tasmania is presently connected to the mainland via three subsea internet cables, one operated by Basslink and two by Telstra.

The state has courted the possible entry of a third operator - and fourth cable - for some time.At one point it appeared that SubPartners - now INDIGO - would be that operator, but a deal with the state government was never reached.

Internet capacity in and out of Tasmania is still charged at a premium compared to terrestrial inter-capital routes. 

Vodafone recently called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to look at lowering the premiums.

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