Southern Cross asks for quotes for new Pacific cable build

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Southern Cross asks for quotes for new Pacific cable build

Ocean survey completed, found shorter route and unknown shipwreck.

Southern Cross Cable Network has issued a request for quotes for the build of its 60 terabit per second NEXT trans Pacific circuit, following the successful completion of an ocean floor survey.

The NEXT cable will complement the existing SCCN network, and is budgeted to cost US$350 million.

British company EGS undertook an ocean floor survey for SCCN in February this year, mapping 15,000 kilometres of seabed from Clovelly to Hermosa Beach by Los Angeles.

The EGS survey ship stumbled across an unidentified shipwreck in the waters 37 kilometres off the coast of Sydney. The location of the wreck has been provided to the New South Wales Office of the Environment and Heritage.

EGS was also able to bring the project closer to the orthodromic distance, or shortest theoretical path, between its two end points.

As a result the cable will be routed via Wallis and Futuna instead of through waters around Tonga, which shaves off a single millisecond in latency.

Capacity pre-sales efforts by Southern Cross have resulted in eight customers signing letters of intent, including Fiji, Samoa, Tokelau and Kiribati. 

The original US$1.3 billion Southern Cross Cable connecting Australia and New Zealand to the west coast of the United States entered service in 2000-2001.

With the three fibre pairs and a 100Gbps optical transmission technology upgrade as a result of the new circuit, the cable will have a total capacity of 12.8Tbps.

Although the Southern Cross Cable was originally to be decommissioned by 2025, the operators now believe it will be serviceable for decades longer.

The company faces competition from the Hawaiki Cable system currently under construction. Once complete next year it will offer 43.8Tbps between Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

The Tasman Global Access (TGA) cable between Sydney and Raglan in New Zealand, owned by Vodafone New Zealand, Spark and Telstra, has already entered service.

New Zealand telco incumbent Spark owns half of the Southern Cross Cable Network, with Singtel-Optus having a two-fifths share, and the business arm of US telco Verizon the final tenth.

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