TelstraClear has spent nearly $10 million to upgrade its network, including a massive boost to two undersea links, between Wellington and Kaikoura, and Kaikoura and Christchurch.
Chief operating officer Kevin Millar says the 40Gbit/s intercity connection is the first of its kind in New Zealand and is “state of the art” worldwide.
Before the upgrade, it had just 2.5Gbit/s capacity.
The 40Gbit/s link between Wellington and Christchurch follows two paths, one on land the other by sea. The single longest unrepeated fibre span is around 200 kilometres long.
The link provides two significant benefits – back up for TelstraClear’s Next IP network customers and increased capacity as demand for broadband continues to sky rocket, the company says.
“40Gbit/s is pretty much today’s fastest production system,” Millar says.
“The next step is 100Gbit/s and you will see that in trials, but for now 40Gbit/s is state of the art.”
Millar compares such upgrades to changing the engines on a 747 in mid flight, as customers are using the network while the upgrade is underway.
“The hard part was not impacting on customers,” he says.
“That’s one of the reasons why it takes so long.”
He says some “very large customers” are on the network using hundreds of megabits or even gigabits of capacity. Added to that is the aggregate traffic of small and medium sized businesses and home users, he adds.
Broadband demand comprises around 80% of network traffic, a 400% increase in three years. Demand shows no signs of abating, TelstraClear says.
Millar says the upgrade means TelstraClear can now manage exponential traffic growth indefinitely because it has new fibre strands and can light up new wavelengths and add further electronics to the network.
He says the undersea loops, dubbed Aqualink, are one part of the project the team is proudest of. He says the upgrade quadrupled the bandwidth on the links and doubled the distance between optical repeaters to 200 kilometres.
“We have been dealing with new technology and breaking new barriers throughout the upgrade,” Millar says.
As part of the year-long project TelstraClear has also lifted the core network from 2.5Gbit/s to 10Gbit/s capacity. “This allows us to meet the current and anticipated demands on bandwidth and ensure that the Next IP network continues to provide what we consider the best broadband experience for New Zealanders,” Millar says.
The final phase of the project will see the metro ring around inner Christchurch upgraded from 1G to 10G and it is anticipated to be finished by the end of July.