Waiuku favoured for Tasman cable landing

Kordia partner Pipe Networks expected to make statement to ASX today

Waiuku, south-west of Auckland, is likely to be the landing site of a new trans-Tasman cable, should Kordia and its partner Pipe Networks win a tender for the project.

Early speculation held that a landing site near Wellington was likely, but Computerworld confirmed last week that Waiuku is now favoured.

“It’s in that general area,” Kordia’s CEO Geoff Hunt says. He says the site is reasonably distant from other cables, one of the requirements of the tender issued by Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (REANNZ), and is also independent from Auckland’s electricity supply.

However, the cable project was thrown into disarray last week when Kordia’s partner Pipe called a trading halt on the Australian Securities Exchange following a failure to secure finance from ANZ and Westpac to complete its ambitious PPC-1 Pacific cable project.

On December 2, when Pipe warned the ASX funding for its project might be conditional, Kordia said it remained confident the trans-Tasman cable would go ahead.

However, Hunt’s tone after last week’s news was more subdued.

“We are looking with interest at what they have to say over the next few days,” he says. “We’ve talked to Pipe and have no other information. We hope they’ll be able to work through it. If not we will look for other partners.”

Hunt says the project is commercially viable and he fully expects it to go ahead.

Pipe Networks was due to make a further announcement last week, but then requested an extension from the ASX until today while its funding negotiations continued.

REANNZ, which operates the advanced research network KAREN, was appointed to lead the charge on the cable after discussions with the Ministry of Research Science and Technology, the Ministry of Economic Development and Treasury and approval from former minister of communications David Cunliffe.

REANNZ CEO Donald Clark told Computerworld in October that it is expected the capacity needs of the education and research community will grow more quickly than that of the private sector and government asked REANNZ if it would use its demand to support the government policy goal of increased network resilience. That will involve it becoming the anchor tenant of a new cable build.

He said that if he had had any discussions or indications from National about the project, he wouldn’t comment on them. REANNZ, he says, is backing a 2008 Budget commitment to improve the resilience of the trans-Tasman link. As part of Budget, the government committed $15 million to improving trans-Tasman connectivity.

National’s position on the project remains unclear but former ICT spokesman Maurice Williamson indicated support for a second cable in a recent TVNZ 7 debate and said Kordia’s proposal looked “damn good”.

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Tags reannzKordiaNetworking & Telecomms IDPipe Networks

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