Southern Cross Cables announces 100Gbps trial

Full rollout of 100Gbps equipment expected to start in 2015

The only international link cable out of New Zealand, Southern Cross Cable, has announced a successful trial of 100Gbps prototype transmission equipment – but it won’t be available for use to customers in the 2012 scheduled upgrade.

“It is very pleasing to see 100Gbps equipment operating some two years earlier than previously expected,” says Southern Cross sales and marketing director Ross Pfeffer in a statement. “While it is unlikely that we will be able to use the 100Gbps equipment for next year’s upgrade, it is going to be an option much sooner than we previously thought.”

Instead, the 2012 upgrade – the fifth since the twin cable system was built over ten years ago – will be based on 40Gbps equipment. “(This) will take our total network potential to a least 6 terabits per second (Tbps), some 25 times higher than the original design capacity of just 240 Gbps in 2000,” says Pfeffer.

He says the 100Gbps transmission equipment is likely to be deployed in 2015 and commercial life of the cable extended beyond 2025. In 2010 customer contracts were extended from 2020 to 2025.

Pfeffer says demand out of Australia and New Zealand is growing at an annual rate of 35 percent and the Southern Cross Cable is preparing for demand driven by government fibre broadband initiatives in both countries. The Southern Cross Cable is 50 percent owned by Telecom and, if structural separation is approved by its shareholders, will become an asset of Telecom Retail.

In the statement Pfeffer says he expects international capacity prices to decline, citing the competitive Australian market which has four cable systems. He defended the pricing for New Zealand customers.

“We will continue with our commitment to competition based pricing in all of our markets.While we are the only operator out of New Zealand, we set our NZ to US prices at levels no higher than our Australia to US prices. We will also continue to keep our Trans-Tasman prices at the same level as our Hawaii-US prices, another market in which competition is well entrenched.”

The 28,500km twin cable, which has six fibres and 500 repeaters, was constructed at a cost exceeding US$1.4 billion.

A rival cable system being developed by Pacific Fibre is expected to be operational in 2014 at a cost of US$400 million. Pacific Fibre has signed up REANNZ as a foundation customer and, if it makes a deal to partner with Kordia’s cable project Optikor, it could expect Kordia (including Orcon) to also sign up.

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