$15m for international link back on the table

REANNZ re-introduces trans-Pacific cable tender

REANNZ, the organisation that runs the KAREN science and education broadband network, has revived a $15 million-or-more tendering exercise for capacity on a new trans-Pacific cable.

Crown funding of $15 million for such a link was approved by the previous government in the 2008 Budget, but shortly after the change of government, REANNZ “wrote to the minister [ICT Minister Steven Joyce] advising him that we did not recommend investing the funds at that time, but were still supportive of the policy”, says REANNZ chief executive Donald Clark.

“In the second half of last year, REANNZ wrote to the minister again with the view that the market conditions around additional international cable seemed good, and recommended he again consider investing the $15 million,” he says.

REANNZ expects to have to top up the Crown contribution from its own funds.

The network access policy confining use of KAREN to science, education and innovation only applies to the current network supply within New Zealand, Clark says, “The international circuits for KAREN have always been contracted on a basis of unrestricted use. That is the nature of the market.

“As part of this RFP exercise, we wish to expose whether there is any difference in pricing from the supply market for more or less restricted access options. This will allow us to make a ‘best value’ assessment,” he says.

He does not see bandwidth available for core KAREN uses being degraded by the availability of unrestricted access on the international link “There are very many options for controlling traffic on networks: who you connect, contractual arrangements, technical controls and so on. That is a large topic,” he says.

Responses to the RFP are only being considered from candidates who gave satisfactory replies to a request for information document issued last year, but the RFP document was briefly online on the GETS government tendering website. This took place to satisfy “public disclosure” requirements, says REANNZ deputy operations manager Richard Stephen.

REANNZ’s international capacity is currently provided by TelstraClear, but this contract expires in August 2014.

The RFP states that;“REANNZ is therefore looking to procure long-term, low cost high capacity, ongoing international connectivity services either shortly before, or from [that] date that [will] allow the advanced network community to continue to exchange information and collaborate internationally, in a manner and to a standard that ideally exceeds the status quo.”

The planned transmission path will have exit points in the US – either Los Angeles, Sunnyvale in California or Seattle – in Sydney and in New Zealand “at an existing open provider Point of Presence (PoP), or at a KAREN core PoP”. This opens the possibility of routing diversity outside KAREN’s present international link-point in Auckland.

End-to-end wavelength connectivity of not less than 10 Gbit/s.

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