Cable could cut timber company's costs

Auckland-based Carter Holt Harvey is pinning plenty on the lighting up of the Southern Cross cable, which provides a new broadband link between New Zealand, Australia and the US.

Auckland-based Carter Holt Harvey is pinning plenty on the lighting up of the Southern Cross cable, which provides a new broadband link between New Zealand, Australia and the US.

Shared services director Jeremy Fleming hopes the link will help the wood products company save money. He was speaking at an event in Auckland to mark the switching on of the cable last Wednesday.

"We would expect the cost of communications as a proportion of the cost of servicing our customers to drop, as it has done over the past two year," Fleming says.

Carter Holt, which is doing an increasing amount of business in Australia, needs its transtasman wide area network to operate at LAN speeds, says Fleming. The company's network, which ties into back office services in Auckland, has to provide exactly the same levels of service to offices and facilities anywhere in the two countries, whether in Perth or Invercargill.

"Reliability is an absolute key; 24 x 7 up-time is something we have to have," he says.

The company's single most important application is financial software SAP, which is accessed by all outposts of the organisation.

"If SAP is not available, Carter Holt is not working. It's vital for us to have an integrated supply chain; we're totally dependent on information systems."

Fleming calls the implementation of the 50% Telecom-owned Southern Cross cable a "great initiative" for the country. But he says the biggest proportion of the company's communications bill is for services within New Zealand.

"We're looking for continued investment from Telecom and other suppliers in their networks in-country as well as between countries."

Telecom is already considering what will come after Southern Cross, even though demand for capacity on top of the new link's 120Gbit/s (once fully implemented in 2001) isn't forecast for another two to three years.

Chief executive Theresa Gattung says the company will make a decision "in the next few months" about whether to invest in the laying of a further cable or to buy bandwidth from a future cable owner.

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