Multicountry cable vital for Telstra's 'Net services

A key part of Telstra's future strategy clicked into place last week with the landing of the SEA-ME-WE 3 international undersea cable on Perth's Floreat Beach. Telstra has an 80% stake in the southern segment of the $2 billion cable system and the company says it will be 'imperative' to Telstra's ability to handle the growing demand for data and Internet traffic.

Australian telecom carrier Telstra's stake in the Southeast Asia, Middle East and Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE 3) cable system strengthened last week with the landing of the $A2 billion international undersea cable on Perth's Floreat Beach.

According to officials, Telstra has an 80% stake in the southern segment of the SEA-ME-WE 3 cable which will stretch 37,000 kilometers across 33 countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe. The southern segment encompasses 5,000 kilometers between Perth and Singapore.

Officials said that early last week the cable was spliced into an undersea cable which will link Perth to Jakarta and Singapore.

Once operational in late 1999, the SEA-ME-WE 3 cable will satisfy all commercial traffic needs including phone, fax and data traffic from residential and corporate customers, Telstra officials said.

More importantly however, the SEA-ME-WE cable is "imperative" to Telstra's ability to handle the growing demand for data and Internet traffic, officials said.

According to officials, Telstra's predictions that Internet and data traffic will outstrip voice traffic by 2000 were surpassed in the international market as early as 1998. With the belief that domestic data and Internet traffic is expected to follow suit, investment in the SEA-WE-ME 3 cable was crucial to Telstra's Internet and interactive services, officials said.

"Voice traffic remains a priority for Telstra, but a growing Internet focus means that Telstra's local Internet traffic will exceed voice traffic within the next few years, as it already has internationally," Lawrence Paratz, head of Telstra's network and IT infrastructure said. "Telstra has joined a global consortium of more than 90 companies because it makes good business sense to share infrastructure costs with overseas partners."

Telstra is also involved in other undersea cable systems, including the $A120 million Jusuraus cable system and the China-U.S. cable which together with the SEA-ME-WE 3 cable "will provide Australia with capacity west into Europe, north into Asia and east into the U.S.," officials said.

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