“Wait and see” is the Telecom strategy for Project Oxygen, says international services manager Tony Briscow.
The ambitious project, which was announced by New Jersey-based telecomms firm CTR group in the US earlier this year, plans to wrap the world in 320,000km of fibre-optic cable by 2003, providing 265 landings in 171 countries with a minimum bandwidth of 320Gbit/s, using ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) technology. It is expected to cost about $US14 billion.
“We are really only observing from a distance at the moment,” says Briscow. “Firstly, it is a very ambitious project and, secondly, we are currently actively putting in the Southern Cross [fibre-optic cabling] project, which will more than provide international access for the long term and the short term.”
When asked as to the likelihood of the project taking off, Briscow suggests that “getting into a seamless network would be an advantage. How much of an advantage remains to be seen. Essentially Oxygen is trying to balance the traffic to cope with increased Internet traffic. It is basically positioning itself for future Net requirements.”
The scope of the project is seen by Briscow to be the biggest problem. He cites the fact that the cable maintenance fleet required for the system will need three times as many ships for carrying out undersea maintenance as there are in the world at the moment. The overall bill for the fleet is likely to be in excess of $US20 billion, more than the actual cost of the scheme itself.
The geographical logic of the architects also seems to be questionable, with the New Zealand landing being situated in Invercargill.