21 June 2018
| Natalie Bannerman
Vocus Communications, the Australian operator, has won a A$136.6 million contract from the Australian government to build its new international subsea cable.
The new submarine system will connect Solomon Islands, Papua
New Guinea and Australia, with landing points in Port Moresby
the capital of Papua New Guinea, Honiara the capital of the
Solomon Islands and in Sydney.
"We are pleased to build on our strong relationship with the
Federal Government and undertake this critical infrastructure
project on their behalf," said Kevin Russell, managing director
of Vocus Group. "In this digital age, we all rely heavily on
access to fast, reliable and affordable connectivity. Extending
this to our international neighbours for the first time will
provide significant economic and social benefits."
Australia will majority-fund the new cable with an
additional co-contribution from Papua New Guinea and Solomon
Islands. A completion timeframe of late 2019 has been set for
"Australia's strong support for this project is a reflection
of our enduring commitment to the Pacific, where we work with
partners to support the region's stability, security and
prosperity," said Julie Bishop, Australia’s
Minister for Foreign Affairs. "World Bank research estimates
improved internet access and connectivity could grow GDP by
more than US$5 billion and create close to 300,000 new jobs in
the Pacific by 2040."
Previously Huawei Marine, in
conjunction with parent company Huawei, was contracted by the
Soloman Islands to build its first 2.5Tb, 4000km submarine
cable connecting Sydney to its capital Honiara with further
links from Honiara to Auki and Noro.
The deal was scuppered when Australia agreed to join the
Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to build the new
cable. According to ABC, the deal was ended with Huawei
because of "concerns raised" by Australia and that Australian
intelligence agencies never wanted the Solomon Islands to allow
Chinese company Huawei to build the link, and were keen to
prevent it happening.
The news comes after the company was chosen along with Alcatel
Submarine Networks to build the Australia-Singapore Cable which
will link Perth to Singapore via Jakarta and Christmas
Island. Vocus aims to take the four-pair fibre cable, which
will deliver a minimum of 40Tbps, live by July 2018. The
deployment will boost the company’s fibre network
to 21,000km. The ASC project is expected to cost $170m over the
Papua New Guinea,