Australia awards A$136m subsea cable contract to Vocus
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 construction.
"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 build period.