Telstra to build two digital infra projects in Australia for $1.6bn

Telstra to build two digital infra projects in Australia for $1.6bn

Andrew Penn.jpg

Telstra will build two major telecoms infrastructure projects in support of Australia's growing digital economy.

The two projects are comprised of building and managing the ground infrastructure and fibre network in Australia for satellite company Viasat. Specifically, in support of the new ViaSat-3 terabit-class global satellite system as part of the 16.5-year contract.

The second project is a major new fibre project to build inter-city dual fibre paths, adding up to 20,000km of new routes to increase the capacity of Telstra’s optical fibre network.

“Investing in these two truly significant nation-building projects will see us continue to have the largest inter-city fibre network in the country, helping to future proof Australia’s digital economy and further improving connectivity in regional Australia,” said Andrew Penn (pictured),  CEO of Telstra.

Telstra says that it plans to invest between $1.4-1.6 billion in addition to its business as usual spend, over the next five years. It expects to invest up to 70% of this across its T25 planning period (the company's plan for growth and enhanced customer experiences), or an additional $350 million in investment a year between FY23 to FY25.

The news comes shortly after telecoms entrepreneur Bevan Slattery unveiled Soda, his new launchpad for investments in Australia’s digital infrastructure and sustainability.

Organised into three pillars, one division known as SODA Infrastructure, s focused on the development and investment in Australia’s digital infrastructure and in the Indo-Pacific region and includes the company's own HyperOne, Australia’s new 20,000km hyperscale digital backbone which began construction in December 2021.

Slattery took to LinkedIn to on hearing the news of Telstra's new projects hinting at the fact that Telstra might be copying HyperOne, saying, "This is something knew would happen and recently knew was happening. We knew Telstra would look to overbuild us."

"Our reaction? Keep building. There is something bigger here. Something Telstra won't do. That's enable competition."

Specifically, the Viasat project will see Telstra co-locate Viasat’s satellite access node (SAN) equipment at hundreds of sites across Australia and will build and manage high-speed fibre links to each site. The network will connect the SAN sites to multiple redundant data centres that will house the core networking equipment.

“Telstra is a trusted, well-respected organisation with impressive infrastructure assets in Asia and an extensive fibre network. By leveraging their existing infrastructure for our ground network, we can cost-effectively optimise our satellite assets and significantly lower our risk of deployment and operations for the ViaSat-3 terabit-class satellite system," said Dave Ryan, president of Viasat’s space and commercial networks.

"We remain focussed on delivering advanced connectivity – from mobility and government services to connecting hard-to-reach communities – across the region.”

Viasat's three global ViaSat-3 satellites have an initial design capacity of 1Tbps to deliver data and video streaming speeds of more than 150Mbps.

Telstra’s new fibre project is set to accelerate the company's investment in the growth of InfraCo – Telstra's infrastructure company, while at the same time creating connectivity between cities as well as improved regional connectivity.

The 20,000km of high-speed connectivity will deliver transmission rates of up to 650Gbps, as well as express connectivity between capital cities up to 55Tbps per fibre pair capacity on routes such as Sydney to Melbourne; Sydney to Brisbane; and Perth to Sydney.

“This will support remote working and education needs, health services, high-definition entertainment consumption and online gaming, and IoT use cases such as mining and agriculture,” added Penn.

“We’re already seeing connection speeds on the current network surge from 100GB to 400GB and beyond through our investments to date. There is growing demand for greater fibre capacity, enabling massive bandwidth and ultrafast data rates with lower latency. The time for delivering the infrastructure to support this is now.”

With construction due to begin in late FY22, early stage trial and test deployments are already underway. At the same time, discussions with key anchor customers are progressing, including with global hyperscalers, local telecoms providers and construction partners.

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