"The 450 page [tender] document reflects the considerable work we have put into the design and configuration of the cable system and provides the basis of the contract which we expect to execute with a selected vendor in the third quarter this year."
This is somewhat behind schedule. Pacific Fibre CEO Mark Rushworth told ExchangeDaily in January that an RFP for building the system was expected to go out at the end of January or early February, and a contract to be signed in March.
Rushworth said today that the agreement with Pacnet had expired earlier this year. "A joint build Memorandum of Understanding expired earlier this year, freeing us to move ahead more quickly. We have been assuming a solo-build system for several months now and remain firmly on track to finance and deliver the system in 2013. Our proposed design greatly expands capacity for carriers and multi national businesses, and provides much needed diversity for the region."
Rushworth hinted in January at changes in Pacnet's involvement in the project. He told ExchangeDaily that it was yet to be determined whether Pacnet would be responsible for raising the funding for its half of the system. "We are still working on the best way to do that. We may go and raise the whole funding and then Pacnet will pay us on agreed project milestones."
Pacnet announced its involvement in the project in July 2010, saying that it could lead to an expansion of the planned system. Pacnet CEO, Bill Barney, said: "We are at the point where we have agreed to fund the cable but there could still be changes in design: we could add branches in some places. Those are small and inexpensive changes'¦Our cables typically have four to eight fibre pairs, with some providing what we call an express route in that they do not have drop off points along the way."
The two companies said that the model they had adopted would allow them to complement each other's expertise and resources while reducing costs and risks, and had been proven through a number of successful precedents including the $US300m Unity cable connecting Japan and the US, where Pacnet was the largest investor with ownership of two of the five fibre pairs.
Certainly Pacific Fibre would have been able to benefit from Pacnet's considerable experience in building and operating submarine cable systems. However in February Pacific Fibre announced that it had hired former Pacnet executive Mike Constable "to run the RFP process, negotiate with vendors and lead the build of the cable system." He is a 16 veteran of the industry who, at Pacnet played the key role in developing and implementing the Unity /EAC Pacific cable and led Pacnet's vendor engagement on the West Asia Crossing cable, which will connect Singapore and India.
You can read more stories on telecommunications in our newsletter ExchangeDaily, click here to sign up for a free trial...