Tuesday, 19 June 2018 17:05

Vocus gets contract to build sub-sea cable to Solomons, PNG Featured

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DFAT deputy secretary Penny Williams and Vocus Group managing director and chief executive Kevin Russell signing the contract. DFAT deputy secretary Penny Williams and Vocus Group managing director and chief executive Kevin Russell signing the contract. DFAT

In what should come as no surprise, the Federal Government has awarded the contract for building the sub-sea cable between Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Sydney to the Vocus Group.

In January, Vocus announced that it had entered into a deal with the Federal Government to undertake a scoping study on design, construction and procurement for the cable system.

The deal was originally awarded to Chinese firm Huawei Telecommunications. The Solomon Islands then changed its mind after the intervention of the spy agency, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. Australian taxpayers will foot most of the $200 million cost of the cable, with the Solomons and the PNG making small contributions.

In a statement on Tuesday, Vocus Group said the sub-sea cable would use advanced multi-terabit technology to improve the Papua New Guinea's international connectivity and introduce high-speed international telecommunications cables to the Solomon Islands.

An agreement on the first stage of the cable was signed last week by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Solomons counterpart, Rick Houenipwela. The cable is due to be completed in late 2019.

cable map

The Australian Government has also contracted Vocus to build a domestic sub-sea network within the Solomon Islands, to extend the benefits of the cable beyond Honiara to the outer provinces where the majority of the Solomon Islands population lives.

Vocus Group managing director and chief executive Kevin Russell said: “We are pleased to build on our strong relationship with the Federal Government and undertake this critical infrastructure project on their behalf.

"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.

“Our recent experience constructing world-class domestic fibre infrastructure, including the sub-marine North-West Cable System and Australia Singapore Cable, means Vocus is extremely well placed to partner with the Federal Government to complete this important project."

Some background:

  • The landing points for the project are Port Moresby, Honiara and Sydney.
  • The first phase included a scoping study and consultation with external stakeholders, including the governments of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
  • A comprehensive program of survey, manufacture and deployment activities will now commence.
  • The Vocus network connects Australia and New Zealand to Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States.
  • It is one of Australia’s most connected networks, with more than 30,000km of fibre connecting more than 5000 buildings.
  • The North-West Cable System, completed by Vocus in September 2017, comprises 2100km of sub-sea cable, between Darwin and Port Hedland. The system can deliver speeds of up to 40Gb/s to both connected INPEX and Shell facilities and serves to increase the reach and resiliency of the Vocus Australian telecommunications network.
  • The Australia-Singapore Cable is a 4600km, 40Tb/s sub-sea cable linking Australia to Singapore through Jakarta and Christmas Island, scheduled for completion in Q1 of FY19.
  • Vocus is the only Australian telecommunications company in the last four years to complete an international sub-sea cable build connecting Australia.

Photo and graphic: courtesy DFAT and Vocus

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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