Southern Cross Cables Ltd. and EGS say they have mapped 15,000 km of seabed from Clovelly to Los Angeles to find the optimal route for laying its $350 million U.S. Southern Cross NEXT submarine cable. Once laid, the undersea cable will provide high capacity and low latency internet connection for Australians, New Zealanders, and several Pacific Island nations accessing U.S. based web services and apps.
The NEXT undersea cable path survey comes a year after the operators of the Southern Cross Cable Network added 900 Gbps of capacity to their submarine network (see "Southern Cross adds capacity, enhances packet transport"). Southern Cross says the NEXT cable will provide customers with an additional 60 Tbps of capacity on top of Southern Cross systems' 20 Tbps of existing capacity.
The survey leg of the NEXT project began in February and is finished ahead of schedule. According to Southern Cross, mapping the sea floor to determine a cable route that bypasses seamounts, trenches, shipwrecks, or other threats to the cable's integrity was the survey's purpose. The survey did, in fact, find a previously-unidentified shipwreck 37 km off the coast of Sydney. Details have been sent to the New South Wales Office of Heritage and the Environment.
"People tend to think their Facebook and Snapchat content is delivered from overseas by satellite and that's incorrect," said Anthony Briscoe, Southern Cross Cable Network president and chief executive officer. "For the overwhelming majority of internet delivery, our connections are made to various websites and apps from abroad by a series of ‘pipes' that rest on seabeds across the globe, and those submarine cables are no thicker than a garden hose. People don't realize that delivering a submarine cable is among the most critical infrastructure projects on the planet."
Southern Cross says the survey mapped seabed from a site off the coast of Clovelly, New South Wales, to just off the coast of Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles - including stops in New Zealand and various Pacific Islands - and found a faster route than anticipated. The initial route was expected to be the lowest latency connection between Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. However, the company says the survey found a faster route that will shave off even more latency by passing through the Wallis and Fortuna waters instead of Tongan waters.
According to Southern Cross, the Request for Quotation process for cable suppliers is progressing, and vendor selection will be finalized by the end of 2017. The company says customers such as Fiji, Samoa, Tokelau, and Kiribati have given firm expressions of intent. The Southern Cross NEXT cable is planned to be operational by the end of 2019.
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