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Interview with Craige Sloots, Southern Cross Cable Networks

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Since its announcement in September 2016, the Southern Cross NEXT project has hit the ground (or in this case water!) running, with the marine survey completed early this year ahead of schedule and garnering strong interest from the market in support of the projected construction costs. Before he joins us in Singapore next week, we spoke with Craige Sloots, Director of Marketing Strategy & Sales from SCCN who shares a bit more on the NEXT project, and some observations on the industry’s outlook.

  1. Tell us more about yourself (and your organisation)

Southern Cross has been a principal supplier of high quality, redundant international capacity solutions in the Oceania region for over 15 years. Southern Cross products and services are built upon the key principles of redundant network design, innovative product development and strong customer relationships, and define performance and availability statistics that are world class. Building upon the current robust network, Southern Cross has recently announced the Southern Cross NEXT Programme which is committed to constructing a new submarine cable route between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, to augment the current topology, along with a strategic intent to construct a second redundant route (NEXT Phase 2) prior to the retirement of the existing Southern Cross 1 & 2 systems in 2030.

The Southern Cross NEXT Phase 1 route is designed to be the lowest latency route between Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles in the United States. This new route along with our existing systems as part of the overall Southern Cross eco-system will underpin Southern Cross’ capability to continue to provide the highest quality, and most reliable submarine cable services in the Oceania region.

I’ve personally been with the company for about 8 years, and am the Director of Marketing, Strategy and Sales, a position not without its many challenges but also with the satisfaction of being able to deal with not only many customers but also suppliers and other providers in the region, and therefore I have the opportunity to form some great relationships and friendships. Like most industries I guess, while the technology and developments appeal to me as an engineer, often achieving great things in the industry is about relationships and the people.

2. In one sentence, how would you describe the state of the subsea communications industry today?

The industry is in an exciting place presently, both because of the amount of growth fuelling capacity requirements globally, and also because of the innovation that’s taking place as suppliers and operators look for new ways to meet these growing and change demand requirements.

3.  How do you see the industry evolving over the next 5 years?

I am projecting we’ll see quite a bit of development around higher fibre count systems, as well as L-band development as suppliers seek to solve the capacity equation. Both of which of course will place a lot of pressure on repeater design and development. The focus on cost reduction will also continue to drive focus in the repeater space, and I suspect open cable systems will become the norm rather than the exception. I am also expecting spectrum sharing and policing technology to develop, but probably more as an operational tool rather than the commercial one it was originally envisaged as a few years ago.

4.  What do you think is one key challenge facing the industry today? How do you think it can be overcome?

I think the subsea industry is facing the same sort of issues faced domestically for a while now where the traditional telco operators and the OTT providers are both trying to work out how to operate in the same technical industry with fundamentally different business models. I wish I had the answer of course. However, ultimately both parties have a lot to add to the industry.

5. Why are you excited to be at Submarine Networks World 2017?

I am excited to be attending Submarine World to catch up with colleagues and old friends, as well as ensuring as many in the industry know about the Southern Cross NEXT development, and the uniqueness of the development and the Southern Cross eco-system in terms of diversity and resilience.

6. Can you give us an overview of what you’ll be sharing with the audience at Submarine Networks World 2017?

I’ll be at the Cable Poster session and will be looking forward to sharing information about the Southern Cross NEXT project, as well as the existing systems and our products including some of our recent developments such as our Gigaflex bandwidth on demand service, which will be on demonstration here at the show in conjunction with Ciena.

Southern Cross CEO, Anthony Briscoe will also be one of the keynote cable speakers to share detailed updates on the progress of the Southern Cross NEXT project and the benefits of the new path. The Southern Cross NEXT development is not simply another stand-alone single strand system. As it will form part of the Southern Cross eco-system, and therefore mesh into the existing Southern Cross cables, Data Centre access locations and product portfolio etc., customers will be able to utilise their capacity across multiple diverse links taking advantage of resiliency, diversity and configuration options in ways simply not possible on alternate systems.

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Get a first-hand update on the NEXT project during Anthony’s presentation at the Global Cable Projects Showcase (26th September, 12:25PM) and have your questions answered by Craige at our lunchtime Cable Projects Poster Session (co-sponsored by Southern Cross Cable Network and RTI Connectivity) on Day One. 

Join them together with over 500 industry leaders at the only annual platform dedicated for the subsea communications community to meet, exchange knowledge and develop new strategies and partnerships at Submarine Networks World 2017 (25 – 27 September, Suntec Singapore Convention Centre)

For more information, download the latest conference brochure.  Early bird discounts are still available, so get your passes here

Keen to learn more? Get in touch with the team:

Hazel Chen | +65 6322 2730
Regina Koh | +65 6322 2308

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