The ASC Cable

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During Submarine Networks World 2017 we caught up with Luke Mackinnon, Head of Vocus International at Vocus Communications who told us about their plans to bring additional
connectivity into Western Australia from Singapore.  Called the Australia-Singapore Cable (ASC for short),
this 4,600Km system will comprise a four fiber pair system that will incorporate a minimum of 40 Tbps of total system capacity.

Luke Mackinnon, Head of Vocus International

Luke Mackinnon, Head of Vocus International

It is projected to cost around AUSD $170m, and will extend from the STT data centre in Tai Seng, Singapore to the Shenton Park Metronode Data Centre in Perth, via Jakarta (landing in Anyer), and Christmas Island (Indian Ocean). The ASC is attracting interest not only for the enhanced connectivity between Australia and Singapore, but also because it offers improved diversity of connection to Australia (away from Sydney), which will be further enhanced when an additional spur connects into Port Hedland in the northern reaches of Western Australia.

Planned route for ASC

Planned route for ASC

Diversity of supply is also attracting certain outsiders to this project, given its potential in offering an alternate link between Asia and North America, a link which has been dubbed ‘The Great Southern Route’. At a time when Guam and also Japan are under threat from North Korea, the potential to link a cable from Asia via Australia to North America offers a diverse route that will give peace of mind (at least where broadband connectivity is concerned) and therefore has strong strategic merit.
On the ASC cable route, we asked Luke what problems in particular Vocus had encountered. He told us that apart from the regular issues of operating in the ‘ring of fire’ in and around Indonesia waters, a further complication and risk to bear in mind has been the ‘sand pirates’ who dredge the sea floor for sand and rock for land reclamation purposes.

When completed, the cable is expected to bring significant improvements in diversity and latency. But, undoubtedly the biggest impact of the cable will be felt by the inhabitants of Christmas Island who, with a population of just a few thousand, will be able to receive for the first time and width from a cable and not via satellite. This should radically enhance connectivity as well as lower internet cost. As for Australia, once landed in Perth and Port Headland, the ASC cable will integrate with the terrestrial Nextgen network which links all the major cities of Australia, as well as linking in the North-West Cable System (NWCS) that links directly between Port Hedland and Darwin.

Given the huge benefits this cable will bring, it is great to hear that the project is currently running ahead of schedule. Originally planned to conclude in September 2018, the cable system, which is already 50% completed, now appears to be in line for a July 2018 delivery.

Update 12/12/2017: Vocus Communications announced that ASC has launched in Indonesia, in conjunction with landing partner XL Axiata.

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This article is part of a series of 15 interviews with leading cable project owners around the world, which we’ve compiled into the ebook “Submarine Networks Projects 2017”. Download a free copy of it here.

If you’d like to meet these cable owners and operators together with other leaders from the industry, you should join us at Submarine Networks World 2018, which takes place 24 – 26 September in Singapore. Firmly established as the must-attend annual meeting for industry players from all around the world, preparations are already underway for another year of inspiring ideas, extensive networking and lively debates, with a conference programme covering key industry issues ranging from New Demand Drivers to Marine Operations, as well as a brand new Innovation Zone featuring presentations on the latest R&D projects.

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

To sponsor: Bastiaan Heijden | +65 6322 2726
To speak: Yun Xuan (YX) Koh

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