By Southern Cross

Southern Cross Cables will now provide service on its fully diverse and protected undersea cable network until at least November 2025, Ross Pfeffer, Director Sales and Marketing announced today.

The previous commitment, until 2020, has been extended by Southern Cross for a further 5 years in line with the original technical life of the cable” Mr. Pfeffer said.

“This initiative to supply long term cost effective capacity on the protected Southern Cross Network has been welcomed by our customers. So instead of 10 years, customers will now be able to enjoy 15 years of value from their existing and new contracts.

Our latest initiative follows the introduction of Drop Restoration in 2008 which effectively halved the cost of fully restored capacity. These measures have been in addition to the steady reduction in our long term capacity prices, by an average of 20% p.a. since service began in year 2000.”

Mr Pfeffer noted that the extension of service to 2025 has been made possible by three factors:

  1. “Southern Cross and its suppliers have the highest confidence in its protected loop network which was engineered to perform to specification until 2025.
  2. Southern Cross has put all commercial supply arrangements in place until at least 2025 for cable station and NOC operation.
  3. Having benefited from network performance, continuing product enhancements and reductions in both capacity and operational costs, our customers have been very keen to have Southern Cross confirm it will provide service for at least 15 more years.

With nearly 10 years of service history, the Southern Cross network continues to exceed its engineering specifications due to the:

  1. high quality of its 28,500 kilometres of undersea fibres;
  2. outstanding performance of the  3010 laser pumps (in the 462 undersea repeaters); and
  3. continued improvements in transmission electronics associated with our regular capacity upgrade program.

While additional capacity purchase commitments are not required for the extension, customers will need to continue making Operations and Maintenance payments during the 2020 to 2025 extension period (previously their commitment ended in 2020).

Costing US$1.3 billion to construct, Southern Cross first entered service in November 2000 and since then has provided Australia and NZ with a secure backbone for broadband and other communications services.

Future Capacity Upgrades

Current technical expectations are that Southern Cross will be able to provide continued reliable service beyond 2025. In the meantime the capacity expansion programme is expected to continue through regular network upgrades and Southern Cross will continue to keep under review when and where new cables will be laid.

Over the next 15 years we expect to continue to pass on the benefits of continuing technological improvements in undersea transmission technology. The latest capacity upgrade, using improved 10 Gbps (Gigabits per second) transmission, was completed in April 2010 taking total network capacity to 1.2 Tbps (Terabits per second). Current total demand out of Australia and New Zealand is estimated to be around 0.7 Tbps.

We anticipate the next upgrade will be 18 to 36 months from now depending on demand. The next upgrade can be based on new 40 Gbps technology which has already been successfully tested on our longest undersea segments. This can take total capacity to 9.68 Tbps (or 4.8 Tbps per cable).

Within the next 5 years we expect transmission upgrades will be able to use 100 Gbps, increasing even further the expected supply from Southern Cross. “