Telstra Sends Strong Signal with Submarine Cable Upgrade

Telstra has committed to a major 160 percent upgrade to its submarine cable network with technology from US-based Infinera.By James Fernyhough
January 21, 2019

Telstra has made one of the strongest statements since it launched its T22 strategy that it has not turned its back on fixed line infrastructure by committing to a major upgrade to its submarine cable network.

The upgrade, announced on Monday, uses technology from US firm Infinera to upgrade its huge network of submarine cables. The overhaul will increase the capacity of the lines by 160 per cent, while also decreasing power consumption.

That means Telstra's cables – which run from Australia to various locations in the Asia Pacific region as well as the US – will be able to carry half as much data again as they do now.

The company said the changes would allow Telstra to “rapidly activate new capacity for customers, delivering multiterabit capacity with low power consumption and high reliability”.

Telstra hasn't laid any actual new cables along the ocean floor, but rather has upgraded the technology at either end to make more economical use of the existing fibre optic cables.

High quality subsea cables are essential because they link Australia to the rest of the world and carry, among other things, the increasingly high volume of data necessary to stream Netflix and other video services.

The move comes seven months after Telstra announced it was separating its fixed-line infrastructure into a subsidiary, InfraCo, which includes the company's submarine network.

That decision raised concerns Telstra was turning its back on fixed line infrastructure to focus on retail and mobile infrastructure, a response to the National Broadband Network roll-out.

It also raised the possibility that Telstra would cut InfraCo loose entirely, setting it up as an independent business in preparation to purchase or merge with a privatised NBN – something Telstra chief executive Andy Penn has said is under consideration.

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