NZ group plots $630m trans-Pac cable

Robert Clark
12 Mar 2010

A group of New Zealand entrepreneurs is planning a trans-Pacific cable to challenge Southern Cross’s monopoly of the south Pacific route.

The unfunded startup, Pacific Fibre, is aiming to build the NZ$900 million ($630m) cable by 2013.

The cable will build with an initial design capacity of 5.12 Tbps over two fiber pairs, with design capacity of up to 12.8 Tbps. It would be initially lit at least 240 Gbps.

Backers include NZ businessmen Stephen Tindall, Sam Morgan, Rod Drury, Lance Wiggs and former Vodafone CMO Mark Rushworth.

Wiggs said on the company blogthat the new system would operate at a lower cost than Southern Cross by linking directly to the West Coast, rather than running through Hawaii.

“We absolutely agree that raising funds and making this project happen is a challenging task. The biggest hurdle is the signing up of customers, as it is signed customers that drive the economic model,” he said.

The nine-year-old Southern Cross system, which is 50% owned by Telecom NZ and 40% by SingTel, currently offers 295 Gbps between Australia, NZ, Hawaii and the West Coast. It is planned to be upgraded to 1.2 Tbps this quarter.

Southern Cross marketing manager Ross Pfeffer told Stuff website that because of falling bandwidth prices, Southern Cross did not see a business case to replace its existing cable network, which was intended to last until 2025.

State-owned NZ enterprise Kordia has been unsuccessfully seeking backers for a NZ$200m cable linking New Zealand and Australia for several months, Stuff said.

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