20 Mar 2016

New broadband cable boosts Asia links

3:20 pm on 20 March 2016

A broadband cable to Australia to be laid this month will combat a projected 1100 percent increase in New Zealand internet traffic.

Internet cables

Photo: 123RF

Work on a new trans-Tasman broadband cable is due to start in Raglan by March 29 after telecommunications companies Spark, Vodafone and Telstra jointly invested about $US70 million in the project.

About three kilometres of the cable would be buried under seabed from Ngarunui Beach in Raglan.

This first phase would take about a week to complete.

From there, a larger specialised ship would take over to connect the next section of cable across the Tasman and eventually to Australia.

The companies said they had consulted residents and local iwi about the process and were confident it would be done with minimal disruption to the environment and community.

Vodafone wholesale director Steve Rieger said that with New Zealand's internet use increasing every year, the new cable was essential.

The companies needed to invest in the infrastructure now so the country had a back-up if the other connections failed, he said.

"Access to the digital world is now a critical infrastructure requirement for any country, any community and any individual. And the more protection we've got, in the event that any one of the other significant cable systems faults, you've got this back-up," he said.

Spark general manager of wholesale and international business Lindsay Cowley agreed the cable was needed to ensure there would be the right infrastructure in place to grow New Zealand's broadband and data connections.

Mr Cowley said over the next 10 years the overall connection requirements would increase by 11,000 percent and this connection was important because 40 to 50 percent of internet traffic was now heading to Australia and Asia rather than the US.

"It's no longer just about getting just up to the US, although that is still an important route. It's now also about getting into Australia and to Asia. Particularly for businesses with a large number of online applications that are based out of Australia and also out of Singapore and other places in Asia" he said.

The cable, only a few centimetres wide, was 2300 kilometres long and could be expected to be in use before the end of the year.

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