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Telecom To Strengthen Network With New Cable

Telecom To Strengthen Network With New Cook Strait Cable

Telecom today announced a major project for further developing and enhancing its New Zealand network, in particular the establishment of a new submarine cable between the North and South Islands.

Telecom is to build a cable which spans Cook Strait. It will support the high growth that is forecast to occur in telecommunications traffic between the islands over the next 25 years. Telecom will also build a new cable across the South Island between Greymouth and Christchurch.

Telecom General Manager, Access and Transport, Dr Richard Dammery said the project would add substantial capacity to New Zealand’s telecommunications infrastructure, while also making it more robust against the risk of failure on particular routes (such as in the event of an earthquake).

“To illustrate the capacity of the submarine cable Telecom intends to build, it would be sufficient to enable the entire population of the South Island to watch separate high quality video channels over the Internet simultaneously, Dr Dammery said.

“Telecom is committed to providing New Zealand with the telecommunications infrastructure required in the Information Economy.

“The new Cook Strait cable and the new trans-South Island link are integral to that ambition. It is good business sense for us and it is extremely beneficial to the national economy,” he said.

The $38 million project is due for completion by mid 2001 and Telecom has appointed Siemens as principal contractor for the submarine cable laying. The planned route is 200km from Hokio Beach, near Levin to Cable Bay, north of Nelson.

Telecom is now consulting with interested parties and seeking planning consents for the project.

“This is not only good for South Island consumers and businesses – both these projects are great for centres such as Christchurch and Nelson. With a new enlarged telecommunications link, it is expected that business opportunities would increase for South Island companies and attract new ventures to its main towns,” Dr Dammery said.

The submarine cable will use DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) technology and this means no underwater amplification will be required. This will minimise the potential future impact on the environment required for maintenance of amplifiers.

Paul Lazarou, Executive Director, Siemens Information & Communication Networks, says the Cook Strait fibre optic cable project continues the network enhancement the company has undertaken for Telecom over the past three years.

Siemens is an acknowledged leader in fibre optic transmission technology and was among the early developers of DWDM, which enables the cable to carry such a huge amount of voice and data.

Siemens holds several world records for distance and capacity achieved, including the PLDT Digital Fibre Optic Network project in the Philippines, the world’s largest unrepeated fibre optic cable system, with 17 submarine sections.

“The Telecom project is a challenging one, but Siemens has the advantage of undertaking some of the most complex submarine fibre optic cable projects in the world – equal to anything the Cook Strait can throw at us,” said Mr Lazarou.

“Siemens is very conscious of the delicate marine environment in which the cable is to be laid and that is why we recommended using a specially designed plough to bury it up to 2 metres under the sea floor, where it will be protected from fishing nets and dragging anchors.

“Telecom is to be congratulated for taking its environmental responsibilities as seriously as it does the future-proofing of New Zealand’s voice and data communication needs,” said Mr Lazarou.

“At the moment, virtually all Telecom telecommunications between the North and South Islands are transported through either its inter-island digital microwave radio link or capacity leased from Transpower on two adjacent fibre-optic cables. Telecom has recognised that as telecommunications traffic continues to grow, we need new diverse fibre-optic routes, Dr Dammery said.

“Telecom also wants to continue to enhance the quality of our services to customers. By building our own cable, and making sure it avoids all major fault lines and traverses a seabed in which the cable can be buried, we will achieve this.

“Burying the cable will not only provide it with better protection to the cable, but will ensure no impact on fishing activities.”

Telecom intends to have the submarine cable built and operational by mid-2001 and will build a diverse optic fibre route from the West Coast though to Christchurch operational by August 2001.

"Customers in Nelson and on the West Coast of the South Island will now have a second diverse fibre cable linking them to the rest of the world.

"This route will provide important new infrastructure for enhancing service along the route between Christchurch and Greymouth via Arthur’s Pass,” said Dr Dammery.

More details on this project are available on


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