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Tasman Test for Internet Cable Maintenance Robot

29 August 2000

Media statement from Southern Cross Cable Network

Tasman Sea Testing Ground for Internet Cable Maintenance Robot

The Tasman Sea - just off the coast of Sydney - is currently the testing ground for a state-of-the-art remote operated vehicle (ROV) purpose built to maintain the Southern Cross Cable Network, which will go live on 15 November. Testing began on Monday and will be completed tomorrow, and is the second of two rounds of sea trials conducted in recent weeks.

Fitted to the cable maintenance vessel, CS Pacific Guardian, the Southern Cross ROV has bulldozer-like tracks that enable it to move along the sea floor at depths of up to 2,500 metres. It is also equipped with six horizontal and four vertical thrusters to enable it to "free swim" where the seabed is too soft to support the weight of the ROV.

During cable installation approximately 1,500km of the Southern Cross Cable Network was purposely buried into the seabed to provide additional protection for the cable. The ROV will enable the buried cable in the vicinity of a fault to be exposed quickly for cable repair purposes.

Southern Cross Director Asia Pacific Market Ross Pfeffer said, "In November the Southern Cross Network will become the most important component in the infrastructure that brings the Internet to Australasia. It is the only network that will allow us to expand our use of the Internet."

"We are all increasingly dependent on online communications, and simply cannot afford to be with out them. So continuous network availability is the highest priority for Southern Cross."

"To this end we have constructed a fully protected network with no single point of failure so that, in the unlikely event of cable damage, our network continues to provide uninterrupted communication."

"Nonetheless it is important that we are able to make any necessary cable repairs quickly, so we can return to a fully protected mode of operation as soon as possible. This ROV is an important part of our quick response strategy."

The Art of Submarine Cable Repair The ROV will be used to locate the damaged section of cable, especially in areas where the cable has been buried into the seabed for additional protection. It will then use its robot arm to cut the cable and attach recovery lines.

Once raised and repaired aboard the CS Pacific Guardian, the cable is lowered back to the seabed and will then be reburied into the seabed by the ROV. Traffic can be put back onto the Southern Cross segment that has been repaired prior to the reburial work being undertaken.

Video cameras mounted on the ROV enable operators on the CS Pacific Guardian to steer the ROV and operate the robot arms. The ROV is 2.2m high x 3.1m long x 2.0m wide. It weighs 7 tonnes and has a maximum forward speed in tracked mode of 2.2 km/hour.

Southern Cross will go live on 15 November this year and is capable of delivering 120 gigabits per second of fully protected capacity between Australasia and the "heart of the internet" - California. That's enough to transmit two full-lengths motion pictures every second.

- ENDS -

For images of the ROV and any further information contact: Philip Clark Media Contact Southern Cross Cable Network Tel: +64-9-309-1494 Email

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