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$70M Kiwi connectivity project set to kick off next month

17 Mar 2016

This month will see a team of specialist submarine cable experts arrive in Raglan, New Zealand, to lay the first section of the Tasman Global Access (TGA) undersea cable.

Telecommunications companies Spark, Vodafone and Telstra are investing approximately US$70 million to build the TGA cable, which is being implemented to improve New Zealand’s international broadband connectivity.

Other benefits of the new cable include strengthened links into Asian markets, redundancy and resiliency, and better connection with the five main international cable systems currently serving Australia, according to a statement.

The consortium of Spark, Vodafone and Telstra have contracted Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN), now part of Nokia, to lay the first cable between Ngarunui Beach at Raglan and Narrabeen Beach in Australia.

Lindsay Cowley, Spark general manager wholesale and international, and Vodafone’s wholesale director, Steve Rieger, jointly commented on behalf of the consortium: 

“The work in Raglan marks an exciting and important milestone on the journey to having the TGA cable ready to start carrying data across the Tasman towards the end of 2016. 

“The first stage will see the crew of the MV Tranquil Image - a specially fitted out New Zealand vessel - bury a three kilometre stretch of fibre optic cable from Ngarunui Beach, through the surf zone and into the ocean.

“Once the Raglan shore landing works are complete, a larger specialised ASN ship will arrive in New Zealand to connect the next section of cable, taking it across the Tasman and eventually connecting it to the Narrabeen Beach landing in Australia.”

The cable laying activities at Ngarunui Beach are scheduled to commence on 29 March and this first stage will take approximately one week to complete.

The consortium cautions that weather conditions may impact the schedule:

“The goal is to complete this first stage as quickly and seamlessly as possible, however the health and safety of the crew, and the public, are our first priority. 

“We are keeping the Raglan community informed of the key construction dates and activities and we are extremely grateful for their understanding and support of the project so far,” says Lindsay Cowley and Steve Rieger.

The TGA cable is currently on track to be completed, tested and ready for service by the end of 2016. The 2,300km length of cable is comprised of two fibre pairs, and will have a total capacity of 20 terabits per second.

Additional information: 

  • The Tasman Global Access (TGA) cable will meet future international bandwidth requirements for New Zealand consumers and businesses alike, which are set to grow by 11,000% in the next 10 years.
  • The TGA landing at Raglan on our West Coast provides important cable route diversity to the existing Southern Cross cable connecting New Zealand to Australia and the USA.
  • The TGA cable will enable New Zealand to better leverage the five main international cable systems currently serving Australia, and deliver important redundancy for New Zealand, as well as strengthening links into fast-growing Asian markets.
  • Both Spark and Vodafone’s trans-Tasman internet traffic has grown from just 10 percent of total international traffic in 2000, to 40-50 percent today.
  • With New Zealand’s international capacity requirements growing 60 percent year-on-year, (and projected 11,000% growth over 10 years) the TGA cable will support the future needs of consumers and the growth aspirations of New Zealand businesses. 
  • The TGA cable is a truly green project, in keeping with the ethos of Raglan. It will produce only short-term minor impacts on the environment that after one tide change will not be noticed, yet delivers limitless benefit for all of New Zealand in the long-term.
  • In planning the TGA cable, particular care has been given to ensuring the work at Raglan has minimal impact. All major cable-laying work will be completed “off season” to minimise disruption to regular beach users.  The consortium has taken advice from Raglan based marine ecologists regarding the cable route to shore. Local Iwi have also been consulted regarding their knowledge of the area and will continue to be involved in the development of the project.
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