New North West cable supports $50B developments.
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A NEW purpose-built, subsea, fibre-optic network has officially been switched on, based off the north-west of Western Australia to eventually support the Ichthys and Prelude FLNG developments. The North West Cable System creates a link from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Port Hedland in Western Australia, and will connect the developments being finalised by Shell and Inpex in the offshore Browse Basin, as well as further extending Australia’s optic fibre network. The NWCS has been in development for more than two years, and the 2100km cable was switched on this week by operators Nextgen Group and Nokia’s Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks.
The state-of-the-art, high-speed data communications is now integrated into Nextgen’s 17,000km national transmission network and Metronode’s national network of data centres, providing immediate telecommunications benefits to those communities in the NT and WA connected to the cable.
Nextgen Group CEO David Yuile said the $US139 million ($A185 million) cable system not only provided essential support for Australia’s oil and gas projects by linking the offshore facilities to their onshore data centres, but promoted competition with new telecommunication infrastructure for businesses and consumers in regional communities at the cable landing points.
“High-speed connectivity has now emerged as a vital component to operate any business regardless of geographical location – be it 200km offshore – or in remote and regional Australia.
“The completion of the NWCS is a significant milestone for the Nextgen Group and will deliver a digital dividend to Australia’s resources sector and to regional communities in Australia’s North West,” Yuile said.
“The NWCS project also demonstrates how technology advances can accompany the evolution of economic and energy needs, while enhancing the communication infrastructure in the region.” ALSN president Philippe Piron added.
Piron said the cable will offer higher bandwidth availability, greater reliability and lower latency which are of critical importance to enhance the efficiency of operations on and off-shore.
Work commenced on the cable in May 2014 and the Prelude and Ichthys JVs contributed equally to the construction of the system, which has a design capacity of more than 3.2 terabits per second, with the potential to be upgraded to more than 32Tb/s.
Both Ichthys and Prelude are expected to begin production in 2017.
Nextgen has included additional capability in the system that allows for enhanced telecommunications resilience for the NT.
It has also provisioned future connections into other locations such as the Tiwi Islands and established infrastructure-based, high-bandwidth capability in the Pilbara region.
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