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New Zealand businessmen propose project to build international fibre cable
Posted on 11-Mar-2010 14:29 | Tags Filed under: News

Pacific Fibre, an early stage international fibre venture founded by a group including New Zealand businessmen Stephen Tindall, Sam Morgan and Rod Drury, announced its plans today, aiming to break the digital divide between New Zealand, Australia and the rest of the world.

Other founders include Mark Rushworth, former Vodafone Chief Marketing Officer, technology industry veteran John Humphrey, and strategy consultant and entrepreneur Lance Wiggs.

Pacific Fibre is engaging in early discussions with cornerstone investors and customers.

The group is looking to secure funding and build a 5.12 Terabits/sec capacity fibre cable to be ready in 2013 connecting Australia, New Zealand and the USA - the initial proposal is a cable which will deliver five times the capacity of the existing Southern Cross system.

Sam Morgan commented: "We desperately need a cable that is not purely based on profit maximisation, but on delivering unconstrained international bandwidth to everybody, and so we've decided to see whether we can do it ourselves.”

Stephen Tindall commented: “The New Zealand Institute identified billions of dollars in economic potential by unleashing the internet, and it is beyond time to address the issue. This is necessary and basic infrastructure – we must decrease the distance between New Zealand and the international markets. Doing so will be incredibly valuable for New Zealand and Australian businesses and consumers. If we are able to deliver on this cable this it could be as valuable to our NZ economy as the quantum leap refrigerated ships were to our export trade many years ago

"This is a bold vision which, as realists, we know will not be easy to deliver, it will take a huge effort to complete, and has many risks. While we have completed early feasibility work it is essential for people to know we now need to determine the level of interest from potential partners before we go to the next stage of a full business case, risk assessment and proof of concept to take to investors and bankers. We realise the risks are large but are prepared to push through to the next stage. We have released this news today primarily to ensure that any parties who are interested in this space have an opportunity to speak with us during this early planning phase."

Pacific Fibre's ambitious aim is to deliver the highest capacity and lowest latency international internet service to Australia and New Zealand by connecting Australia and New Zealand to the USA with 13,000 km of cable. The cable from New Zealand to the USA would be direct, substantially reducing the distance versus existing cables, and thus delivering lower latency, or lag, associated with the cable. The planned cable would also offer potential for branching units to provide connectivity to several Pacific islands.

Rod Drury commented: "We are seeing a growing digital divide between New Zealand and the rest of the world. We need this infrastructure if we are serious about growing international businesses from New Zealand.

“The introduction of a new cable would drive competition and capacity in the international bandwidth market, building on the success of the Southern Cross cable, which was critical for New Zealand when it was built 10 years ago. This proposed cable would provide internet service providers and large and small businesses with a major boost in capacity and speed, but also give the extra redundancy that another cable provides.”

Mark Rushworth commented: “We have a lot of work to do to make this happen and I am excited by the challenge. With 90% of New Zealand internet traffic going offshore, a major boost in international capacity is needed to fix the 7pm bottleneck. The situation is bad now and only going to get worse as the New Zealand Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative and the Australian National Broadband Network start delivering fibre to the premise."

“We are seeing a huge increase in demand from consumers and businesses driven by the use of video which is increasing in resolution and use. Businesses love very high resolution multi party video conferencing - all the way up to telepresence systems, while grandparents expect to be able to Skype video their grandchildren - and that too will be in HD or better. But mostly we want to unleash that creative talent New Zealand has, and be on a level footing with the rest of the world.”

The current proposed cable configuration would be 13,000 km long, and have two fibre pairs with 64 wavelengths (lambdas) each at 40 Gigabits/sec per lambda. The maximum lit capacity initially would be 5.12 Terabits/sec, but would be upgradeable to over 12 Terabits/sec as the emerging 100 Gbit/sec per lambda technology becomes reality. The newer cable and repeater technology that Pacific Fibre proposes to use will be substantially more easily upgradeable than that of existing cables.

Pacific Fibre will seek to work alongside existing industry players and also seek to aggregate any existing initiatives into a unified project.

Mr Rushworth commented: “We are delighted by the early interest in Pacific Fibre from industry players and financial backers. We believe a unified approach to building the cable is good news for the entire telecommunications industry, including Telecom, who will finally be able to deliver innovative new services expected as normal in other countries.”

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