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Southern Cross Cable increases capacity again
Posted on 17-Jan-2012 11:36 | Tags Filed under: News

The availability of international capacity on the Southern Cross network continues to expand and prices have fallen again. Southern Cross today announced the immediate availability of the first 200 Gigabits of capacity from its latest upgrade and a price reduction of up to 44 percent.

Southern Cross also announced the deployment of 100 Gigabits per second transmission equipment by December this year.

“We continue to keep well ahead of the rapidly expanding needs of hi-speed broadband users in both Australia and New Zealand by increasing supply and reducing prices” says Ross Pfeffer, Southern Cross Sales and Marketing Director.

The protected twin cable network with 28,500 kilometres of undersea cable was constructed back in 2000. It now provides the international platform for Australia's NBN and New Zealand's UFB and it has cost US$1.4 billion.

"Once again we have taken advantage of the very latest developments, to rapidly expand our supply well ahead of demand and to reduce our prices” Pfeffer says.

This is the company's fifth major capacity upgrade since 2001. After trialling a number of systems, in October 2011 Southern Cross signed a two stage capacity upgrade contract to deploy Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform and 5400 Reconfigurable Switches as well as Ciena’s OneControl Unified Management Systems. This first phase uses 40 Gigabits per second transmission equipment on our network for the first time.

This move to 40 Gbps from an existing 10 Gbps platform will be short lived. The rapid pace of technological improvement will allow Southern Cross to implement Ciena's 100 Gbps transmission equipment with a simple line card upgrade by December this year when the second phase of the current upgrade is due to be completed. The upgrade simplicity gives us a rapid time-to-capacity advantage.

The network's total lit capacity is now 1.4 Terabits per second. By March it will increase to 1.6 Terabits and by December to 2.0 Terabits. Southern Cross says there's the potential to go to at least 6 Terabits per second by December next year, about 25 times higher than the original design capability in 2000, and our potential is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years.

“The implementation of 100 Gigabit equipment this year is some two years sooner than previously anticipated and it demonstrates how the potential size of our network grows in huge leaps,” Pfeffer says. “Some have said there won’t be enough capacity for hi-speed internet growth, but as our expansions and the ongoing rapid advances in technology show, that couldn’t be further from the truth”.

“With lower marginal capacity cost we have reduced our prices to the US from both New Zealand and Australia by 44%”, says Pfeffer, “the third largest decline in our history. Often coinciding with capacity upgrades, price declines are not new for Southern Cross, having averaged over 21 per cent annually since 2001. This longstanding practice has promoted the increasing use of retail internet data with reducing cost”.

Pfeffer said “it’s particularly pleasing to see how ISP competition has resulted in big increases to retail data caps over the last year for both Australian and New Zealand internet users, and to see the retail cost of data continuing to fall. Our new initiatives are again designed to support this process as another step towards the new NBN and UFB environments”.

"We have implemented the Calient Optical Switching platform at all 10 Network Access Points to augment both the strength and flexibility of the network. That's the foundation on which we design our capacity product for users. In 2008 and at no additional charge we introduced the incredibly successful Drop Restored product range to the ANZ-US market to make sure that our capacity is always deployed to the final internet user with in-built protection. We have cemented the superiority of our protected products on the ANZ-US capacity route".

“The quality of our network also allowed us to confidently extend customers’ capacity contracts from 2020 to 2025,” Pfeffer says. “I expect that opportunity will arise again in 2015 when there is a strong likelihood that the commercial life of the Southern Cross Network will be able to be extended until at least 2030.” “Having said that, just how much longer we will keep upgrading rather than rebuilding depends on future demand growth”.

“Demand growth has averaged around 35 per cent over the last 11 years and in the last year has exceeded 40 per cent. While we are confident that our future upgrades will support much higher demand growth we will continue to monitor developments closely as part of our normal upgrade versus build evaluation process, to ensure that our network is always ahead of the game”.

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