Pacnet joins NZ Pacific Fibre consortium

Pacnet chief executive Bill Barney said the new cable would be essential to delivering international connectivity required by Australia and New Zealand

Asian telco, Pacnet, has joined the Pacific Fibre consortium which is aiming to build an undersea fibre telecommunications cable between Australia, New Zealand the Unites States.

When the project was first mooted in March this year, the Pacific Fibre group included a number of high-flying Kiwi businessmen such as the Warehouse founder Stephen Tindal, TradeMe founder Sam Morgan and Xero CEO Rod Drury, as well as former Vodafone marketing chief, Pacific Fibre's CEO, Mark Rushworth, and others.

Pacnet said it would join with the consortium in an equal partnership to build the cable, with each part to own and operate a new fibre pair in the cable -- while sharing responsibility for the cable supply contract as well as operations and maintenance costs.

Back in March, Rushworth estimated the cost of the cable at just under NZ$900 million (AU$736 million). But today the pair put the price of the cable at US$400 million (AU$447 million).

“It’s great to have Pacnet join us as equal partners,” said Rushworth in a statement. “This even further validates the need for a new cable to Australia and New Zealand, and will ensure the success of the Pacific Fibre system. Pacnet has done this before as the largest investor within Unity cable group, and we are already benefiting from working with them.

"We are also very happy to announce a further reduction in our estimated system build costs to around $US400m.”

Pacnet chief executive Bill Barney said the new cable would be essential to delivering international connectivity required by Australia and New Zealand as both countries built national broadband networks. “This investment is also an integral part of our overall strategy to expand our subsea cable infrastructure into the Australasia region, to complement our pan-Asian and Trans-Pacific network coverage and boost broadband connectivity into Asia," he said.

According to their joint statement, the pair will shortly begin the process of selecting a vendor to build the new cable, and will announce the award of the contract in the coming months -- with the new cable expected to be ready for service in 2013.

Each fibre pair is expected to provide 64 wavelengths - which will facilitate a total capacity of 5.12 terabits per second, as each wavelength will support 40 gigabits per second. Eventually, each wavelength may be able to support 100Gbps as technology evolves.

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Renai LeMay

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