Axin Ltd, the New Zealand and Australia sole agent and market representative of China Communications Service, says it has teamed with Huawei Marine to build a new submarine cable between Auckland and Sydney. And with financing for the project – estimated to cost almost US$100 million – already approved by the Export-Import Bank of China, the physical work on the trans-Tasman link is set to begin before the end of the year.
Axin was formed only last year and acts as an agent for CCS, which is itself a 51%-owned subsidiary of China Telecom. Axin chairman Robin Lee told CommsDay that negotiations around the new cable had started last June or July, but that the firm had been keen to keep a low profile until it was ready to make a significant announcement around progress.
“We’ve played very low-key – but now we are ready!” said Lee. “We didn’t want to [say] anything before we’d made our last move – the project actually started last year. But we think that now is the time to give the public a little background and information.”
The new cable will give New Zealand firms a route across to Sydney without having to use other routes such as Southern Cross or the planned Pacific Fibre – and from there out to the rest of the world via links like PPC-1 or the Australia-Japan cable. Lee said that, with the advent of Australia’s NBN and New Zealand’s UFB, demand for traffic across the Tasman would increase significantly. “We [will] need to get a lot of information across the Tasman; the old trans-Tasman cables [are] not really enough for the future of communications,” he said. “In the next ten years, I think the business will increase by ten or twenty times… currently, [capacity] on the cables is almost full.”
Lee said that much of the desktop design work for the cable had already been completed, with the next stage to be a marine survey expected to take around two months; construction is slated to start thereafter, with a projected timeframe of some eighteen months. He added that Axin plans to open negotiations with Australia’s NBN Co, and had already been talking to some of the firms working on New Zealand’s UFB. “This project fits in very well with our involvement with TNLP on long distance fibre to Northland and other fibre design projects,” he said. “We really want to see New Zealand broadband flourish.”
“New Zealand and Australia will benefit from the fast flow of information… and we will [provide] lots of capacity for future expansion, [such as for] new technologies like digital TV.”
“Huawei Marine is very excited to be working with AXIN on this important diverse cable between Australia and New Zealand,” added Huawei Marine CEO Nigel Bayliff. “We have proposed an innovative solution which will improve New Zealand’s connectivity into the increasingly important Australian and Asian markets… as recently reported by Telegeography, Internet traffic continues to shift towards Asia, and with this cable, New Zealand ISPs will have a greater deal of choice out of the Australian market.”