Southern Cross Cable and Alcatel Submarine Networks have inked a contract kicking off the build of the Southern Cross NEXT submarine cable.
The deal ensures the manufacturing and construction phase of the project will begin, with Alcatel supplying the cable with technology based on an open cable architecture.
The US$350 million project will provide an additional 72 Tbits/s capacity for Southern Cross customers, adding to the existing 20 T-bit/s capacity of the current Southern Cross systems.
When completed in 2021, Southern Cross NEXT will be the largest capacity, lowest latency link between the US West coast and Sydney and Auckland, Southern Cross said.
It will also provide key interconnecting infrastructure for the South Pacific, providing a reliable direct information pipeline to connect Fiji, Tokelau and Kiribati and greater options to the existing cables from Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga connecting to Southern Cross in Fiji.
The solution is designed to provide enhanced reliability and network efficiency, as well as providing the lowest latency connection between major data centres in Sydney or Auckland and Los Angeles.
It includes Alcatel's submarine WSS ROADM units, the latest generation of repeaters and will offer high performance and powering resilience, enabling over 72 Tbit/s transmission capacity.
The open cable system is also designed to be compatible with future generations of submarine line terminal equipped with Probabilistic Shaping technology.
“Since the initial phases in 2016, interest in the project has grown significantly,” said Laurie Miller, president and CEO of Southern Cross Cables. “The Southern Cross team has worked tirelessly alongside ASN to design a high capacity system on the optimum marine route between Sydney and Los Angeles, and this contract shows that the hard work has paid off.”
A number of critical milestones have already been achieved prior to contract signing, with the marine survey completed in 2017, the completion of the Sydney BMH and bore landing facilities in 2018, along with landing arrangements in Los Angeles, and Auckland, Miller said.
“These milestones and the efforts of the Southern Cross and Alcatel teams have us on track to target completion of the system in the second half of 2021," Miller added.
The Southern Cross NEXT submarine cable is a state-of-the-art 4 fibre pair undersea route utilising an open cable design and enhancing the existing Southern Cross ecosystem.
The system will also provide full fibre connectivity to Auckland, New Zealand, and will incorporate branching units and OADM technology for connections to Fiji, Tokelau and Kiribati.