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Vocus ASC: 3 years on and more important than ever

Like proud parents, Vocus is lighting the candles to celebrate the 3rd birthday of our Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) – one of Australia’s most advanced, high capacity, low latency, secure and reliable submarine fibre optic cable systems.

It’s been a busy three years, with the ASC growing in importance almost by the day as a key piece of Australia’s fibre infrastructure, and our connection to Asia and the world.

It’s something Vocus and our customers were given a stark reminder of only last month, after the ASC was allegedly cut by a container ship dropping its anchor in a cable protection zone about 10km off the coast of Perth.

Thanks to a rapid response and the good fortune of a cable repair vessel being in the area, we were able to complete repairs in just 13 days—a process that would normally take months.

Rebalancing data flows

Before the launch of the ASC, Australia’s international telecommunications infrastructure was heavily focused on submarine cable landings located on the east coast of Australia.

The introduction of the ASC and subsequent cables, has rebalanced the architecture of Australia’s national fibre infrastructure, significantly reducing the reliance on Sydney as the default exit point for our international traffic, as well as providing capacity, speed and reducing latency.

It has effectively established an alternate global route for data travelling from South East Asia to Australia and on to the US and Europe.

An important piece in the puzzle

The ASC has recently become an important piece in the puzzle for the first international submarine cable connection into Darwin, as part of Vocus’ Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore Cable (DJSC).

Announced last month, the DJSC is a new $100 million, 1,000km cable linking the Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) to Vocus’ North West Cable System (NWCS) which runs off Australia’s north-west coast between Port Hedland and Darwin.

The DJSC will deliver 40 terabits per second (Tbps) of internet capacity between Australia and Asia – unlocking Darwin as a major new data hub for the Asia-Pacific and opening up the Pilbara mining region for low-latency connectivity into Singapore.

The new system will also interconnect with Vocus’ in-progress Project Horizon fibre from Perth to Port Hedland.

A focal point

The Asia Pacific region is today the focal point of global internet activity, as it is home to the largest share of internet traffic, data and connectivity.

For Vocus and the ASC, this continues to open opportunities to provide services and build relationships with the world’s leading technology, content, cloud and over-the-top players, as they look to support their growing presence in Asia and Australia, with more data capacity, speed and network reliability.

Key facts about the ASC
  • The ASC stretches 4,608 kilometres between Perth and Singapore, via Christmas Island and Jakarta in Indonesia.
  • A USD$170m investment, it involved more than 60 team members, almost five years of planning, two years of construction and was launched on time and on budget.
  • It has a total system capacity of up to 60 (Tbps).
  • It comprises 4 fibre pairs, with 100 wavelengths per pair. Between Perth and Singapore, each wavelength can currently carry 150 gigabits per second (Gbps), with the ability to be upgraded to at least 400 Gbps.
  • It employs the latest generation dense wave division multiplex technology and an ultra-low-loss silica core fibre, which has been optimised for high-bit-rate repeated submarine systems.
  • It has a total of 50 repeaters installed over its length, employing duplicated pump lasers and delivering up to 40 nanometres of total bandwidth.
  • It comprises a mix of cable types, which were chosen to suit the geography, topography and climatic activity of different sections of the route.
  • Techniques used to lay the ASC were chosen to minimise the chance of physical damage from seismic activity, rock falls, tidal flows, shipping anchors and fishing nets, particularly around the active regions of Singapore and Indonesia.
  • This involved burying the ASC up to 10 metres below the seabed in some sections and encasing the cable in heavy armour where it could not be buried or required extra protection.