Vocus connects Darwin’s first international fibre cable

Vocus connects Darwin’s first international fibre cable, securing the Territory’s future as Asia-Pacific digital hub

  • First international fibre-optic cable connection into Darwin
  • New data centre to be built in Darwin, connected to Vocus’ international and inter-capital cables
  • Supported by $7.9m contribution from Northern Territory Government’s Terabit Territory strategy

Vocus, Australia's leading fibre and network solutions provider, has connected its new $100m submarine fibre cable that will position Darwin as a key digital hub for the Asia Pacific region.

The new 1,000km cable links Vocus’ existing Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) which runs from Perth to Singapore with the existing North-West Cable System which runs from Darwin to Port Hedland.

Combined, they form the new Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore Cable (DJSC) system, stretching 7,700 kilometres between Darwin and Singapore, opening up low-latency connectivity into Asia for Australia’s North, particularly resources operators in the Pilbara. The new international link is now undergoing final testing and is scheduled to be ready for service mid-year.

The DJSC is a key part of Vocus’ $1 billion, five-year strategy, which also includes Vocus’ Project Horizon, a new 2,000km fibre route from Geraldton to Port Hedland, commencing construction soon. This will connect with the DJSC, establishing a redundant fibre path between Perth and Singapore through the Pilbara, and bring competition in fibre services to the region for the first time.

Transforming Darwin’s economy and protecting Australia’s connectivity

Ellie Sweeney, Chief Executive Officer at Vocus, said,

“This final component of the DJSC system will help transform Darwin’s economy and establish it as a new high-tech centre in Southeast Asia. “The system unlocks Darwin as a major new data hub for the Asia Pacific and establishes both Darwin and Port Hedland as new entry points for international data into Australia, providing greater resilience and redundancy to ensure international internet connectivity,” Ms Sweeney explained.

It will connect to our ‘Terabit Territory’ fibre backbone from Darwin to Adelaide and Brisbane, which Vocus upgraded to deliver a 25-times capacity increase in 2021.

This final segment – a four fibre-pair cable delivering 40 Terabits of capacity – marks the completion of deployment works for the $500m DJSC system. The new cable segment has been rolling off the cable vessel since late February, and the deep-sea connection was completed on Friday by Alcatel Submarine Networks for Vocus.

The crew aboard the Ile de Re cable ship successfully lifted the Australia Singapore Cable from a depth of 5km up to the ocean's surface, splicing it to the new cable segment on deck before lowering the connected cables back to the ocean floor.

Backed by $7.9m investment from the NT Government

The cable has been built with a financial contribution from the Northern Territory Government as part of the overall Terabit Territory strategy, underpinning its ambition for the Territory to become a data centre hotspot for South-East Asia.

“The establishment of subsea fibre-optic cable connections and a data centre in Darwin are the first steps towards capitalising on the significant growth expected in the global data centre market,” said Northern Territory Chief Minister, Natasha Fyles. “The Northern Territory Government is working to establish the NT as Australia’s digital gateway to Asia to contribute to the growth of the economy by $40 billion by 2030.
“Data centres are critical enabling infrastructure that will not only boost the economy directly, but also indirectly by improving capability and driving productivity gains to support growth in all other areas of the economy,” Chief Minister Fyles said. “Our Government has invested $7.9 million in this critical new infrastructure to link the Northern Territory to Jakarta and Singapore,” said Minister for Corporate and Digital Development, Ngaree Ah Kit. “This is the first international fibre-optic cable connection for Darwin that will provide the connectivity we need to become a key digital hub for Asia. “Ensuring that the Northern Territory has access to the most advanced technology with new international fibre-optic cable connections will position it to accelerate the development of a new data centre industry,” Minister Ah Kit said.
Game changer for Northern Territory business
“The Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore cable will be a game-changer for business in the Territory,” said Greg Ireland, Chief Executive Officer, Chamber of Commerce NT. “It puts the Territory on the fast track to diversify our economy beyond our traditional focuses and creates opportunities for new long-term jobs in the high-tech sector. “Our member businesses will benefit from more responsive internet connectivity and the opportunity to use cloud applications that are hosted right here in the Territory in the new data centre that will be built as a result of the cable,” Mr Ireland said.

Major data centre operator NEXTDC has announced plans to construct a flagship hyperscale data centre in Darwin connected by the cable, which will offer an alternative to offshore data centres for companies seeking a location close to Asia within a geopolitically stable region.

“We are now progressing the development of NEXTDC's first facility in Darwin to set the benchmark for data centres in the region, providing 100% uptime in addition to fast, secure and flexible access to Australia's most cloud connected ecosystem. In partnership with Vocus and the Northern Territory Government, NEXTDC is committed to driving the economic development for key government and industry sectors in the region,” said NEXTDC CEO and Managing Director Craig Scroggie.

Ellie Sweeney, Vocus CEO, explained the benefit of the local data centre connected via the new cable:

“Having major data centre infrastructure in Darwin will give businesses the opportunity to host content and applications close to their operations and customers – whether in north-western Australia or Southeast Asia - for faster, more responsive performance.”

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