The North West Cable System (NWCS) forms a key component to one of Australia’s largest nationwide fibre optic networks, originally developed by Nextgen Group to provide ultra-speed data networking to the northern and western regions of Australia.

The North-West Cable System is a unique cooperation between the Telecommunications and Oil & Gas industries to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

The cable system seamlessly connects offshore O&G facilities in the Browse, Bonaparte and Carnarvon Basins to on shore locations including datacentres and business headquarters. This is achieved through:

  • 2,000km fibre between landing stations Port Hedland and Darwin
  • branching cables and riser cables to the O&G platforms
  • terrestrial optical fibre connectivity

The subsea cable system was built by Nextgen Group, a national telecommunications operator which is now part of Vocus Communications.

Leveraging our capabilities in terrestrial fibre optics and world class national fibre backbone network, combined with Alcatel-Lucents subsea expertise, we were able to provide a solution that exceeded the expectations of the oil & gas industry through provision of a highly robust, fully diverse fibre optic communications service.

The Project

Announced in May 2014 and completed in 2016, the project consists of three phases: the design phase, manufacture and deployment of the 2000km undersea cable and branching units. 

The cable system will connect to the INPEX Icthys and Shell Prelude platforms as already announced. Branching units will be deployed for additional oil and gas platforms in the region.

  • The NWCS build commenced in late 2014 and completed in September 2016
  • The build and customer connections were delivered on time and on budget
  • It is a 2 fibre pair, 12TB combined capacity cable
  • NWCS is the only combined telecommunications network and resources industry cable in Australia
  • NCWS will connect the Pilbara region which has 44,000 employees and an export in excess or $47b AUD annually, making it key for economic growth in Australia.
  • As a data network, the NWCS will enable increased economic growth across Australia’s north-west, and nationally – benefiting business and the wider community

The Benefits

Australia is a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the third largest exporter in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2011 alone, Australia exported 18.9 million tonnes of LNG which was valued at approximately $11.1billion (innovation.gov.au).

Many resource companies operate in this space and often in remote off-shore locations. The requirements for connectivity are driven by the operational improvements that are now available through the digitisation of every aspect of the platform operations.

The North-West Cable System offers an alternative solution to satellite connectivity with greater speeds and superior reliability, which is especially evident in adverse weather conditions.

Additionally the cable system connects the Pilbara region which has 44,000 employees and an export in excess or $47b AUD annually (http://www.economicprofile.com.au/pilbara) making it key for economic growth in Australia.

The NWCS is a built for purpose, world class asset providing Australia’s resources sector with the connectivity, bandwidth and reliability to pursue new and highly productive operational models such as remote operations.