ACMA approves submarine cable to New Caledonia

Conditions placed on permit, first time approval

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has granted Office des Postes et Telecommunications (OPT) a permit to install a communications submarine cable between Sydney and Noumea, New Caledonia.

The permit is the first of its kind to be granted by ACMA since Schedule 3A to the Telecommunications Act 1997.

Schedule 3A requires carriers to obtain a permit to install a new submarine cable in Australian waters, and also enables ACMA to establish protection zones over nationally significant submarine cables.

Submarine cables are the underwater networks which carry about 99 per cent of Australia's international voice and data traffic.

The OPT cable project will support the ongoing economic development of the region by offering high-speed connectivity to New Caledonia.

The ACMA has placed two conditions on the OPT permit.

One condition is that the installation of the cable must be within a band that extends half a nautical mile either side of the route position listed for the cable.

The second condition is that the permit holder must provide the holder of an offshore petroleum exploration permit with 21 days' notice of its installation activities.

The OPT cable will traverse an offshore petroleum exploration permit area.

Permit holders must continue to comply with state laws applying to coastal waters, which extend up to three nautical miles, or approximately 5.6 kilometres, from the low-water mark.

The Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Protection of Submarine Cables and Other Measures) Act commenced on August 23, 2005 and included the insertion of Schedule 2A into the Telecommunications Act 1997. .

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