Telstra pushes ahead with $27m Bass Strait cable

Telstra's optical fibre cable project linking Tasmania with mainland Australia is nearing completion, with the telco rolling out the final stage from May 4.

The first submarine fibre optic cable, which had a capacity of 622Mbps, was installed in 1995 across Bass Strait.

The key technology supplier for the Bass Strait 2 project, Alcatel, is in the final stages of completing 242 km of the submarine optical fibre cable between Inverloch, Victoria and Stanley, Tasmania.

Once the highly complex operation is completed, the second cable will replace the digital radio links - installed in 1995 - as the main back-up technology for the first Bass Strait cable, and also supply redundant capacity. Alcatel uses a 5m high, 11m long device to bury the high fibre count cable. This device is towed behind the vessel and guided by telemetry technology.

The single longest optical fibre transmission project Telstra has under construction, it is aimed at providing the "best available" telecommunications services to Tasmania by enhancing Telstra's network infrastructure capacity, Telstra chief executive Ziggy Switkowski said. The dual optical fibre link will cater for the increasing uptake of high bandwidth data, broadband Internet and voice traffic access across Bass Strait and meet future growth opportunities, Switkowski added.

Telstra has invested $27 million in the Bass Strait 2 rollout. The new cable will be laid by mid-July and will carry more than 10Gbps of data - equivalent to more than 125,000 telephone calls.

Alcatel's Submarine Network division's Ill de Batz ship is the operations hub for the marine installation. The purpose-built vessel, which manages the cable laying, has 17000 KW of power, housing a range of core navigation and marine satellite communication systems. It can carry up to 3300 cubic metres of cable, weighing up to 5500 tonnes, and has a 70-person capacity.

The project involves 60 Alcatel staff, covering navigation, ploughing and mapping of the cable deployment.

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