International telecommunications company WorldCom has taken up the Olympic sized challenge of unlocking Australia's broadband bottleneck with the launch of 62,000km of broadband fibre-optic submarine cables.
As Australia's largest IT infrastructure project, three cables will provide direct links from Australia to Japan, Southeast Asia and the US.
Just one of the cables will provide 120 times the capacity of the existing link with the US - enough to transfer two full-length motion pictures every second.
WorldCom Australia's managing director, Suzanne Campbell, was unwilling to disclose the total cost of the project but said the cost of 19,000km of broadband cable is about $US800 million.
Campbell said the company is responding to the phenomenal growth of the Internet and other digital technologies.
She said the project will provide Australia's first direct link to Japan. The 12,000km of cable to Japan has been designed with 640Gbit/sec capacity, which is equivalent to 7.6 million telephone lines.
"The project is essential for Australia to keep pace with global business opportunities and promote Sydney as a telecommunications hub," Campbell said.
Executive director of the NSW government's investment division Warwick Glenn said the announcement of the project was timed for the Olympics to capitalise on the 100,000 business visitors currently in Sydney.
Glenn said the technology infrastructure has to be in place to sell Sydney as a business partner to the rest of the world.
The new Asia Pacific Cable Network2 (APCN-2) is the first of its kind and will connect Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.
NEC Corporation has been awarded the contract for construction of the cable, which has a capacity of 2.56 terabytes and will be operational in October 2001.
The link between Australia and North America will go live in November, providing the fastest path available to the US mainland.