Sydney switches on to fibre optic boom

Australia has made its mark as the IT capital of the Asia-Pacific region with the recent news that Sydney will host a $160 million centre to house and manage computer and fibre optic cable equipment to meet the growing demands of local Internet, e-business and telecommunications companies.

Co-location centre provider Global Switch said this investment will escalate into "billions of dollars" in the next few years as the Internet revolution has led to hyper demand for this type of facility.

According to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, more than a quarter of the world's Internet users will be online in the Asia Pacific within three years.

Dubbed 'Sydney Switch' the co-location centre opens early in 2001 offering a range of facilities where telecomms fibres can be linked to other networks, Web sites hosted and Internet services managed in a highly specified, secure and resilient environment.

It will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offer dedicated Internet access which can be outsourced without the cost of a leased line and necessary in-house management.

Global Switch CEO Andy Ruhan said the centre will let carriers partner and provide bandwidth and content providers to come to-gether as a community to create economies of scale.

Ruhan said the facility will be capable of housing more than 14,000 high standard racks, each with routers, servers and switches.

The 35,000sq metre building will house high-capacity fibre cable networks, dual grid power transformers, and cooling and electronic equipment.

"We can offer companies everything from a single rack to a suite of servers, online security, network architecture, complete end-to-end solutions," he said.

Ruhan declined to divulge to Computerworld which companies and carriers will be the first Sydney Switch tenants to use the centre, saying: "It's too early to announce who they are but all the leading search engines like Lycos and many of the new carriers that offer video streaming in Australia are all looking to become involved; we anticipate at least 75 per cent of the new carrier market.

"In terms of bandwidth use at the centre we expect it to run into terabytes; bandwidth prices need to come down in Australia."

Global Switch is also opening a centre in Singapore and already has facilities operating in London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt and Toronto.

"Negotiations are under way to move into South America and we expect to make further announcements in the next 60 days," Ruhan said.

The Sydney centre will be located at the old government printing office in Pyrmont, an inner-city location the NSW government is attempting to transform into a communications hub for e-business.

Recent new additions to Pyrmont include the Nortel data centre, Excite@home, Nokia and IBM's e-commerce division.

NSW Treasurer Michael Egan said Pyrmont has been identified as the first IT precinct which will then expand from White Bay (Rozelle) to the airport.

"Sydney will be a huge IT hub in the next few years and this facility will provide the bandwidth we need to be a high tech gateway to the Asia-Pacific region," Egan said.

About 65 jobs will be created by the opening of the centre with a further 300 likely to be generated by its commercial tenants.

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