Massive investment in undersea fibre optic project may sidestep Australia

Although more than $US15 billion will be invested in trans-Pacific undersea fibre optic systems by 2003, Australia will miss out on much of the action.

"While there is new cable going to Australia, most notably the Southern Cross Cable Network (online this year), SEA-ME-WE 3 (online last year), and Australia-Japan (online in 2001), Australia will not see most of the planned deployments," said Stacey Yates, director of market research at KMI Corporation.

However, Yates said the new systems will "significantly increase the amount of capacity into and out of Australia".

And given an open market and normal market conditions, this should improve quality of service and lower costs, Yates added.

Undersea fibre optic systems are used for Internet access, other data applications (including corporate data), and voice and are used by international carriers, Internet service providers, and IP backbone operators.

Yates said undersea cables provide higher bandwidth and better quality than other forms of access, such as satellite. "The quality of the capacity will be better and faster, which is always a plus for IT managers.""Also, bandwidth on undersea cable should be much less expensive than via satellite," she added.

These findings were highlighted in KMI Corporation's latest report, "2000 Worldwide summary of fibre optic undersea systems", which provides detailed compilation of systems analysis, tracking more than 800 links comprising 325 undersea fibre optic systems by capacity, landing point, cost, cut-over data, suppliers and owners.

The traditional Australian operators, Telstra and Cable & Wireless Optus, are the main companies involved in the undersea cable developments into Australia.

The Southern Cross Cable Network is jointly owned by Cable & Wireless Optus, TCNZ and MCIWorldcom.

The Australia-Japan link is being developed by many international operators, but Telstra is the driving force.

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