High speed international connection? Yes, please

By Grant Jacobs 11/03/2010

Announced just a few hours ago, for me via KAREN on twitter, is an initiative to build a high-speed direct internet connection linking New Zealand, Australian and the U.S.A.

pacific-fibre-mapAlthough the Pacific Fibre website is short on technical details, it does a great job of conveying the essence of the idea simply. Some details are available on their news blog, e.g.

The current proposed cable configuration would be 13,000 km long, and have two fibre pairs with 64 wavelengths (lambdas) each at 40 Gigabits/sec per lambda. The maximum lit capacity initially would be 5.12 Terabits/sec, but would be upgradeable to over 12 Terabits/sec as the emerging 100 Gbit/sec per lambda technology becomes reality. The newer cable and repeater technology that Pacific Fibre proposes to use will be substantially more easily upgradeable than that of existing cables.

pacific-fibre-model-2010They say they aim to have this ready for 2013 and that it is expected to cost around $NZ900M. Whatever the details, I am sure this will have internet users in NZ talking for some time and hatching new business plans. (For example, it would be interesting to learn if this would affect the idea that NZ can act to exploit that it is ~12 hours out of cycle of most of the bigger Western nations to deliver overnight service efficiently.)

pacific-fibre_model-2011It has been noted that those academic researchers whose data transport problems are solved by KAREN, a new network may not be needed. (From what I understand KAREN still has plenty of capacity: anecdotally I’ve heard figures of 5-10% of capacity being used. Viewing their excellent near-live ’weather map’ is worthwhile, try it.)

For those who need fast networking outside of this high-speed academic network, which is most of us, I’m sure this initiative will be widely viewed very positively. It is great to see people taking the lead on these things and pushing for it to get done.

pacific-fibre-model-2012For my personal situation, I need to learn more about it first: my position is more complex as in principle I can gain access to the large databases I use through other means, but being able to deliver large volumes of data may open up new opportunities for me.

Interested readers can follow the Pacific Fibre twitter discussion. Here are a few replies that might be worth others’ reading (comments in square brackets are mine):

  • @kuahyeow Current estimate is under $900m [I presume this is in response to an estimate for the costs.]
  • RT @ronanq: Best of luck. Great fibre connections is one of the reasons Google, Amazon, Paypal, Microsoft, Facebook and IBM are in Ireland
  • @sam_DPS we will sell to ISPs and major corporates. We are aiming for prices which will let them fulfll the uncapped high speed mandate
  • @samfarrow just international – we are focussing on just that one part of the problem. Others are working on the rest.
  • RT @Pete_Robson:As a former “Senior Product Manager” of the current SouthernCross Cable, I can safely say that there’s $ in that Awesome job

Peter Griffin, writing at idealog, has more detailed coverage.

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