PIPE's new submarine cable lands in sleepy Collaroy

A new submarine cable that adds 50% to the bandwidth connecting Australia to the world has landed in the Sydney suburb of Collaroy. The cable's operator, PIPE INternaitonal, believes it will drive the price of Internet service down for Australia.

Pipe International yesterday (May 19) landed a new submarine cable in Australia.

Called PPC-1, the cable carries 1.92 terabits per second all the way to Guam, where it links to other cables to speed packets to the rest of the world.

The cable is more than 6,000km long and was laid by a special ship, the Tyco Durable, which lurked offshore on the day of the landing.

The suburban park where PPC-1 was landed today

SearchNetworking ANZ was invited to witness the landing, starting with a chance to view the Durable as it sat offshore.

As we peered at the ship, divers were wrestling the cable through the water into a 1500 metre concrete tunnel through which the cable passed en route to its termination point, 100 metres above sea level in the middle of an unremarkable local soccer field.

As the cable was winched upwards, locals played tennis, blissfully unaware of the reason for the gathering of media and investors in the $200 million project.

PIPE CEO Bevan Slattery, touchingly accompanied by his three children, watched as black fibre cable eventually appeared, before being wound onto a large winch to await connection to a termination facility and data centre in suburban Collaroy.

Slattery PIPE decided to build the cable for three reasons:

“Clients asked for it,” he said. “And we thought we could make some money.”

“We also had no idea how hard it would be.”

But Slattery believes the new cable has already benefited consumers.

“As soon as we announced we were building the cable, other cable operators dropped their prices,” he said.

Other operators were, he added, far from happy about the project.

“I was personally threatened by a tier one carrier,” Slattery said. “I had a very peculiar phone call.”

The cable lands - the small metal lug at left is connected to the cable, while the darker cable at right is the steel cable used to haul the optic fibres ashore.

Nonetheless, Slattery remains open to discussions with any carrier and believes that they will soon be knocking on PIPE’s door as the National Broadband Network (NBN) takes shape.

“One thing we can guarantee is that consumption of bandwidth will rise,” he said, declaring the project “NBN-ready.”

The new cable comprises two fibre pairs, each capable of carrying with 96 10Gbps wavelengths for a total of 960Gbps or 1.92Tbps for the whole cable. Another two fibre pairs reach 120km out to sea, awaiting connection for a future spur to either Tasmania or New Zealand.

Slattery said PPC-1 represents an additional 50% capacity for Australia and added that he expects that once the cable goes live in September, consumers and businesses will be offered greater download allowances and/or lower prices by their Internet service providers.

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