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Another undersea cable to link us to the world

Peter Griffin, Editor. 07 July 2022, 1:03 pm

Southern Cross Cables has launched the SX NEXT fibre cable spanning 15,840km and linking Sydney to Los Angeles via Auckland, Fiji, Tokelau and Kiribati.

The cable is capable of carrying 72 terabits of data per second, “effectively doubling New Zealand’s direct international connectivity capability to the USA,” according to Southern Cross, which is owned by Spark, alongside SingTel Optus, Verizon and Telstra.

The cable, which augments the ageing main Southern Cross cable which went live in 2000 and significantly boosted the country’s international bandwidth just as the internet was taking off, arrives ahead of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft launching their own data centre regions in New Zealand, with “hyperscale” computer processing facilities being built in the Auckland region.

The expanded Southern Cross cable network

The additional cable capacity will accommodate our rapidly increasing data consumption, but ensure data and workloads being sent to and from our growing fleet of high-capacity data centres, have optimised routes to offshore locations.

“Not only is NEXT the first of the replacement cables for our existing systems when they retire in 2030, it also completes the trifecta for us,” says Southern Cross Cables Limited CEO, Mr Laurie Miller.

“Southern Cross is currently the provider of the lowest latency routes between Sydney and Auckland, along with Auckland to Los Angeles, and will now add the lowest latency route between Sydney and Los Angeles to our portfolio,” he adds.

Taking in Fiji, Tokelau and Kiribati will also add some much-needed capacity for our Pacific island neighbours. Tonga’s international data connectivity was crippled in December when a massive eruption took out an undersea connection to the island nation. The more diversity we have going between the islands and major nations, the more resilient Pacific nations and their economies become.

The lower latency claimed on the new SX NEXT cable will appeal to those offering real-time applications, such as online gaming, to businesses and consumers that require access to offshore servers. 

With a branch of SX Next heading south into Auckland, our biggest city is now a hub of blogal internet connectivity. However, rival Hawaiki, which also has a Pacific-spanning cable that passes through Auckland, also has plans to connect the south of the country, with Hawaii Nui, a cable which will feature spurs into Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch.

It is the first international subsea cable to specifically serve the South Island and will support the Datagrid venture Hawaiki's founders are also behind, which aims to build a supercomputing centre in Southland.


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