In a significant step towards bolstering the digital connectivity of New Zealand’s South Island, Intelia New Zealand has unveiled plans for a new 3000km subsea cable system. Referred to as the Te Waipounamu cable, it will link Invercargill in New Zealand to Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, marking a major development in trans-Tasman connectivity.
Remi Galasso, the founder of Intelia NZ, characterised the Te Waipounamu cable as a "game changer". He explained, "It's going to significantly enhance the connectivity of New Zealand's South Island, and importantly, it will open up enormous potential for Southland in the realm of sustainable data storage." According to Galasso, this exciting venture presents a splendid challenge for his team, one they are ready to undertake, as they continue to make significant contributions to the digital development of New Zealand.
The innovative project will comprise of a 16-fibre pair system. This includes 4 fibre pairs extending from Invercargill to Australia, capable of up to a total of 120Tbps. Meanwhile, 12 fibre pairs will connect Sydney and Melbourne, each with a capacity of 35Tbps. The link between Sydney and Melbourne plays a strategic role as it presents an alternative and competitive backhauling option between Australia's two most populous cities.
Notably, the Te Waipounamu cable project represents a sizeable investment of NZD 160 million. Perrine Dhalluin, a director at Intelia NZ, revealed that the funding is being secured through a combination of equity, debt, and capacity contract commitments. These commitments come from some of the major industry players on both sides of the Tasman Sea.
The Te Waipounamu cable, upon completion, is set to offer the fastest high-capacity route between New Zealand and Australia. The expedited data transfer speeds, with a latency of fewer than 25 milliseconds, are not just beneficial for Southland. The infrastructure will have far-reaching effects, significantly benefiting New Zealand's second largest city, Christchurch, as well as Dunedin, a city known for its leadership role in the digital development of New Zealand.
The undersea cable will also serve as a critical and strategic infrastructure for the entire country, providing network redundancy for the existing North Island subsea cables. Georges Krebs, Chief Technical Officer at Intelia NZ, outlined the next steps for the project, saying, "Our plan is to finalise a supplier contract by April 2024 and start in parallel the permitting process in order to target a system commissioning by 2026."