According to article at ZDNet by Corinne Reichert, Vocus Communications has announced passing the halfway point on its Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) project, with much of the progress so far being done on civil engineering works and manufacturing. The ASC subsea cable system, worth $170 million, will be laid between February and March 2018.
The cable is being manufactured in Calais, France, by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), while its repeaters are being constructed in Greenwich in the United Kingdom. They will all be assembled in Calais ahead of being shipped to Singapore in December.
The head of Vocus International Luke Mackinnon said "We will perform the final splice in April, enabling the commissioning to begin. That will take place in May and June, giving us a ready-for-service date soon after".
"We expect it to arrive either late December or early January," Mackinnon added.
One third of the cable and repeaters will then be offloaded at Singapore to begin being laid in February by the Ile de Re cable laying ship, while the remaining two thirds will be transferred to the Ile de Batz ship in Christmas Island.
The former ship will lay cable between Singapore and Christmas Island, while the latter will travel from Christmas Island to Perth. Both legs will use different cable-laying techniques, as the first leg of the cable must be buried because it will be laid in the shallow and busy Java Sea route, Vocus said.
"From Singapore to Christmas Island, the cable will be buried up to 4 metres below the seabed using a 40-tonne plough. This is far slower than the usual cable-laying technique; the ship can only move at a few hundred metres per hour," Mackinnon explained.
"The boat laying [the Christmas Island to Perth] section can move far quicker, covering kilometres in an hour."
Vocus had in August confirmed the ASC would be completed ahead of schedule, with services to be launched in July 2018 despite adding a spur to Christmas Island, ahead of competitor cable systems Indigo and Trident.
Vocus signed ASN in December to help build the 4,600 kilometre ASC, which is designed to carry 40Tbps at a minimum across four fibre pairs.
Originally a 50-50 joint-venture deal between Vocus and Nextgen Networks, Vocus subsequently purchased Nextgen Networks for AU$700 million in June 2016, paying an additional AU$27 million for the ASC and AU$134 million for the North West Cable System (NWCS).
The $139 million 2,100km fibre-optic NWCS went live in September 2016.