Network |

Breaking ground on the fibre network of the future

By Brendon Riley March 15, 2022

Today we started on the journey to deliver tomorrow’s connectivity. It’s a significant step toward the fibre network Australia deserves.

It’s the fibre network that will power everything from small businesses selling to their local neighbourhood, through to cutting-edge Australian innovators creating their businesses in the metaverse.

Using our special fibre-laying dozers and a lot of local know-how, today we’ve kicked off a program of work that will deliver real value to Australians and the economy for years to come.

It represents us breaking ground to actually deliver on the fibre network of the future. The one Australia deserves, that will give us the connectivity we need for the coming decades.

Breaking ground today is especially significant, considering we only announced the project a matter of weeks ago and we’re already rolling it out.

What is the fibre network of the future?

We saw a huge explosion of data being used during the pandemic, and that isn’t about to go away. We’re starting down an unprecedented digital future, and we want to enable Aussies to do business on the world-stage.

So over the next five years, we will be rolling out an upgrade to our existing national fibre network that will add a dual path of more than 20,000 route kilometres.

The network will be bolstered with high-speed, low-latency connectivity in mind to provide transmission rates over 650Gbps – six times the common rate of 100Gbps today. You can check out the full details on our announcement post from February.

Where will the fibre tech be rolling out?

The answer to this question is – all over Australia across the next five years.

As of today, we’ve kicked off construction in my home state – Western Australia. Between Bakers Hill and Northam, to be exact. We’ll soon also start ploughing on the opposite side of the country, in Orange, in NSW. We’ve chosen these initial locations to strategically test our new ‘dual plough’ tractors in diverse terrains.

It’s important that we do our initial installation projects in regional areas because this is not just an “intercapital” fibre network for cities.

What’s unique about our fibre project is it’s a dual cable network, on each fibre route. The first cable will be an express (intercapital) direct fibre network between capital cities, designed for our customers seeking point-to-point dark fibre over long distances. And the second cable will provide connectivity to regional locations and centres via break out and access points.

The network is also uniquely Australian, using a Sydney fibre provider’s cables that have been adapted to be more resilient to our sometimes harsh conditions.

It forms part of our ambitious T25 transformation goal for InfraCo, to deliver profitable growth and value by improving access, utilisation and scale of our infrastructure.

Network |

How we’re building the fibre network of the future

By Brendon Riley February 2, 2022

As we edge further into a digital century, it’s clear that data is king. How much data you have; how fast it moves, and how much you can send are the currency of the digital realm.

There’s more demand than ever for fast and capable networks to shuttle around huge amounts of data as the world digitises at an astronomical pace.

Our hyper-connected age now needs a hyper-connected network so Aussies can stay on the cutting edge of the global digital economy. That’s why we’re spending up big on a new state-of-the-art fibre network.

We’ll be building all new inter-city dual fibre paths to make sure Australia has the network it deserves.

Here’s what it all means.

Bolstering our fibre network

Over the next five years we will be bolstering our national fibre network, adding 20,000 new route kilometres. The ambition is to improve the size, reach and bandwidth of our already extensive optical fibre network.

The new fibre paths will boost capacity, speed and meet the needs of a burgeoning digital nation, and this project will deliver tomorrow’s connectivity today.

The new fibre technology will enable ultrafast connectivity between capital cities as well as into regional and remote communities. This will support remote working and education needs, health services, high-definition entertainment consumption and online gaming and IoT use cases such as mining and agriculture.

The new fibre technology we’re deploying will build upon the existing fibre network we have today, as well as our substantial sub-sea routes, with which we can provide end to end solutions on a global scale.

The new inter city, dual path ultra-high capacity, low-latency fibre will enable whopping transmission rates of 650Gbps (over six times today’s common rate of 100Gbps). It will enable express connectivity between capital cities up to 55Tbps per fibre pair capacity (over six times today’s typical capacity of 8.8Tbps per fibre pair) on routes such as Sydney – Melbourne; Sydney-Brisbane; and Perth-Sydney.

Translation: it’s fast. Really fast. Fast enough to drive Australia into the next three decades of connectivity and into a top spot on the world stage.

We’re working with our industry-leading optical fibre and cable providers, Corning Incorporated and Prysmian to get this project done. Prysmian’s cable has been developed to Australia’s unique environmental conditions and will be completely designed and manufactured locally on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Corning’s SMF-28® ULL fibre with advanced bend enables a compact cable design while providing greater transmission capacity and lower latency over this new long-haul network.

We’ll be kicking off this project in late FY22, and together with our Viasat project, we will invest an additional ~$350 million of capex per year outside of our BAU capex* envelope over the next three years to get both projects done.

It forms part of our ambitious T25 transformation goal for InfraCo, to deliver profitable growth and value by improving access, utilisation and scale of our infrastructure.

This is a massive milestone for us at InfraCo and for Telstra as we continue to operate and improve the networks of the future.

Southern Cross Subsea Cable Network route survey
Everyone connected | Network | Tech and Innovation |

Keeping Australia connected to the world

By Harry Tucker December 18, 2021

A lot of us think that every Instagram post we upload, Tweet we send or movie we stream comes to Australia through satellites, but the truth lies at the depths of our oceans.

For Australians, about 99% of our digital connectivity to the rest of the world comes through underwater subsea cables. We currently own or operate about 400,000km of these cables across the ocean floor – so much in fact, that you could lap the world 10 times with that amount of cable.

Just about every bit of communication we make goes through these cables. From calling your family overseas to streaming Formula 1 and versing someone in Fortnite from Singapore. Basically anything and everything.

A short history of subsea cables

Australia’s first subsea cable went from Darwin to Indonesia almost 150 years ago. Back then, it wasn’t for streaming Netflix, but was rather a telegraph cable that essentially transmitted Morse code. Transmitting just one word back then could take several minutes.

The first major advancement in Australia’s subsea cables came in the 1960s with our first telephone cable which connected Sydney to Canada via New Zealand called COMPAC and cost over $100 million to complete. It might seem like a bit of a weird connection , but this was because it connected Commonwealth countries. Not only did this cable allow us to make phone calls to New Zealand and Canada, it also was crucial for airports and shipping companies to be able to communicate. COMPAC and other Commonwealth cables such as SEACOM (Cairns to Hong Kong) and ANZCAN (replaced COMPAC), were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

The COMPAC cable was the first of many analogue cable systems that connected Australia to the rest of the world, but as the internet started to gain popularity in the 1990s they were no longer enough to carry the huge of amounts of data growth that was to come.

This ushered in the era we are in now of optical fibre cables, capable of 1000s of times the amount of capacity as traditional analogue cables. Using rapid pulses of laser light carried by hair-thin glass strands, this new technology could transmit data at much higher capacity and drastically reduce delay, or latency as it’s often called.

Our first fibre cable was called the TASMAN2 and connected Australia with New Zealand from 1992, capable of transmitting around 1 gigabit per second, or about as much as a lot of individual homes can now access just on their own.

Just 9 years later, cables we were laying, like the Australia-Japan cable were now capable of speeds of up to 640 gigabits per second state of the art at the time.

Keeping the light on

Manufacturing, laying and connection subsea cables across the ocean is a big task on its own, but maintaining them can sometimes prove almost as difficult.

Some of our cables run thousands of metres underwater, with one cable connecting us to Guam that crosses the Mariana Trench, the deepest water in the planet. So fixing one of these is not quite the same as pulling the manhole off on the side of the road.

Even just getting the grappling hook down to the cable to get to it to repair any damage can take a whole day just to reach it.

Thankfully though, it’s quite rare for damage to occur at these depths, as most damage to subsea cables is caused by fishing gear and ship anchors. So most damage happens in relatively shallow waters of around 100-1000 metres below the surface where fishing activity is more likely to take place and get caught up with.

We also sometimes see damage happen due to subsea earthquakes or from big landslides after cyclones and typhoons. But as technology gets better at marine surveying, these are becoming less of an issue as we can use advanced sonar techniques to better understand the environment we lay these cables in.

While surveying, our teams have even discovered underwater volcanoes that have never been recorded before, which we of course avoid routing the cables near.

60 years ago if a cable went down it might cause a big problem with our ability to connect. These days with such a diverse and large network path, if a cable is broken and getting repaired, which can take about a week, it’s less of an issue. Now we’re able to reroute traffic to other cable segments.

With a growing demand for data and connecting to the world, we continuously need to upgrade or commission new cables. Our latest subsea cable is called INDIGO and connects Singapore, Perth, Sydney and Jakarta, with a mammoth 36 terabit capacity, enough to steam millions of movies a second.

We’ve come a long way from the days of waiting minutes to send a single word from Darwin to Indonesia.

Connecting Australia to the world is why.

Business and Enterprise | Regional | Small Business | Telstra News |

Supporting schools and business in regional Australia

By David Burns June 15, 2021

This is the first time regional areas in Australia have been able to access up to 10Gbps internet services, opening up business and learning opportunities previously limited to big cities.

We think the future of connectivity shouldn’t just be about big cities, and that businesses and students should thrive no matter where their office or school is. After some big regional network upgrades across New South Wales recently, whether you’re in the Central West or Sydney, organisations can now access up to 10Gbps internet services.

Recent major upgrades to our fixed network across 525 exchange locations in regional NSW will bring substantial capacity improvements and help address digital access equality for the first time to many regional towns and centres.

NSW public schools are one of the first major recipients of the benefits the upgraded network will bring, with all 2200+ schools getting a big boost to their internet connections, with some schools seeing their total shared bandwidth upgraded by 15x their previous capacity.

We’ve already started moving schools on to our upgraded network, with Dubbo College Senior Campus in NSW’s Central West getting a multi gigabit capacity boost of almost 10x its previous connection the school shares across all its students and staff.

We are making good progress with delivering these higher bandwidths, upgrading around 50 schools a week which will continue throughout the rest of the year. Working closely with the NSW Department of Education, we are helping to improve digital equality across all public schools, including sites in very remote locations.

Big boost for regional businesses

But it’s not just schools that will benefit from our upgraded regional network, as businesses across NSW will also be able to access ultra-fast internet for the first time.

With a lot of us spending the last year working from home, or indeed leaving the big smoke for a tree or sea change, the ubiquitous nature of video calls has proven that for many us, business can be done from anywhere there’s a solid internet connection.

By boosting our regional networks, businesses and their employees can work from Grafton, for example, with the same quality of connection that they would have working from Sydney’s CBD.

Ultra-fast broadband means regional businesses can embrace new technologies and compete with bigger companies from the city, with capacity now to work with technologies like Augmented Reality, advanced analytics and Artificial Intelligence.

With connectivity infrastructure no longer an issue, businesses in the city have the real option to do their own tree change and move completely or open up new locations in regional towns.

Things like start-up hubs can now also think about opening or expanding outside of cities, with enough bandwidth to run hot new tech companies who need fast, reliable internet, potentially bringing huge job and economic growth to these areas.

Our upgraded network

For businesses and schools trying to operate on low-bandwidth connections, it can make their work extremely difficult, resulting in poor productivity and fewer opportunities for growth.

For city-dwellers, it’s akin to how your 50Mbps home connection might start feeling when the whole family is trying to dial in to a video call or stream their latest lecture. Now that’s just four or five people trying to use high bandwidth applications – imagine your frustration with an office full of people all trying to access the internet at once with only a bit more capacity.

Upgrading our exchanges brings internet capacity closer to regional centres, greatly increasing the speeds our regional customers’ get as a result.

We started upgrading our network in September last year, with close to 2200 of these locations already connected with fibre that now no longer require to be served internet via our Sydney hub. Having Telstra fibre there already, meant for a lot of those sites, our upgrades mostly needed to take place just at the exchanges with minimal ground digging and cables.

We’re excited to be connecting more Australians in more places to fast internet, and we’ll be continuing to upgrade our regional NSW network, with the aim to have these finished by the end of this year.

Business and Enterprise |

Delivering A-Grade connections to classrooms

By Michael Ebeid AM October 20, 2020

While the chalkboard, or whiteboard in most cases these days, will always have a place in our classrooms, the keyboard is a great educational equaliser for students. That’s why we are significantly boosting New South Wales schools’ internet speeds and connecting some of the state’s most remote students to high-speed fibre optic cable.

Connectivity and access to modern education tools are vital to ensuring the future of education is delivered to our students. It can open new educational possibilities, broaden horizons, open up a richer curriculum and enhance student collaboration to create modern learning environments.

Since 2009, we’ve been working hard with the NSW Department of Education to connect the state’s 2,200plus schools to fibre optic cable. Now, under an extended partnership with the NSW Government we will soon achieve a special milestone – the last 12 mainland schools, all in remote parts of the state, will be hooked up to this high-speed solution. All up, we will have rolled out more than 5,200km of fibre across the state once this project is complete. To put it into perspective, that’s equivalent to three round trips between Sydney and Tweed Heads, making it one of the largest fibre networks in the world.

In addition, we will also be boosting internet speeds 10-fold on average for all NSW schools through a massive capacity upgrade across the state’s education network.

The twelve schools are Naradhan, Colo Heights, Weilmoringle, Louth, Enngonia, Clare, Booligal, Wanaaring, North Star, Upper Coopers, Wattle and MacDonald.

We know that digital inclusion, particularly for students, is a lead indicator for future employment opportunities. With this partnership, all students across NSW will have access to the amazing learning opportunities that quality, high speed connectivity brings, whether they live in Neutral Bay or North Star.

With faster connectivity, students will not only download websites and videos much faster, they’ll be able to video conference and collaborate. It also sets them up for future digital education tools such as augmented or virtual reality applications in the classroom.

We’re proud to be continuing this work, particularly when we hear firsthand from the young people who are accessing a whole new world of education, like the kids at Conargo Public School, in the state’s south west. They enjoyed a tour of our worksite when we were in town laying fibre, and now they’re enjoying its benefits. We look forward to delivering an even faster future for them.