Tag: subsea-cables

Network evolution in 2020 and beyond


Posted on January 20, 2020

5 min read

Standing at the outset of a new decade, it’s tempting to indulge in far-reaching predictions and flights of fancy as we imagine what could happen over the next ten years. But, looking at the international network industry, it’s clear we are in a time of steady evolution rather than a radical revolution.

So how will connectivity continue to evolve beyond 2020, and what are the challenges and opportunities for infrastructure providers and operators, Over The Top (OTTs) over an IP network and carriers?

Changing consumption drivers

Firstly, it is critical to explore how and why consumption is changing.

Recent research by TeleGeography has found that demand for international bandwidth is more than doubling every two years, a trend consistent with what Telstra is seeing on its leading APAC subsea network.

That’s being driven by use cases like business data and video, but also by growing consumer trends. Take the boom in online gaming as an obvious case in point.

Data use from gaming is less than video streaming (for now) – as Kotaku notes, “data use from gaming is much lower than streaming video: on average, games will only use around a third of the data of streaming Netflix in SD, let alone HD or 4K streaming.”

Yet, whether it’s FIFA, Fortnite, or League of Legends, online gaming is a big business that requires significant capacity, global connectivity, and reliable availability and latency.

To meet this demand, companies are investing in existing networks and in new infrastructure.

The centre of gravity for connectivity-driven growth is shifting toward Asia, which comprises both developed and fast-growing economies.

That emphasis is acting as a catalyst for both consumption and investment. At the regional level, the pace of international bandwidth demand growth will be the most rapid in Asia where demand is expected to increase 45% compounded annually between 2018 and 2025.

Underpinning that demand are a range of new and improved routes for data to travel across the globe. Cables with a combined construction cost of USD$7.9 billion entered service between 2016 and 2018. Based on publicly announced planned cables, an additional $7.4 billion worth of new cables will be launched between 2019 and 2021.

The impact of SDM submarine cables

The introduction of coherent optical technology has improved total optical power (TOP) and the Optical Signal to Noise Ratio (OSNR), enabling more data to be transmitted through a fibre optic cable. Maximising capacity per fibre pair has become the driver in submarine cable development. In the last 18 months, however, this has changed with the advent of Space Division Multiplex (SDM) cables. While such cables offer lower capacity and OSNR per fibre pair, in some instances they almost carry double the number of fibre pairs at the same cost point.

Reducing the power per fibre pair also allows for a larger number of repeaters and fibre pairs in a system. While it was rare to see cables of more than six fibre pairs a few years ago, SDM cables are now designed with up to 16 fibre pairs or more.

The increasing adoption of SDM increases the overall cost-efficiency of international networking – enabling lower unit and capacity costs on high volume routes or traffic between data centres. Yet that also increasingly commoditises that connectivity, particularly on major, high volume routes.

The challenge for carriers will be underlining the value inherent in additional service layers to customers.

Investment in unique routes as a differentiator

OTTs and cable providers are increasingly differentiating by investing in diversity and uniqueness across their infrastructure. For example, we have invested heavily in the uniqueness of our routes in areas often affected by natural disasters.

Our investment in the HKA route, coupled with our unique Taiwan overland route, allow us to bypass the disaster-prone Luzon Strait in connecting to Hong Kong. This offers significant benefits to customers looking for the reassurance and reliability such diversity offers.

With many of our customers building their own overlay networks, data centre to data centre connectivity is becoming increasingly critical, requiring unique and diverse pathing beyond cables alone to drive end-to-end connectivity.

While there is an increasing trend toward such investment, it remains costly and time-consuming. Realising those benefits requires investment in licensing costs, backhaul networks, and regulatory approvals and compliance. 

That’s why access to existing infrastructure is still critical – and ownership of multiple cable segments landing across key Asian markets like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan and Korea enables improved management and control.

These developments in networking infrastructure underline the importance of partnership between stakeholders, relying on expertise and experience in the planning, creation, and management of global networks.

We are one of the leaders in transporting the data that enables millions of consumers and businesses to connect to the Internet and with each other around the world.

Our subsea network is a key part of our international growth strategy, enabling the services we provide to large and emerging cloud and content companies, global and regional mobile and service providers, as well as multinational corporations requiring connectivity across APAC.

Telstra will continue to invest to maintain our network leadership. This includes a commitment to investing in additional capacity on the Australia to US route, as well as investing in terrestrial networks in Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines, to expand on our already unique positions there. 

Tags: subsea cables,

Boosting Australia’s connection to the world with Southern Cross

Business and Enterprise

Posted on October 2, 2019

3 min read

As we continue to develop the fast, high-capacity, low-latency networks that connect Australians to each other, we must also think about how we connect to the rest of the world. That’s why we’ve been working hard with our partners at the Southern Cross Cable Network to strengthen our investment in current infrastructure while planning for future growth.

72,000 leagues under the sea

You could be forgiven for thinking that connectivity between countries was predominately handled by satellites and other space-based infrastructure. In fact, the real solutions are buried deep beneath the waves. Subsea cables form a crucial part of our international network infrastructure.

Telstra operates the largest intra-Asia subsea cable network in the region, and we’re growing our footprint in Asia-Pacific with critical new cable paths. Our subsea cable network currently spans more than 400,000 kilometres – or just under 72,000 nautical leagues – under the sea. Jules Verne would be proud!

Such a vast network is enough to circle the globe more than 10 times over. This elaborate and impressive network of fibre optic cables continues to expand as we keep pace with the voracious appetite Australians have for high-speed data. But more than just planning for capacity, we’re mindful that we need to build resiliency at the same time as speed.

That’s where our investment with Southern Cross Cable Network comes in.

Almost 80 per cent of all internet traffic to Australia comes from the US, which makes the need for a high-speed and low-latency connection between our two nations paramount. Our new investment in the Southern Cross Cable Network’s (SCCN) existing cable infrastructure as well as the upcoming NEXT cable is about safeguarding that connectivity for the future.

Telstra has acquired a 25 per cent equity interest in the existing Southern Cross Cable Network, joining existing shareholders in the project. It follows several other investments in our subsea cable infrastructure, including:

  • A significant increase in fibre capacity to our subsea infrastructure using Infinera’s Infinite Capacity Engine 4, and
  • The launch of a new rapid restoration service on our assured availability “Always on” service – a world-first offering to key routes in Asia – reducing restoration time from within eight hours to just minutes.

The investment in Southern Cross builds on our existing footprint across Asia-Pacific where we carry over 30 per cent of the region’s active capacity.

Alongside these investments, we’re excited to also partner with SCCN as one of the anchor customer for its upcoming NEXT cable. Designed to carry 72 Terabits per second of traffic, the equivalent of simultaneously streaming 4.6 million ultra-high definition movies, Southern Cross’s NEXT will meet our customers’ growing data requirements well into the future.

With the completion of the Southern Cross NEXT cable scheduled for January 2022, Telstra customers will have access to capacity across the three routes across the Pacific, connecting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the United States, maximising diversity and resiliency.

Thanks to our subsea investments, we are now well placed to meet the growing data requirements of our customers now and into the future, right across the Asia-Pacific region.

Making sure our undersea cables are always on

Business and Enterprise

Posted on July 11, 2019

2 min read

Our subsea cables are unsung connectivity heroes. Every day, terabytes of data are passed through these routes as they sit under the surface of some of the busiest and most turbulent seas in the world. Their importance can’t be overstated, which is why we’re making sure that from today they’re always on.

Together with Ericsson and Ciena, we’re turning on what’s called continuous connection for our subsea cabling. Using Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme solution, we’re able to build an ‘always on’ service that reconnects interrupted subsea cable traffic in minutes, not hours. This means automatic reconnection and greater resiliency on our routes from Singapore to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Japan and Japan to Singapore.

We have the largest subsea cable network in the Asia Pacific, and protecting it means making sure everyone knows where these invisible backbones of the internet are so they can take care.

We work with commercial transport vessels to ensure they know the location of our cables via the Automatic Identification System (AIS) while also meeting local fishing vessel crews and unions to let them know where our cables are. These fishing vessels are also given ways to contact us just in case they catch a cable instead of a fish.

Because of the care we’ve taken educating and protecting our infrastructure, we’ve achieved a 30 per cent reduction in impacts to our network service year-on-year. And with our always-on service now going live, we’re further improving uptime and resiliency.

Now if a route is damaged or interrupted, our always on technology will be able to switch traffic to another cable within minutes. Previously this process would have taken hours of work. This now means that our carrier customers (such as financial services organisations and cloud service providers) can improve their service level agreements (SLAs) to provide better uptime to their customers.

We’ve already been helping cloud service providers do business faster and with greater reliability on our Asia Pacific routes during testing, and with the official launch, we’re excited to bring these improvements to all our customers.

Tags: subsea cables,

From Phnom Penh to Indigo West: three decades of connecting Asia

Business and Enterprise

Posted on June 25, 2019

3 min read

When it comes to creating telecommunications infrastructure, there’s not much that Andrew Hankins, Head of Network Evolution for Telstra Enterprise, hasn’t seen in his 30 years at Telstra. Here he looks back on some of his experiences, from Phnom Penh to San Francisco, where he helped create the networks that deliver connectivity as we know it in Asia Pacific today. 

When you think about the most connected places in the world, you might instinctively think of New York or Silicon Valley. But really you need to look to Asia Pacific where Hong Kong and Singapore lead the way. 

Recently, together with our consortium partners, we announced the Indigo West subsea cable was ready for service. Indigo has a capacity of 36 terabytes per second and promises very low latency connection between Perth and Singapore. It is one of the first ‘open cables’ and deploys cutting-edge engineering to offer about 200,000 times more capacity than cables carried in the 1980s

It’s fair to say things have changed since I first started at the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (the OTC – now Telstra). In fact, Indigo West is just one of many milestones in telecoms history I have witnessed in my 30 years at Telstra. 

In at the deep end 

My experiences in Asia started in the late 1980s. The OTC sent me to Cambodia where, like some other countries in the region at the time, networks were almost non-existent.  

Our first job was building out international connectivity with satellite stations in the country’s capital Phnom Penh. If you wanted to make a call out of the country, you had to connect to the circuits running either to Hanoi or Moscow. It was certainly a new experience given this was around the time of the end of the Cold War and fall of the Berlin Wall. 

Unlike my first postings at the Elizabeth Street office and the Oxford Falls Satellite station testing new antennas in the comfortable surrounds of Sydney’s suburbs, our work in Cambodia was characterised by frequent blackouts and trips to the Russian embassy to stock up on cornflakes. 

The United Nations arrived in 1992 with a mandate to restore civil government, hold elections and rehabilitate a country ravaged by civil war and military occupation.  

As the UN embarked on a nation-building program, we built a communications network for around 22,000 military and civilian personnel. This included the first mobile network in the country.  

Even with the UN’s large presence, it wasn’t without its challenges. Each network site had to be checked and cleared of landmines before we could start construction. And members of our team had to travel to the Khmer Rouge heartlands to install phone lines and satellite links.  

Soon the telecom market began to open up. Three mobile phone companies were allowed to set up and operate in the country. Between 1992 and 1995 we built a larger international exchange and infrastructure to connect the mobile phone networks. 

Starting from scratch, Cambodia effectively leapfrogged generations of technology, including copper fixed lines. At one point, the country had one of the highest ratios of mobiles to fixed line connections in the world. And that has continued to this day with over 25 million active mobile subscriptions for a country of 16.4 million people

Our long history in Asia – a lot more than just cables and PoPs

Business and Enterprise

Posted on June 24, 2019

5 min read

As the telecommunications industry gathers in Atlanta for ITW, it’s normal for companies to focus on what’s new.

Announcements like our deployment of the brand new high-speed INDIGO cable between Singapore and Australia or our expansion of our ‘Always-on’ connection service which is aimed at providing continuous connection on our busiest Asian routes represent important developments both for us and our customers – the latest investments we have made in enhancing global connectivity and our subsea cable network.

It is also, however, a time to reflect on the entirety of what we do and highlight some of the lesser reported facts about connecting the world to Asia – and Asia to the world.

Building and operating the largest subsea cable network in APAC with 30 per cent of the lit intra-Asia capacity is not easy. But in addition to that, we have also built a strong in-country footprint across the region in markets with different languages, cultural norms, climatic conditions, not to mention complex access regimes. That’s why we’re extremely proud of the work we’ve done to become the number one foreign telecommunications provider in South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines – and one of the top few in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.*

A shared experience creating Asian connectivity

These achievements are founded on a long history on the ground in Asia.

From the development of the first international networks into Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to work on the first Hong Kong to Singapore cable, we have been deeply involved in delivering connectivity in Asia. We were instrumental in the development on the first mobile networks in India and Sri Lanka, as well as the first 2G network in Thailand.

We are honoured to have contributed to these developments, and even more proud that some of the people who achieved these feats are still with us today more than 30 years later.

An ongoing commitment to in-country Asian expertise

Today, Asia is booming. The region’s economic rise has seen it called the “world growth engine”, driven by countries that make up more than 60 per cent of the world’s population, and those people are demanding connectivity!

By 2022, it’s expected that Asian IP traffic will grow by 32 per cent every year, ultimately carrying as much as 5.7 exabytes every day – more than every word ever spoken by human beings.

And we are playing a vital role in supporting this growth. In January, Telstra made an investment on the Japan to US route on the new-generation New Cross Pacific cable. These investments are part of a long-term strategy to capture data demand across Asia and the Pacific, in conjunction with our leading position on the HK-US route and investment in both Hong Kong Americas and Pacific Light Cable Network.

When it comes to infrastructure we continue to: build out our subsea cable network boosting capacity and resiliency delivering our always on promise, increase our investment in our backhaul network across China, Taiwan, Japan & Korea, and be at forefront of providing connectivity between US & China.

But technology and connectivity don’t meet all our customers’ needs. That’s why we continue to build our local presence and engage with the local governments and the business community, to offer local service, support and counsel to customers around the world.

Relationship goals: milestones in key markets

This enviable position is due to our culture of partnering with our customers, and of having strong engineering expertise and an exemplary service record.

We have engaged local staff, forged public and private partnerships, and invested in domestic infrastructure making it easier for our customers to do business across mainland China, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan and more.

This year marks a decade of operations for our Telstra PBS joint venture in China, founded on the strength of our long-term relationships with Chinese partners. We were the first Sino-foreign joint venture with a cross-provincial IPVPN license in mainland China, building and operating data centres, IPVPN networks and backhaul that now extend to 47 PoPs in 37 cities – with more coming soon. We are the only western Telco with approval for cross border VPN into China.

We also celebrate our fifth anniversary of telkomtelstra in Indonesia; our joint venture with Indonesia’s largest carrier Telkom. Marrying Telkom’s extensive domestic network capability and infrastructure with our international and service capabilities, we offer end-to-end managed solutions across Indonesia.

Connect to Asian expertise

Individually, each of these developments offers answers to some of our customers’ biggest challenges in looking to connect with Asian growth.

But all together they underline the strength of our commitment – both in the ongoing development of our subsea network and our extensive, unique in-country people & asset footprint – to support our customers do business in Asia in bigger and better ways.

* Assessment based on three criteria, including each of total number of in-country employees, total in-country revenue and domestic network footprint.