Telstra upgrades submarine cables for Asia drive

Telstra has upgraded multiple submarine cables in the Asia-Pacific region as part of the telco’s strategic focus on the Asian market.

Telstra upgraded multiple ultra-long haul submarine cable routes during the previous quarter to support 100 Gbps speeds in the core.

The cables include Endeavour, a 9000 km submarine cable connecting Sydney and Hawaii; Reach North Asia Loop (RNAL), a 9000 km cable acquired from Reach Global Services connecting Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea; and Asia America Gateway (AAG), a 20,191 km cable connecting Southeast Asia and the US.

"Demand for network services in the Asia Pacific region is growing exponentially and the addition of Infinera’s DTN-X platform means we will be well placed to meet the speed and capacity needs of our customers," said Telstra Global chief operating officer, Darrin Webb.

Telstra CEO David Thodey has identified Asia as a key growth area for the Australian telecom leader.

“The reality for a company like Telstra is that we must become more and more involved in Asia,” Thodey said in October. “We just don’t have an option.”

The upgrades have been made completely at the terminal ends and the underwater cable itself has not been modified, Infinera's Steve Grubb told Computerworld Australia

The upgrade provides Telstra a mesh network of 500 Gbps super channels with soft-decision forward error correction (SD-FEC), providing higher speeds over long distances. The network can be upgraded in the future to support 1 Tbps channels, he said.

The upgrade includes FlexCoherent modulation, which allows one common card to be installed at each landing point. This card can be adjusted to multiple modulation formats, preventing the need to buy multiple cards and reducing operational costs, Grubb said.

The upgrade also enables Telstra to turn up new services rapidly by integrating submarine and terrestrial networks, he said.

“Traditionally, these submarine networks have been very standalone networks and they terminate at the cable landing station, and then there’s separate retransmission to a head end” like downtown Sydney, he said.

In addition, Grubb said the upgrade increases the resiliency of the submarine cable network through shared mesh protection. This feature minimises downtime in the case of multiple fibre cuts, which can happen during an earthquake.

In the past, recovery from such a crisis could take “from hours to days,” he said. With the upgrade, Telstra can pre-program a backup route. “We’re hardware ready to [restore service] in 50 milliseconds,” said Grubb.

Last week, Infinera announced a similar submarine cable upgrade by its customer Australia Japan Cable (AJC), a consortium that includes Telstra, ATT, NTT, Verizon and Softbank. AJC deployed an optical transport network its 12,700 km submarine fiber optic cable network.

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