Google-backed Sydney to Japan cable construction commences

The 9500-kilometre cable will run via Guam

The laying of a Google-backed 9,500-kilometre submarine fibre optic cable linking Sydney to Japan via Guam has commenced.

The link, expected to be completed at the end of next year, will have a capacity of more than 36 terabits per second. Two fibre pairs will connect Japan to Guam, with another two fibre pairs connecting Guam to Sydney. 

The southern section of the cable is backed by a consortium including Google, Australian education and research community communications provider AARNet, and RTI Connectivity. The northern section, between the Japanese city Minami-Boso, Japan and Piti in Guam, is a private cable with RTI as the sole purchaser.

The sections will interconnect at a new landing station in Guam built by local telecoms company GTA Teleguam. The cable is being co-built by Alcatel Submarine Networks and NEC.

The Japan-Guam-Australia (JGA) route
The Japan-Guam-Australia (JGA) route

The project is the latest in a slew of Google-backed undersea cable builds in the APAC region over the last few years. The company’s 12,800 km, 120 Tbps capacity Pacific Light Cable Network (which was also backed by Facebook) linking Hong Kong and Los Angeles is due for completion by the end of the year.

Google is also part of a consortium – along with AARNet, Singtel and Telstra – backing Sydney-Perth-Jakarta-Singapore cable INDIGO which is expected to be finished by mid-2019.

“Taken together, these cable investments provide improved connectivity to Google Cloud Platform’s five cloud regions across Asia and Australia, so that companies using GCP can serve their customers no matter where they are,” said Michael Francois, of Google’s global network infrastructure group.

In January, Google said it had spent US$30 billion improving its infrastructure over the last three years.

“This provides deeply scalable capacity to both our users and Google Cloud Platform customers… Whether we’re delivering directions to Maps users, videos to YouTube viewers, or GCP services to businesses, we know a fast and reliable infrastructure makes all the difference. That’s why we continue to invest in strategic routes, many of which require crossing oceans,” Francois added.

Australian research institutions also stand to benefit from the new connection, explained AARNet CEO Chris Hancock.

“New submarine cable systems are providing a much-needed boost to communications infrastructure into Australia. AARNet’s investment [will help] meet the substantial growth in bandwidth demand for science, research, teaching and learning. This will allow Australian universities to have unconstrained access to meet the big data challenges of the future.”

It is a busy time for cable-layers in Australian waters. Construction of Vocus’ 4,600km submarine cable system which will run from Perth to Singapore via Jakarta and Christmas Island began last week.