Vocus, Australia’s specialist fibre and network solutions provider, has switched on the first international fibre-optic cable into Darwin, cementing Australia’s North as a new entry point for international data and establishing Darwin as a key digital hub for the Asia Pacific.

The new $100 million, 1,000km cable links Vocus’ existing North-West Cable System, which runs from Darwin to Port Hedland, with Vocus’ Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) from Perth to Singapore. Combined, these cables form the DJSC system, a $500 million total investment stretching 7,700 kilometres between Darwin and Singapore – enabling low-latency connectivity between Australia’s North and Asia. The activation of the DJSC establishes Darwin and Port Hedland as the fourth and fifth Australian entry points for international connectivity, after Sydney, Perth, and Maroochydore.

The DJSC is a key part of Vocus’ $1 billion investment strategy, which also includes ‘Project Horizon’, a new 2,000km inland fibre route from Perth to Port Hedland. Project Horizon will connect with the DJSC in Port Hedland, establishing a redundant fibre path between Perth and Singapore through the Pilbara while bringing competitive fibre to Australia’s primary resources region for the first time.

Vocus Chief Executive Officer Ellie Sweeney said:

“Submarine cables are the superhighways of the global internet, carrying 97% of global internet traffic between major data centres. The DJSC system will deliver this high-capacity connectivity straight into the heart of Darwin, establishing Australia’s North as a new data hub for the Asia Pacific region.”

“The DJSC connects to the ‘Terabit Territory’ intercapital fibre backbone from Darwin to Adelaide and Brisbane, which Vocus upgraded with a 25-times capacity increase in 2021. Combined, with DJSC and Terabit Territory fibre network allow data from the Singapore to flow through Darwin to all mainland capitals on Vocus’ national fibre network.”

Commonwealth Minister for Communications, the Hon. Michelle Rowland MP, said the switch-on of the cable marked an important milestone in Australia’s connectivity with the world:

“The new Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore Cable system is fantastic news for Northern Australia. This project will help narrow the digital divide, support more reliable communications into the future, and establish Darwin as a leading connectivity hub in the region,” she said. Diversification of our international cable landing points is strategically important for Australia’s telecommunications resilience. Removing our reliance on a single cable landing point minimises vulnerabilities and increases our ability to remain connected.”

“The launch of the new cable is a great example of the local and regional benefits that can be delivered through close collaboration between Commonwealth and Territory Governments, and industry partners like Vocus.”

Backed by $7.9m investment from the NT Government

Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said the DJSC provided the foundation for Darwin to establish itself as a new data centre hub for the Asia Pacific region:

“All digital highways lead into or through Darwin and that will equal jobs of the future, while growing our digital industry,” she said. The Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore cable is a massive sign of confidence in the Top End. The exciting part of this is that it will diversify our economy and create long term skilled jobs. The Northern Territory has also invested $7.9m as part of its ‘Terabit Territory’ strategy to become a major data centre hub.”

Minister for Corporate and Digital Development Ngaree Ah Kit said the DJSC paves the way for new data centres in Darwin to put us on the map as a key digital hub and create future jobs.

“Launching the Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore Cable is very exciting – it will deliver 40 terabits per second of internet capacity between Australia and Asia,” she said. “This cable provides a 1,000km link between the existing Darwin – Port Headland cable and the Australia Singapore Cable, directly linking Darwin into one of the most reliable, fastest connections into Asia.”

Data centre investments already underway

Major data centre operator NEXTDC has announced plans to construct a flagship hyper-scale data centre in Darwin connected by the cable. This will offer an alternative to offshore data centres for companies seeking a location close to Asia within a geopolitically stable region.

Vocus next dc data centre

“We are now progressing the development of NEXTDC’s first facility in Darwin to set the benchmark for data centres in the region, providing 100% uptime in addition to fast, secure, and flexible access to Australia’s most cloud connected ecosystem. In partnership with Vocus and the Northern Territory Government, NEXTDC is committed to driving the economic development of key government and industry sectors in the region,” said NEXTDC CEO and Managing Director Craig Scroggie.

Key facts

  • The Darwin-Jakarta-Singapore cable lands on Mindil Beach and is already in place as part of the existing North-West Cable System from Darwin to Port Hedland.
  • It has now been linked with the existing Australia Singapore Cable system, giving Darwin its first direct international connectivity and providing an alternative international entry point to the east and west coasts.
  • This new cable establishes Darwin and Port Hedland as Australia’s fourth and fifth major global connection points (other existing international links are via Perth, Maroochydore, and Sydney).
  • Submarine cables are the global superhighways of the internet – 97% of the world’s internet traffic is carried by submarine cables. So, while we mainly connect devices through Wi-Fi or mobile networks, those wireless services are connected to the internet via fibre optic cables.

Source: https://www.vocus.com.au/
Image source: Courtesy of Vocus

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