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Google to build Singapore-Australia undersea cable

A consortium comprising Google, Singtel and Telstra commits to building a second undersea cable connecting Singapore to Perth.

Google said it will invest in a new subsea cable connecting Singapore to Perth and Sydney, in Australia, together with Australia’s AARNet, Telstra and SubPartners, Indonesia’s Indosat Ooredoo and Singapore’s Singtel.

Once it is operational in mid-2019, the so-called INDIGO cable will join another cable currently being developed by Australian telecoms company Vocus Group, in a bid to tap the surging demand for data in Southeast Asia and Australia. 

The latter project, dubbed the Australian Singapore Cable, finalised contracts and technical specifications last week. It will begin construction by end of this year and should be operational in 2018.   

Both Singapore-Australia cables will be built by Alcatel Submarine Networks, connecting Singapore to Perth, with a branch to Jakarta. However, the INDIGO cable will extend to Sydney and span approximately 9,000km, while Vocus’ ASC will stop at the shore end of Perth, with a length of 4,600km. 

INDIGO’s two fibre optic pairs have a design capacity of around 18Tbps, which will be able to allow 8 million “simultaneous high-definition Google Hangout video conference calls”, according to Google. ASC, on the other hand, has a four-fibre pair system, delivering a minimum of 40Tbps of capacity. 

INDIGO is the seventh submarine cable investment for Google and the fifth in the region. 

The Google-backed project, formerly known as APX-West system, was proposed by Singtel, SubPartners and Tesltra in March 2016. The partners said at that time that the project was “a consortium cable with all the major players having access to ownership economics at a fraction of the cost of private cable ownership. This was a unique commercial model for the Perth-Singapore route that will satisfy the ongoing bandwidth requirements of both network operators and internet content hosts”.