SPIN focus shifts to Auckland link in Pacific cableMarch 12 - 8am
[Updated - Kordia and NZICT doubt SPIN intentions] Founders of the Pacific Fibre project may find the Southern Cross isn’t the only international cable to compete with – another cable operator plans to land its cable in Auckland next year.
Yesterday Rod Drury – one of three Kiwi entrepreneurs backing a $900 million undersea cable connecting NZ, Australia and the US – dismissed a proposal by the South Pacific Island Network (SPIN) to link to Auckland.
But SPIN CEO Remi Galasso confirmed to Telecommunications Review last night that it is moving ahead with the final stage of its cable. “After Noumea – Sydney cable completion in 2008 (Step 1), Tahiti – Hawaii cable is now completed since last week (Step 2). We are now fully focusing on Step 3, that will complete our new trans-Pacific route.”
Galasso welcomes the advent of Pacific Fibre and says it proves that the New Zealand broadband market needs an alternative international cable. “It is good to see that things are moving in New Zealand and that influential Kiwi entrepreneurs are shaking the Southern Cross monopoly. It’s a terrific and exciting project!”
“We also understand that Pacific Fibre plans to implement an Auckland – Sydney link, which clearly makes sense from a market point of view. It is really good news for us, as Pacific Fibre will bring more diversity in Auckland and consequently more competitive interconnection fees.”
Earlier this year Galasso had been keen to speak with Kordia about its plans to build a trans-Tasman cable.
Galasso says it appears that Pacific Fibre is focussed on the New Zealand market, whereas SPIN sees the Pacific Islands as a priority. Although Rod Drury told TR yesterday that Pacific Fibre saw the opportunity for a “leadership role in the South Pacific.”
In January this year Galasso told TR that planning for the $US 200 million project is well underway, with a supplier contract signed with Alcatel Lucent Submarine Networks and system commission expected by 2011 – two years ahead of Pacific Fibre. The SPIN cable is expected to land in at Takapuna beach, the same landing place as the Southern Cross Cable. Galasso has been tightlipped about possible partners in New Zealand, but Vector CEO Simon Mackenzie confirmed they had been in discussions.
Drury told TR yesterday that while Pacific Fibre had shared its plans with Kordia, they had not spoken to Telecom (which owns 50% of the Southern Cross Cable) or SPIN.
UPDATED: At the Telecommunications Industry Group conference today, TR caught up with Kordia and NZICT.
Kordia Corporate Affairs GM Susie Stone says she has had no contact from SPIN about a possible partnership. “We just don’t see them anywhere in the market place. They weren’t at PTC (Pacific Telecommunications Council conference in Hawaii in January this year). My litmus test for that was who was at PTC – we were up selling Optikor (name for Kordia’s cable) and we had a good trip but those guys were nowhere to be seen.”
NZICT CEO Brett Riley, who sits on the PTC advisory group, says it’s his information that SPIN is unlikely to proceed.
Meanwhile Kordia CEO Geoff Hunt says they’re excited about Pacific Fibre and are working towards the possibility of Optikor being the trans-Tasman link for both Pacific Fibre, and Kordia’s Australian partners PIPE Networks.