Ten questions answered about the Coral Sea Cable System


The Coral Sea Cable System—the undersea fibreoptic cable to be laid between Sydney and Port Moresby, and then to the Solomon Islands—will transform telecommunications in the two Pacific countries. Here we answer 10 key questions about this keenly anticipated project.

Map of the proposed undersea telecommunications cable. Source: Vocus

  1. What is the state of the current cable between PNG and Australia? Cables generally have a life span of 25 years. The current connection is coming to the end of its useful life and has very limited capacity. It would not be able to meet the demand predicted for the next 25 years.
  2. When will the new cable be up and running? The 40 Tbps (terabits per second) cable system (nickname: CS²) is expected to be finished and operational by December 2019. The cable will have four fibre pairs, about the width of a human hair each. 20 Tbps capacity will go to PNG, and 20 Tbps will go to Solomon Islands.
  3. What is the cost? It has been valued at A$136 million (K324 million).
  4. How will it change capacity? The cable has a technical maximum capacity of 10 terabytes per second, which is about 1000 times current capacity.
  5. What are the stages of construction? A marine survey will define the precise route that the cable will traverse. Terrestrial construction activities will take place, including building the cable landing stations in order to connect it to domestic infrastructure in PNG and the Solomons. The cable itself will be manufactured in Calais, France, then shipped and installed towards the end of 2019. The installation in PNG will only occur in the last three months of the project.
  6. Where will it be connected to Papua New Guinea? The landing site will be Kila Kila in Port Moresby. The undersea cable will be dragged up to the shore and then connected to a cable station that will be built on top of the cliff. The land is currently owned by the Royal PNG Constabulary.
  7. Which organisations will be involved? State-owned PNG DataCo and its parent, Kumul Telikom, will be involved on the PNG side. Vocus Group has been selected to manage the delivery. The work to build and lay the cable has been subcontracted to Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, while Telstra will provide the facility on the Australian mainland. Vocus has form: it built a 2100 km cable to connect Darwin to Port Hedland, and is working on a 4600 km cable to connect Perth with Jakarta and Singapore.
  8. What are the funding arrangements? It is majority-funded by the Australian Government: on a two-thirds, one-third basis. The funding only applies from the Sydney hub to Port Moresby and the connection to the Solomon Islands. It does not include the cost of the on-shore network in PNG.
  9. Who will own it? The revenue that is generated through the cable system will be 100 per cent owned by PNG and the Solomon Islands. They will own, independently and separately, the right to the data that is generated through the cable.
  10. What organisation will manage it? A Special Purpose Vehicle will be created to manage and maintain the cable. It will be an Australian-registered company, with a board of directors, and will have a telecommunications licence to operate in Australia. There will be three shareholders, one from each country.

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  1. Do you know how much faster the new internet speeds will be in Port Moresby from what they are currently? Even a ball park estimate?

  2. Iain Stevenson says

    How will this help New Guinea Islands?

  3. Andrew Grey says

    I imagine APNG2 is well and truly congested, and we are fortunate it is still operating. As long as PNG DataCo are not stingy in opening up bandwidth to promote usage and connectivity to the mooted inter provincial fibre network is done efficiently , this should be a game changer, faster speeds, greater bandwidth and reduced costs due ot economies of scale.

  4. Of all the questions you asked, you should ask by how much the internet cost will be reduced comparing to the current internet rates. Speed or capacity is one thing but the greatest concern to PNG businesses is the cost of the Internet.

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