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Local latency looms after SMW3 subsea cable link goes down again

Local latency looms after SMW3 subsea cable link goes down again

The SEA-ME-WE3 Cable between Perth and Singapore damaged again

Australian internet users may be hit by some additional latency after part of the 39,000-kilometre SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) subsea telecommunications cable linking Perth and Singapore was severed for the second time in three months.

“SEA-ME-WE3 Cable between Perth and Singapore is currently down,” Vocus Communications told customers in a status update early on 3 December. “Customers can expect to see increased latency to Asian destinations until this link is restored.

“Our provider has advised that the location of the fault is approximately 1126km from the cable landing station in Singapore,” it said, adding that there is currently no estimate as to when the cable break might be fixed.

It was in late August that wild weather in parts of South East Asia, including Typhoon Hato and Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar, last knocked out the part of the undersea cable lying between Perth and Singapore. It wasn’t until October that services were back up.

While Vocus has warned its customers to expect some latency to Asian destinations, it is also using the latest cable break to talk up the construction of its Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) part of which will be laid in a shallow trench and buried specifically to avoid the type of breaks that have hit the existing SEA-ME-WE3 cable.

Specifically, the new cable will be buried up to four metres below the seabed between Singapore and Christmas Island using a 40-tonne plough. This is largely because the ASC travels through the Java Sea, which is shallow and highly trafficked.

“The SMW3 system is nearing end-of-life”, head of Vocus International, Luke Mackinnon, said. “It is a fragile system and as outages like this -- the third this year -- show, Australia requires more robust alternatives and more capacity to South-East Asia.”

In late November, it was revealed that Metronode’s Shenton Park data centre facility in Perth would be the landing station for Vocus Communications’ US$170 million ASC cable.

Vocus said on 28 November that building work on the new cable, which is being built in partnership with Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), had passed its halfway point as the manufacturing work nears completion.


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Tags telecommunications servicesVocusSMW3

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