Vocus builds fibre network between Darwin and Tiwi Islands

Vocus builds fibre network between Darwin and Tiwi Islands

With $8.5 million grant arrangement with the Northern Territory Government

Credit: Dreamstime

Vocus has been selected to build a sub-sea system that will provide a fibre optic link between Darwin and the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory.

The deployment will be possible through an $8.5 million capital grant arrangement with the Northern Territory Government, which will see Vocus build, own and operate the sub-sea system scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.

Vocus will build a new 60km sub-sea spur cable between the North West Cable System (NWCS) branching unit and the Tiwi Islands.

According to Vocus, this is the "first time" that communities on Melville and Bathurst Islands will have access to a "reliable, high capacity and trusted fibre optic link to the mainland".

Currently, NBN Co's satellite Sky Muster is one of the services provider in the area. Mobile and land line phones are currently connected via a high speed digital radio link to Darwin.

In February, the ABC reported that residents in the Tiwi Islands had limited access to fuel, internet, and phones for three days after a Telstra tower was damaged.

The NWCS was transferred to Vocus through the acquisition of Nextgen Networks in 2016.

"Construction of the Tiwi Islands cable builds on our substantial network infrastructure investment activities in the Northern Territory,” Vocus group CEO Kevin Russell said.

Credit: Vocus

“The new fibre optic link provides an historic opportunity to replace the existing sub-optimal microwave link to the mainland, removing capacity constraints and improving telecommunication services to the Tiwi Islands.

"Poor weather causes significant interruptions to microwave telecommunication links and the tropical conditions in the Tiwi Islands frequently mean that essential services that rely on connectivity cannot be delivered.

"Affordable and reliable fibre optic connectivity is a fundamental pre-requisite for the participation in the global digital economy. Vocus is pleased to play its role in delivering this capability to the communities of the Tiwi Islands."

Dutch surveying company Fugro has been selected to run a survey program while Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) will work on the manufacturing and deployment activities - these are expected to take nine months to complete after the finalisation of technical specifications.

In July, Vocus announced it had signed a contract with ASN to to deploy the Coral Sea Cable System, a sub-marine cable providing high speed telecommunications capacity to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Vocus suffered a 15 per cent decline in revenue to $203.9 million for the 2018 financial year. Overall Vocus saw a two per cent increase in revenue to $1.89 billion, while net profit after tax was back in black at $61 million, after suffering a $1.46 billion loss in FY17.

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Tags fibre opticVocussub-sea cableASN


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