Telstra has won a $8.2 million contract with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for the landing of the Coral Sea Cable System.
In June, the Australian Government awarded $136.6 million contract to Vocus to build the international sub-marine cable between Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Australia.
Now, the two-year landing party agreement signed with Telstra will utilise the telco's space, facilities and services for the landing of the Coral Sea Cable System at Telstra’s existing cable landing site in Sydney.
The decision for the existing landing facilities was to avoid risks to the overall project schedule associated with constructing a greenfields site, ARN understands.
Telstra was the only telecommunications network considered due to being the only one that could provide space within existing cable landing station infrastructure.
As previously reported, Vocus will build and manage the cable, which will run from Sydney to the capital of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, and then to the Solomon Islands’ capital, Honiara.
The completion of the cable build is scheduled for late 2019 and is designed to give fast and reliable internet to the small Pacific island nation, which currently uses satellite networks.
Vocus has also been assigned the construction of a domestic sub-marine network within Solomon Islands, to extend the benefits of the cable beyond Honiara to the outer provinces across the six islands where the majority of the population lives.
The cable has become the centre of a political sore point between China and Australia over recent months. Chinese technology giant Huawei was originally set to build the 2.5TB-cable linking Australia to the Pacific island nation back in July 2017.
However, following concerns that Huawei’s involvement posed a security risk, the Australian government stepped in to fund the multi-million-dollar project from its foreign aid budget.
On 13 June, the Australian Government in a joint announcement with the Solomon Islands Government revealed that Australia had agreed to fund underwater internet cables and a cyber security centre for the Solomon Islands.
China and Australia currently remain embroiled in another diplomatic disagreement over attempts to block Huawei from building a domestic cable within Papua New Guinea.
Huawei has also been banned from participating in the roll-out of Australia’s 5G mobile network due to rules precluding the involvement of any company that could be subject to “extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law”.