The first part of a new link connecting New Zealand to the world has been laid at a Raglan beach.
It took 25 submarine cable experts a week to bury the three-kilometre stretch of heavily armoured Tasman Global Access (TGA) cable, which weighs about 22 tonnes.
"The team began by pulling the cable ashore from the specialised ship, the MV Tranquil Image," says Vodafone wholesale director Steve Riege.
"They then stripped a section of the steel armour back to uncover the four fibres inside, which are connected to the terminal station in Raglan and will be connected to Vodafone's AquaLink cable. This cable already lands at the edge of Ngarunui Beach and will now also be used to carry TGA traffic to two locations in Auckland -- one on the Spark network, and the other on Vodafone's."
Roughly 5000 square metres of sand and hard clay at Ngarunui beach had to be excavated to bury the cable to a depth of about three metres. An articulated protective pipe weighing more than16kg per metre was applied for extra protection. The remaining stretch of cable was buried to a depth of roughly one metre out into the ocean.
Telecommunications companies Spark, Vodafone and Telstra believe the $1 billion project will significantly improve New Zealand's international broadband connectivity.
Benefits include strengthened links into fast-growing Asian markets, improved redundancy and resiliency, and better connections with the five main international cable systems currently serving Australia.
Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN), now part of Nokia, has been contracted to lay the cable between Ngarunui Beach and Narrabeen Beach in Sydney.
"During the course of the Raglan shore-end cable lay, experts from as far away as Greece worked alongside excavators and builders from the local Raglan community," says Lindsay Cowley, Spark general manager wholesale and international. "Together they have successfully completed the first phase of this important engineering project."
It's hoped the TGA cable will be ready to start carrying data across the Tasman towards the end of this year.
The 2,300km cable is comprised of two fibre pairs, and will have a capacity of 20 terabits per second.