Telstra’s Asian affair

Published on the 22/01/2019 | Written by Heather Wright


Telstra Network in Asia

Telco now carries around 40 percent of all Asia traffic…

Telstra is continuing to ramp up its Asia Pacific push, adding new capacity to its subsea cable infrastructure, including buying capacity on the new-generation New Cross Pacific Cable, strengthening its Japan to US route, and a major upgrade to its subsea infrastructure using technology from Infinera.

The company has the largest submarine cable network across Asia Pacific – at more than 400,000km it’s enough to circle the world almost 10 times and carries around 40 percent of all of Asia’s traffic on its networks and cables.

Telstra Enterprise Group executive Michael Ebeid has made no secret of his Asia expansion plans.

“As the Asia Pacific’s economy grows, so do we. We have increased our capacity to meet the growing data requirements of our customers now and into the future with our investments in capacity and path diversity throughout Asia Pacific,” Ebeid says.

“As the Asia Pacific economy grows, so do we.”

“Increased connectivity is also about helping Telstra’s domestic, international business, international carrier and Government customers expand globally, particularly throughout Asia Pacific.”

The company also carries traffic from Australia to Asia and America for companies including Facebook and Google and is the only foreign carrier with a license to operate in and out of China – a key area of growth for the company, which saw a 25 percent increase in traffic across its IP network on Singles Day last November.

“Capacity demand on our international network has almost doubled over the past two years to over 200Tb, driven by the explosion of cloud computing, video streaming and e-commerce,” Ebeid says.

The Infinera upgrade, which sees the US vendor’s fourth-generation ICE4 optical engine rolled out across Telstra’s Asia Pacific infrastructure, will increase Telstra’s fibre capacity by 160 percent – not through laying additional cable but through more effectively using existing cable.

Andy Lumsden, Telstra network planning principal, reiterated Telstra’s commitment to developing its Asia Pacific network, saying the telco is ‘always adapting and creating capacity where it is needed’.

The Infinera agreement follows last week’s announcements of Telstra’s first large capacity purchase on the new-generation NCP cable and further investment in the Faster cable, which Ebeid says are part of the long term strategy to capture data demand across Asia and the Pacific.

“Building on the capacity, resiliency and the footprint of our already vast subsea network is a key part of our international growth strategy,” Ebeid says.

“Following Telstra’s purchase of [cable operator and telco] Pacnet in 2015, we have strategically invested in additional capacity and infrastructure to meet the increasing demand for data right across the Asia Pacific region, carefully mapping our international paths and investments.”

The company has long eyed international markets for its expansion. Back in 2014, then CEO David Thodey said he wanted to see a third of the telco’s revenue coming from outside Australia by 2020, with the company earmarking some AU$5 billion for its Asian expansion. The road hasn’t been smooth however, with several failed projects, including its costly 11-year Reach undersea cable joint venture with Hong Kong’s PCCW.

Telstra is also a major player in the Indigo cable system that will connect Singapore, Indonesia and Australia. Just before Christmas that project reached a milestone with the completion of the 4,600km Indigo West cable lay from Singapore to Perth.

The company has also boosted its Asia to US operations in recent months, with investment in the Hong Kong Americas cable and a 6Tb capacity purchase in the Pacific Light Cable Networks cable, both due for completion in 2020.

In December it also agreed to purchase 25 percent stake in the Southern Cross Cable Network in a deal which includes capacity on both the existing trans-Pacific Southern Cross network and the new Southern Cross Next subsea cable, scheduled for completion by end-2020 and providing a high capacity express route with data centre connectivity between Sydney, Auckland and Los Angles.

Once completed, the investments in the Indigo, Southern Cross, Hong Kong Americas and Pacific Light cables will bolster Telstra’s subsea cable network by more than 25Tb.

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