Nextgen, Vocus revive Perth-Singapore cable project

Upstart buys into 50-50 J/V

ASC Cable Landings
The planned Australia-Singapore cable route

Nextgen Group's stalled plans to build a submarine cable from Perth to Singapore are moving again, with M2 takeover target Vocus signing a memorandum of understanding to take a half-share in the build.

Restarting the 100 Gbps project would give the west of the country an alternative to the ageing and trouble-prone SeaMeWe-3 cable.

The two companies went public with the non-binding agreement after it was revealed to the Australian Financial Review. In its canned release, Nextgen said construction would start on the project in 2016, with an 18-month build target.

Terminations are planned in Jakarta and Singapore, according to Nextgen CEO David Yuile.

The 4,800 km cable was first mooted in 2011, when Nextgen announced the cable would be built by Alcatel-Lucent. Originally, the subsidiary building the cable, Australia Singapore Cable Limited, had hoped it would be in service by the second quarter of 2015.

Competing proposals for the same route – by Subpartners and Trident – slowed things down, because investors want customers signed on for a build before they commit to a build.

Vocus' announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange says the project will be funded by a combination of cash, debt, and customer pre-sales.

The existing SeaMeWe-3 cable has suffered multiple breaks in recent years. Neither of its successors – the decade-plus-old SeaMeWe-4 or the under-construction SeaMeWe-5 – extend past Asia to Australia. ®

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