UPDATE 1-NZ's Telecom to build Australia-NZ cable with Telstra, Vodafone
WELLINGTON Feb 19 (Reuters) - Telecom New Zealand, Vodafone and Australia's Telstra plan to build a $60 million submarine cable linking New Zealand with Australia and strengthening its Internet connectivity with Asia, Telecom said on Tuesday.
The Tasman Global Access Cable, which will be the third between the two countries, is expected to be completed by late 2014 and will boost the data transfer capacity of the small island nation by 300 times, the companies said.
"This cable will enable New Zealand to better leverage Australia's much stronger Internet connectivity," Telstra Global Managing Director Martijn Blanken said in a statement.
The venture would be a roughly equal partnership between the three firms. The contract to build the network, which is expected to have a capacity of 30 terabits per second, would be put up for tender soon.
The cable will provide a third link to Australia after the Southern Cross cable operated by Telecom, Singtel Optus and Verizon, which connects New Zealand to the United States via Australia, and Fiji, and the older Tasman-2, which is expected to become redundant in 2017.
Telecom and Vodafone control more than half of New Zealand's broadband network after Vodafone acquired Telstra's fixed-line and internet operations in the country last year.
"Internet traffic is shifting towards Asia," Telecom CEO Simon Moutter told reporters.
The Southern Cross cable network would "easily handle the foreseeable future on the U.S. side", he said.
New Zealand's Telecommunications Users Association said the new cable could reduce the prospects for a direct, high-speed link between New Zealand and the United States, after such a project was scrapped last year due to insufficient funding.