Work has commenced to lay a second submarine fibre optic cable to Waiheke Island, Chorus has announced.
Once complete the new cable will cross from Maraetai Beach to Woodside Bay on the island.
With 144 individual fibre strands, Chorus says the new cable significantly increases the internet and data capacity to the island, while providing a diverse route and improved resilience for the island's residents.
Today submarine cables, not satellites, transit 99% of the worlds internet, voice and data traffic, including the backhaul of mobile network traffic. Chorus $3.4m investment in the subsea Maraetai-Woodside Bay cable will protect the island's increasingly important broadband connectivity.
Work to lay the cable and bury it in on the ocean floor will take approximately ten days. To carry out the work Chorus has partnered with Visionstream and Wellington-based specialist marine vessel operator, Seaworks.
The subsea fibre deployed measures more than 6km in length and weighs over 13,500kg. Every precaution has been taken to prolong the life of the cable and to support the ability to recover it for repair if necessary. The cable is expected to serve the island's broadband needs for at least the next 30 years.
Currently Chorus leases capacity on a single cable to the island. When the new cable is operational all traffic to and from the island will migrate across. However, the leased capacity will remain and offer diversity in the event of a fault on the new cable.
Chorus CEO, JB Rousselot, says he is "delighted that Waiheke Island residents now not only have access to fibre in their homes but they can also take comfort in knowing they are no longer reliant on a single fibre, which, if damaged, would cut off the Internet on the island.
"The COVID-19 pandemic underlined the importance to us all of the need for reliable, consistent high-speed internet connectivity," he says.
"The new subsea, fibre-optic cable connecting Waiheke Island to the world means that the 56% who have already taken advantage of fibre to their homes and businesses can be assured that Chorus fibre infrastructure can support exponential growth in usage," says Rousselot.
"We are now more than ready to welcome the remaining 44% to join their neighbours in having access to the best broadband in the world and truly delighted to see this critical infrastructure, which has been on the cards for some years, come to fruition," he says.
Visionstream general manager for New Zealand, Jim Tocher, says he is happy to be partnering with Chorus on this project.
"We know how important a reliable internet connection is and we are proud to have played a role in bringing this infrastructure to the community of Waiheke Island," he says.
"The design and delivery of the undersea cable between Auckland and Waiheke Island was an interesting challenge for us. We needed a solution that could safely deliver a high-quality internet connection to the island, and also one that could reduce the risk of future damage or connection issues inherent with offshore links.
"After assessing several options, Chorus and Visionstream landed on a sustainable solution that will provide a level of security of service to Waiheke residents and visitors for many years to come," Tocher says.
Seaworks CEO, Tim Brown, says Seaworks was pleased to be asked to join the team to deliver this new critical infrastructure.
"Undersea cables are easy to forget since they are well out of sight and mind, but they are a critical part of our nation's infrastructure.
"We have extensive experience in laying inshore and coastal cables and our specialist vessels and cable lay equipment will ensure the operational aspects of the project will be delivered as specified," he says.