A global network: The undersea cables linking Australia with the world

By Patrick Gallagher

Australia is becoming more connected. We send and receive extraordinary quantities of data, undertake transactions, trade and communicate digitally with the rest of the world.

But what many people don’t realise is this connectivity only relies fractionally on wireless connections and satellite. 95% of all international data is transferred via high-speed undersea cables. But how do these come to be, and what is their impact on network connectivity here in Australia?

Before we answer this, let’s look at the growth of undersea cables.

Growth of undersea cables

Undersea cabling is not a recent concept. Humans have been running these feats of engineering since as early as the 1800s where telegraph cables were transmitting words across the Atlantic.

In 1988, the first undersea fibre-optic cable (TAT-8) was transmitting 280 megabytes per second. This is about 15 times the speed of an average US household internet connection.

Nowadays, undersea fibre cables reach incredible speeds. It is reported that Microsoft and Facebook’s Marea transatlantic undersea cable can theoretically transfer a total capacity of 160 terabits per second (Tbps). For perspective, that is 160,000,000 Mbps; quite the increase from the 1988 TAT-8 fibre cable.

These incredible cable connections act as the arteries to global internet connectivity. Today, there are close to 400 submarine cables that work to build the internet network we have today, and often, your everyday person might not know that they even exist.

(Undersea Transit Connecting Australia;

Undersea cables are laid by specialist companies which deploy, operate, maintain and manufacture undersea networks. Companies, such as Alcatel and TE Subcom are two such examples.

During a deployment, the heavily protected fibre cables are laid from a ship which is able to carry the coiled fibre over hundreds of kilometres at a time. The operation involves the use of an undersea plough which embeds the cable into a trench along the seafloor.

New undersea cables connecting Australia

Australia’s undersea transit is not slowing down. Australia will receive four new undersea connections in the coming years, connecting us with the global community.

An example of this transit is new Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA-S), built by the RTI Consortium. This cable lands in two cities in Australia, both Sydney and Maroochydore (QLD).

(Example of undersea fibre cable along seafloor; tmrresearchblog)

The JGA-S cable is a great example of how these multi-million investments can positively affect the Australian economy. In this case, it is growing the rural economy of Maroochydore. The connection symbolises a new era for the city, as the cable will connect to the new $1.5 Billion city centre development hub at Sun Central.

JGA-S will provide significant advantages with future-proof bandwidth, offering milli-seconds of advantages for banking and finance operators, digital solutions developers, and businesses who rely on online transactions.

These undersea cables have the ability to grow local Australian economies by bringing fibre networks up-to-date with bandwidth capacity, suitable for the modern fibre-optic era. Good timing as only this year the Ookla Speedtest Global Index found that Australia has an average download speed of 35.11 Mbps, well below the global average of 57.91 Mbps.


VostroNet is a fixed broadband network wholesaler in Australia and New Zealand with fibre assets throughout. We are working closely with undersea capacity providers to enhance and enrich our network offering to customers.

Find out more about VostroNet’s Network and global reach.

Header Image Credit: Techqoon