Te Waipounamu: The New Digital Bridge Between New Zealand and Australia

Intelia New Zealand’s latest venture, the Te Waipounamu submarine cable, is not just a technological project but a vision to transform digital connectivity between New Zealand and Australia. Named after the Maori term for New Zealand’s South Island, this 3,000 km submarine cable aims to link Invercargill with Sydney and Melbourne, ushering in a new era of digital communication.

The Technology Behind Te Waipounamu

The Te Waipounamu system boasts 16 fiber pairs, divided into two segments. The first segment, comprising four fiber pairs, will connect Invercargill to Australia, providing a total capacity of 120 Tbps. The second segment, featuring 12 fiber pairs, will form a network between Sydney and Melbourne, offering a robust backhauling option with a capacity of 35 Tbps per fiber pair. This design ensures high-speed, efficient data transfer, crucial for businesses and individuals alike.

Expanding the Digital Horizon: Impact on Cities and Startups

The project is a beacon of progress, particularly for cities like Christchurch and Dunedin. Christchurch, being the second-largest city in New Zealand, and Dunedin, known for its digital advancements, will greatly benefit from the reduced latency and increased capacity. The Te Waipounamu cable promises a latency of under 25 milliseconds, making it the fastest link between New Zealand and Australia. This enhancement is not just about speed but also about the opportunities it opens for innovation and development.

Invercargill stands to gain significantly. This city, traditionally not seen as a digital hub, will now have the infrastructure to support high-speed, reliable internet. This is a game-changer for startups and tech companies considering Invercargill as a base. The enhanced connectivity will enable faster data transfer, cloud computing, and other digital services vital for tech-driven businesses. For startups, this means improved access to global markets, better collaboration opportunities, and a competitive edge in a digitally connected world.

The upcoming Te Waipounamu submarine cable will significantly impact the T4 Group’s sustainable Tier 4 data centre in Southland. This cutting-edge facility, designed to provide 100% uptime with dual power supplies, aligns perfectly with the new cable’s capabilities. The enhanced connectivity offered by Te Waipounamu will bolster the data centre’s reliability and performance, making Southland a more attractive location for tech ventures and reinforcing its position in the data technology landscape. This synergy between the cable and the data centre is poised to drive Southland’s emergence as a hub of technological advancement and sustainable data solutions.

The new cable will notably boost Dunedin’s status as a hub for game development. This city, already fostering a burgeoning gaming industry with its forward-thinking digital policies, will benefit from the enhanced high-speed connectivity. This improvement is essential for game development, which relies heavily on fast and reliable internet for everything from cloud-based development tools to online collaboration and large data transfers. The cable will enable Dunedin to attract more talent and investment in the gaming sector, further solidifying its position as a key player in the global game development community. In Christchurch, already known for their digital advancements, the Te Waipounamu cable will further catalyze growth. For Christchurch, it means strengthening its position as a digital leader, attracting more tech companies, and fostering innovation.

Strategic Importance and Redundancy

Te Waipounamu is more than a cable; it’s a strategic asset offering redundancy to New Zealand’s existing North Island submarine cables. This additional infrastructure provides a fail-safe, ensuring uninterrupted digital services, which is vital for both personal and professional communications.

Investment and Development

With an investment of NZD 160 million, funded through a mix of equity, debt, and capacity contract commitments, the Te Waipounamu project is a significant financial undertaking. Intelia NZ’s leadership, including Rémi Galasso and Perrine Dhalluin, have emphasized the cable’s role in unlocking the potential of Southland in sustainable data storage and contributing to New Zealand’s digital development.

The Road Ahead

The project timeline aims for a system commissioning by 2026, with plans to finalize supplier contracts and start permitting processes by April 2024. As highlighted by Georges Krebs, Intelia NZ’s Chief Technical Officer, the journey towards achieving this milestone is as exciting as the project itself.

A Step Towards a Digital Future

The Te Waipounamu submarine cable project stands as a symbol of progress and a step towards a more connected, digitally advanced future for New Zealand and Australia. This venture not only enhances connectivity but also solidifies New Zealand’s position as a key player in the global digital landscape.