Tasman Global Access on trans-Pacific latency

Southern Cross Cable lands at Nedonna Beach, Oregon.

Southern Cross Cable lands at Nedonna Beach, Oregon.

As a follow-up to Questioning Rod Drury’s Pacific Fibre reboot, I had a message from Andrew Pirie who is Telecom general manager of corporate relations.

He says the Tasman Global Access team calculates the average latency for traffic from New Zealand to the USA via Australia is around 83 milliseconds compared with an average time of 61 milliseconds for traffic travelling directly across the Pacific.

He goes on to say:

Their assessment is that the difference in latency (i.e. data transmission time) is negligible and is unlikely to impact key Internet applications such as video streaming.

I’m no expert on latency – which is the delay experienced in a network – but I suspect while it won’t matter for voice or video, that extra 22 ms will matter for some cloud applications. The good news is that service providers are likely to host key cloud applications in Sydney anyway.

Pirie also reports the Tasman Global Access project is “nicely on track”. The $70 million project is a joint venture between Telecom NZ, Vodafone and Telstra to build a cable from Auckland to Sydney. The cable is due to be completed by late 2014.

Tasman Global Access is controversial in some quarters because it tightens Telecom NZ’s hold on submarine cable links to the outside world. The company is also half owner of the Southern Cross Cable network. The new trans-Tasman cable undermines the business case for a trans-Pacific cable linking Australia to the USA via New Zealand.

5 thoughts on “Tasman Global Access on trans-Pacific latency

    • That’s right. When the cable was announced the press release said Australia now accounts for 40 percent of traffic out of NZ compared with just 10 percent in 2000. I suspect that ratio is likely to increase further.

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      • And if traffic is shed from SXC, perhaps that reduced demand will result in lower prices? Or is there enough similarity in the holding of both to make that less likely…

        However, perhaps the ~40% CAGR of traffic to locations outside NZ will mean there’s enough business for everyone. But at least non-CDN and 22ms sensitive apps will find less competition on SXC

        [“Cisco’s Visual Network Index forecasts that Internet traffic in New Zealand will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 44% between 2010 and 2015.” http://nztelco.com/?p=276

        If non-local traffic remains a constant percentage within that growth, then international (Australia & US) should grow at the same rate…]

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      • Hard to say, rough guess would be that outside of the odd millisecond here or there, the economy of scale benefits of Sydney scales and plummeting trans-Tasman communications costs would mean local installations to serve 4.4M locally would not become cost effective.

        That being said, local applications that used Australian-scale backends cost-effectively via trans-Tasman fibre could still be possible. A kiwi “Instagram” (generic global application differentiated on ease-of-use) on Australian platforms serving Asia and the world…

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