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Southern Cross Next cableSouthern Cross says its recent seabed survey found a faster route for the Southern Cross Next cable project connecting Auckland and Sydney to Los Angeles.

The route means laying cable in waters off the Wallis and Fortuna Islands. This should pay off by cutting latency; that’s the time taken for data to travel across the Pacific. Southern Cross Cable Network CEO Anthony Briscoe says it will be the fastest connection between New Zealand, Australia and the US.

How does that claim stack up?

Light travels at around 300,000 kilometres per second in a vacuum. It slows to around 200,000 kmps in a fibre cable. That’s roughly 5 milliseconds to travel 1000km. The existing Southern Cross cable is 8000km from Auckland to Hawaii and another 4135 km from Hawaii to California. That’s about a 60ms one-way journey.

The abandoned Pacific-Fibre cable was to take a more direct route, around 10,500km from Auckland to the US. If we assume Southern Cross is planning a similar distance, then it would be around 1500km shorter or roughly 7ms closer.

Hawaiki Cable will run around 14,000km of fibre from Australia to the USA. The route between Australia and New Zealand is a fraction longer than Southern Cross’s trans-Tasman route. The line from Northland connects to the Australia-US cable near Norfolk Island, which, according to Google is almost 12,000km from the USA.

Southern Cross Next cable shaves milliseconds off trip

So it looks as if Brisco’s claim is right, the Southern Cross Next cable will be the fastest data route from New Zealand to the US.

Does this matter? It won’t affect most people, but it will be enough to make a difference for some specialist users and applications that deal in vast amounts of data.

Southern Cross says the Next cable will cost around US$350 million to build. It should be open for business by the end of 2019. The plan is for a 60Tbps link, which is three times the 20Tbps on the existing Southern Cross cable.

Like its rival, Hawaiki, the Southern Cross Next cable will drop off at several Pacific island nations. Fiji, Samoa, Tokelau and Kiribati are the most likely candidates. Southern Cross says it potentially has eight customers.

Spark owns 50 percent of Southern Cross, Singtel owns 40 percent and the remaining 10 percent belongs to Verizon.

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