Southern Cross Cable fault alleged

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 16:12 09/11/2012

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The operators of the Southern Cross Cable are playing down an incident at its Alexandria cable landing station in New South Wales overnight that it said affected 10 per cent of the cable's "active capacity".

Services to some customers were impacted for just over an hour, but restored by 4.28am, it said in a statement.

Labour Party communications spokeswoman Clare Curran said she learnt a "catastrophic failure" occurred that demonstrated the need for extra diversity in international communication links to and from New Zealand.

The cable forms a "figure of eight" loop, connecting New Zealand and Australia to the United States west coast via Hawaii.

Curran said the failure was caused by an "unauthorised and un-notified software change" which "blew up" and was still being resolved.

Southern Cross marketing director Ross Pfeffer contested the description of the incident saying there had been no catastrophic failure.

"During a planned upgrade of Southern Cross capacity there was a glitch in some software which affected a few customers using a particular piece of equipment," he said.

Curran said New Zealand's reliance on a single international cable network was "a crisis for New Zealand".

"Without international connectivity, our financial system and a large percentage of business would be severely affected.

"The Government must address the issue of international connectivity with urgency and provide a full assessment of the risks New Zealand faces through software failures and natural events on the single cable."

The claim that the failure had been "catastrophic" originated from correspondence posted on an Australian network operators' site, seemingly by a wholesale customer of Southern Cross, which said it had been able to partially mitigate the fault by re-routing traffic via Southern Cross' New Zealand leg.

The Southern Cross Cable Network has two cables coming into separate landing stations near Auckland to provide redundancy and full capacity. One terminates at Whenuapai and the other at Takapuna.

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- The Dominion Post

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