Hiccup hits trans-Tasman cable venture

Last updated 16:01 05/08/2014

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Telecom may have suffered a setback in its plan to lay a trans-Tasman communications link in conjunction with Telstra and Vodafone.

An industry source said Telstra had decided not to participate in the proposed joint venture.

Telecom spokesman Andrew Pirie said talks were continuing with Telstra, and Telecom was confident the Australian firm would be involved in the venture "in some way".

Pirie would not comment on whether that might still be as an equity partner.

Telstra spokeswoman Catherine Harris said "at this point in time Telstra is in discussions with Telecom and Vodafone regarding the TGA project and we will not comment further while these are ongoing".

Telecom unveiled the proposal to lay the Tasman Global Access cable in February last year, estimating it would cost US$60 million.

It invited "several international companies" in June last year to bid to lay the cable, but there has been little outward sign of progress since.

It is understood Telecom had been waiting for head office approval for the investment from Telstra in Australia and Vodafone in Britain.

The TGA cable would provide a low-latency backup to the trans-Tasman leg of the Southern Cross cable. The only alternative high-speed route for trans-Tasman communications runs via Hawaii.

In conjunction with cables running out of Australia, it would also provide an alternative route for internet traffic between New Zealand and the rest of the world.

Auckland-based Hawaiki Cable is continuing its effort to secure support for a new US$300m cable running between Sydney, Whangarei and Oregon, though getting that plan across the line has taken longer than the "few weeks" it forecast in May.

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- The Dominion Post

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