FEPL unveils plans for subsea fibre-optic cable from NT to WA

Tuesday, 16 March, 2021

FEPL unveils plans for subsea fibre-optic cable from NT to WA

Fibre Expressway (FEPL) has revealed the details of Project Koete, a US$1.5 billion technology ecosystem in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Project Koete will provide vital data and internet connectivity domestically between Perth and Darwin, while connecting the cities and territories to international business hubs in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and beyond in the Asia Pacific, and the world.

Project Koete is forecast to boost digital investment, particularly from the natural resources, finance and cloud computing industries. The project includes a 10,000-kilometre, carrier-neutral, high-speed, low-latency subsea cable connecting with three data centre hubs in Perth, Darwin and Dampier, and seven cable landing stations (CLS) between Perth and Darwin. The cable will be 5G enabled with the inclusion of 16 fibre pairs.

This ecosystem will facilitate onshore connectivity for remote Indigenous communities and mining industries, and provide a solution for mobile operators to challenge the monopolistic services that exist north of Perth. Koete will bring jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars to the region, while offering connectivity to the oil and gas fields off north-western Australia.

Gary Kennedy, FEPL’s onboarding CEO, said Koete will be a significant technological investment for Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

“As the economy increasingly digitises, this investment signals to Australia, Asia Pacific and the rest of the world that this region is ready to become a digital hub. The ecosystem will support the region’s most significant developments, including the enhanced digitisation of oil fields supporting next-generation digital infrastructure including IoT, artificial intelligence and even support the monitoring of underwater seismic activity to help predict tsunamis, maritime activity and its impact on global warming, and water temperature and level,” Kennedy said.

Project Koete will offer less than half of the latency in connection to Asia, compared with a Sydney-to-Singapore connection, according to FEPL Group Managing Director Peter Bannister. Bannister added that the environmental benefits from the projects will also be considerable, as the rollout links to a number of renewable energy projects across the region.

“We’re partnering with wind, solar and, in the longer term, ocean and clean hydrogen providers to satisfy the need for 100% renewable energy access over time. We’re targeting 30 plus years’ scalability assuredness, enabling customers to plan for decades, not just years. By working with our global partner network, we’re confident Project Koete will be delivered under world-leading governance and rule-of-law standards,” Bannister said.

The data centres will help facilitate connectivity in Project Koete, and will be built to the Tier IV Uptime Institute standard. The initial capacity for each will be 20 MW — the equivalent of power for 13,000 homes — with ample pre-built capacity and room to grow. The cable landing station (CLS) will be the primary connection point from Perth and Darwin to the subsea cable.

Project Koete will be funded by approximately US$650 million in senior debt and US$850 million in equity, both of which are in progress and open for new investors. Kennedy said the facility will combine the benefits of greater interconnectivity between north and western Australia and the world, encouraging greater investment in the region, and improving data security and sovereignty.

“As well as being a key driver for construction, engineering and other jobs as well as huge investment in the region, Project Koete will provide benefits to Indigenous communities by way of jobs and e-health and e-learning. It will provide capacity for multinational cloud giants and global financial services companies to diversify beyond traditional data centre hubs such as Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore. It will also provide valuable infrastructure on which telcos can build new services,” Kennedy said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Péter Mács

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