Southern Cross switches on third 400GbE transpacific link

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Reaching a hat-trick in providing connectivity along the world’s longest networking route, Australasian specialist international capacity provider Southern Cross Cables has announced the availability of commercial 400GbE services on its 15,840km Next cable running between Sydney, Auckland and Los Angeles.

Southern Cross Cables first announced the construction of its Next cable in July 2022, and the activation marks a world-first for the longest single-span 400GbE services achieved on a submarine cable network. The net consists of three diverse submarine cable routes and more than 20 access points, and now totals at more than 43,000km. The Southern Cross ecosystem is designed to support high-capacity and low-latency routes between Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tokelau, Kiribati, Hawaii and the US West Coast.

The cable is said to be the current world’s longest single-system datacentre to datacentre for 400GbE services, and took just over two years to complete during the pandemic. The Next system will boost the capacity of the ecosystem by about 500%, to around 100Tbps, effectively more than doubling Australia and New Zealand’s direct international connectivity capability to the US.

Southern Cross worked in collaboration with Ciena to commission and test the services error-free as part of the Next commissioning processes. The cable will also support Southern Cross’s continuing mission to enable reliable connectivity between the people and communities of the Pacific Islands to the rest of the world, and represents the first international submarine fibre connections to Tokelau and Kiribati, reinforcing Fiji’s growing role as a digital hub for the Pacific Islands.

The 400GbE service runs on Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform powered by WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optics, and is managed by the Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller. To accommodate increasing and changing network traffic demands, Southern Cross’s ecosystem also incorporates Ciena’s 5400 and 8700 platforms, providing the ability to deploy services from 100Mbs now up to 400GbE connectivity over applicable wavelengths. To put the potential performance of the network into perspective, Southern Cross said it would allow the transfer of the half-petabyte of data generated from the approximately 7,500 F1 2022 car wind-tunnel model tests in 111 seconds, or just over 300 seconds to transfer the estimated 10 billion photos on Facebook.

Commenting on the introduction of services on the network, Southern Cross CEO Laurie Miller said the move was a game changer for customers. “With the Southern Cross Next cable system, the new technology and capability has been designed to support the rising demand for bandwidth driven by cloud adoption and digitisation,” he said. “We are now thrilled to be able to offer 400GbE Layer 1 services as the first of several planned innovations taking advantage of the Southern Cross ecosystem, and the new Next cable.

“The availability of 400GbE services will allow customers hyper-scale low-latency connectivity directly between datacentres in Sydney and Los Angeles, and with a new Auckland DC PoP due for implementation in 2023. Demand for 100G+ high-capacity links has been booming in recent years, particularly for datacentre to datacentre GCN connectivity, where extremely large and resilient volumes of data are required to traverse core network infrastructure for data replication, data storage connectivity and disaster recovery: an application where the Southern Cross multi-path eco-system excels.”



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