With shareholder agreements and regulatory permits in place, Southern Cross says its US$300 million Next submarine cable linking New Zealand, Australia and the United States cable is about to start.

The project is expected to be complete by January 2022. The new 13,483km route will add submarine cable capacity to the Pacific Island nations Fiji, Tokelau and Kiribati. When all the branches are included the project will have 16,148km of submarine cable. Capacity will be 72Tbps.

Next is designed as an extension of the existing Southern Cross Cable system. Customers will be able to use the point-of-presence network and access infrastructure that is already in place.

Southern Cross say customers will be able to flexibly assign new and existing capacity across the three routes across the Pacific.

Alcatel Submarine Networks has been awarded the contract to build the new high capacity route, which Southern Cross says will be the lowest latency path to the US.

Southern Cross CEO Laurie Miller says: “The addition of the new Southern Cross Next route to the existing platform will provide existing and future customers with further resiliency and connectivity options between Australia, New Zealand and the United States”.

In December 2018, Telstra moved to take a 25 percent stake in the Southern Cross Cable Network, in a move that dilutes the interest of existing owners: Spark which previously owned 50 percent, Singtel and Verizon. When the transaction completes Spark’s share will be around 40 percent. The deal is now days from completing.