Launceston, TAS, 10 March 2016 – Digital Tasmania today called on the state government to make a
longawaited decision on a new fibre optic cable connecting Tasmania to Sydney and Perth. The call
comes as the Basslink fibre optic cable is about to be c ut to perform repairs on the adjoining Basslink
electricity interconnector which failed on December 20th and may threaten Internet connectivity for some
consumers in Tasmania.
Digital Tasmania spokesperson Andrew Connor said “The impending cut of the Basslink fibre optic cable
on Friday morning means that all data traffic across Bass Strait will be carried over the two Telstra
cables until Basslink is reconnected”.
It may take until May for the Basslink power and fibre cables to
In that time consumers may experience slowdowns or timeouts
in peak times, especially if Telstra suffers an outage on their cables.
“The nationwide Telstra mobile outage in early February which
disconnected millions of users demonstrates that no system is
impervious to faults” said Mr Connor.
Industry sources have told Digital Tasmania that residential users could face internet slowdowns at peak
times when the Basslink cable is cut. Mr Connor said “Because there’s no confirmation that Internet
providers have been able to access enough alternate interstate capacity, users could experience
buffering on video content and even timeouts when accessing other services outside of Tasmania”.
Digital Tasmania is monitoring the performance of several ISP’s and will report on the situation.
The SubPartners company proposed a new fibre optic cable called APXCentral
running from Sydney to Perth with an optional branch to Hobart. The Tasmanian Government was approached
to fund the Hobart branch at a cost of $20 million. They engaged a consultant at a cost of $180,000 to
assess the value for money of this proposal during 2015 but still no decision has been made almost two
years after the initial approach.
This option would provide Tasmania with a 4th fibre optic cable link to the mainland and second cable
independent of Telstra. Mr Connor said, “While there is not an immediate need for the capacity provided
by another cable, it would vastly improve reliability and costs for connections to the state, as well as
connecting directly to Australia’s two Internet gateway cities, Sydney and Perth”.
Mr Connor said “It’s fortunate that the Basslink electricity interconnector failure on December 20th did
not also disrupt fibre optic services immediately because this would have led to weeks of downtime or
slowdowns for up to 50% of homes, businesses and educational institutions in Tasmania not serviced by
Telstra as other providers arranged alternate capacity”. “It serves as a wakeup
call because many providers were relying on just one affordable fibre optic connection to the mainland with little backup
capacity at the ready” he added.
“The delay in decision making on the SubPartners proposal is more evidence that the State government
is still treading water with telecommunications and that they’re unwilling to commit to infrastructure that
would see Tasmania positioned as a major knowledge hub location for Australia.” said Mr Connor.
Mr Connor continued “It is reasonable to assess any proposal presented to government, but is not a
hard decision to make between a $20 million investment to tap into a cable between Perth and Sydney
versus an estimated $50 million plus for a standalone Hobart to Sydney cable”. Connecting directly into
Sydney and Perth means that internet services would be more responsive especially from Asia and
While a possible second Basslink power interconnector would likely have a fibre optic component and
would improve Tasmania’s communications situation it would take many years to come to fruition. Mr
Connor said “The Tasmanian Government needs to get on board with the SydneyPerth
cable now because it provides a faster, easier and direct connection into those cities from Hobart”. A second
Basslink power cable, like existing fibre cables would connect the north coast of Tasmania to Victoria
and based on the experience of Basslink 1 could take 69
years before its ready for service.
Tasmania is lucky to be wella dvanced with the NBN rollout, but the NBN is only concerned with the “last
mile” connection. i.e from homes and businesses to the NBN points of interconnect in Launceston and
Hobart. Mr Connor said “It’s from Launceston and Hobart that Internet providers need to connect to the
mainland and the world and this is where they need a cheaper and more reliable service that a 4th cable
The commissioning of the Basslink fibre optic cable in 2009 opened up the telecommunications market
in Tasmania to wholesale competition for the first time which saw internet and mobile services flourish
and contributed to the NBN starting its national rollout in Tasmania.
Fibre optic cables to Tasmania:
Telstra 1 – 1995 Boat Harbour–Sandy Point
Telstra 2 – 2003 Stanley–Inverloch
Basslink – 2009 George Town–Loy Yang
About Digital Tasmania
Digital Tasmania is a consumer action group, created in 2008 to give a voice to the views and needs of
Tasmanian consumers in the digital age. It’s first mission was to raise awareness of the Basslink fibre
cable which lay unused for several years before being commercialised in 2009. Since then the group
has consistently represented the community at Senate hearings, in the media and supported the
construction of a worldleading FibreToThePremises NBN rollout.
PO Box 15, PROSPECT TAS 7250 | Ph 0432 870 881