A major submarine cable promising to hugely boost New Zealand’s overall broadband connectivity has successfully landed at Takapuna Beach in Auckland.

Southern Cross Cables, which is part-owned by Spark, was due to officially hook the cable up to mainland NZ on Tuesday but the landing was delayed until today due to bad weather.

Dubbed the Southern Cross Next cable, the underwater link physically connects NZ to Australia, Fiji, and the United States mainland via Hawaii, and is the third route in the Southern Cross’ cable network. 

Submarine cables are laid underwater to internationally link land-based cable stations. Cables carry the data that modern telephone and broadband internet systems rely on.

NZ is dependent on such infrastructure to connect it digitally to the rest of the world. 

Southern Cross said the fibre optic cable can carry an additional 72 terabits of data per second in and out of the country, representing a 100% increase in NZ’s international connectivity levels.

This is the equivalent of streaming more than 4.5 million high definition 4K videos at once. 

The cable will also lower network latency speeding up how quickly data is passed through the network. It will improve sport streams to be closer to real-time broadcast, rather than 30 seconds or so behind the TV broadcast as is currently common. 

It can also improve online multiplayer gaming by quicker registering players’ input. 

(Image: Southern Cross)

“Being geographically isolated like we are in New Zealand means there’s never been a greater need to invest in our technology infrastructure and grow our global digital connectedness,” digital economy and communications minister David Clark said.  

Southern Cross has spent more than US$1.5 billion on the existing cable network over the last 20 years, but it plans to retire these existing systems by 2030.

The Next project, as the name hints, is part of a new generation of submarine cable for NZ’s telecommunications networks. Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson described it as a critical piece of infrastructure.

Southern Cross chief executive Laure Miller said the Next cable would be fully completed early next year, when the company’s cable network will span six countries and eight time zones via more than 45,000km of cable. 

“That’s more cable mileage than the circumference of the earth, and enough to traverse the length of New Zealand over 28 times,” he said. 

As well as Spark, Southern Cross’ shareholders include Singtel Optus, Verizon, and Telstra.