Underwater internet cable linking US to New Zealand set to come ashore in Northland

A new digital era is coming ashore in Northland.

A proposed underwater cable linking New Zealand to the United States will open up Northland to huge business and research opportunities.

Northland Inc signed a memorandum of understanding with Hawaiki Cable in July to land the US$350 million ($433.4 million) under-water cable in Bream Bay.

This week Australian telecommunications company TPG Telecom signed a letter of intent to acquire capacity for its users, which brings the project a step closer.

Advertisement

Chairman of Northland Inc Colin Mitten said the cable holds two pairs of fibre-optic cables. One pair is for domestic purposes internet, the type that is used by most internet users. The other pair is for "dark fibre", internet connection that can hold an enormous amount of data, mainly used by scientists, software developers and businesses that need to transfer high volume of data at one time.

"If you are a software developer, a graphic artist, or a scientist you could work in Sydney or Tokyo or you could choose to work in Whangarei," he said.

"You'd have better connectivity than anywhere else in the country."

Bream Bay was chosen for the landing zone because of its close proximity to State Highway One, where the ultra-fast broadband lines run North and South, and infrastructure to transport plenty of power to the cable, as it was once tipped for a potential power plant site.

Northland's abundance of "green power" such as the Ngawha geothermal power station was an added drawcard for big digital companies, Mr Mitten said.

"Companies like Google and Amazon are interested in working in places with 'green power'," he said.

While the huge capabilities of data coming ashore with the Hawaiki Cable will influence business in the region, it won't alter how Northlanders use the web at home.

Mr Mitten said the ultra-fast broadband roll-out will give people living in Whangarei the fastest internet in the country, something the Hawaiki Cable won't change.

Advertisement

"We are the first city in the country to be connected to ultra-fast broadband, that's something people should be excited about," he said.

The Hawaiki Cable will be the third underwater cable to arrive in New Zealand. The other two come ashore in Auckland.

"If Rangitoto were to erupt we'd still be connected," Mr Mitten said.

The final details are expected to be ironed out within the next few months, and cable due to be completed by the end of 2015.