New subsea cables being planned in APAC

It’s not just the Nordics getting into the data centre business. If Remi Galasso (founder of Hawaiki Cable) and Malcolm Dick (co-founder of CallPlus) get their way, the southern hemisphere will soon be following in the footsteps of Northern Hemisphere countries such as Iceland by exploiting the cold climate and cheap sustainable power to become a significant data and cloud hub.

Datagrid New Zealand plans to build a $400 million hyperscale data centre on New Zealand’s South Island which will be located in North Makarewa. This will open up close to 20 million customers in eastern Australia and New Zealand to tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Aecom will design the facility with energy being delivered by Meridian Energy from its hydro generation plant in Manapouri. Galasso points out though that cooling will be halved due to all that cool air down in South Island, resulting in a 15% decrease in electricity costs.

The key challenge with developing data centres in the extreme southern hemisphere has always been connectivity. Datagrid plans to overcome this by building two new subsea cables at a cost of $100 million. The first will be a 2900km connection from Invercargill, New Zealand to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. The second will connect Hawaiki Cable’s landing point at Mangawhai Heads to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

According to IT News, the cable is designed to have four fibre pairs on the Invercargill to Sydney leg and 16 fibre pairs between Sydney and Melbourne. The plan is for the cable to be lit in 2023 although Datagrid says there is potential for other branches, such as one to the Chatham Islands’ Rocket Labs’ satellite tracking station, Stewart Island and Antartica.

The project is being funded through a combination of equity and debt from infrastructure investors in New Zealand but requires a so-called ‘anchor tenant’ – ie a significant cloud player that will commit to the data centre – without which the project won’t be viable.

This announcement follows the news that in September 2020 Microsoft was granted approval for a $100 million+ data centre in Auckland.