Telstra guarantees availability on select intra-Asia routes during cable breaks

Martijn Blanken, Telstra’s group managing director and chief customer officer of Global Enterprise and Services (GES)

Telstra has launched a new assured availability service on its subsea cable routes linking Hong Kong to Singapore and Japan to Hong Kong that promises fast and guaranteed rerouting when a cable breaks.

The ‘Always On’ service guarantee – announced at PTC 2017 in Honolulu on Monday – guarantees connectivity for subscribed bandwidth even in the event of a cable cut or damage from a natural disaster, with one primary path and two protection paths over different cable systems along the same route. In addition to staying connected, Telstra says, customers also benefit from cost savings associated with managing multiple vendors and paying for spare capacity that may not be used.

Martijn Blanken, Telstra’s group managing director and chief customer officer of Global Enterprise and Services (GES), says that switchover is initially guaranteed within six hours, “although in reality it will be faster.” In the future, he adds, automation technology will bring that cutover time down to a few minutes.

“Technologically, that level of automation is already happening to an extent. The reason we’re reluctant to guarantee at that level right now is because you still have to make sure that whatever route you’re switching over to has sufficient capacity to handle it,” Blanken told Disruptive.Asia. “So first I may have to fire up some additional capacity to support that switchover – that isn’t fully automated yet, but in the not-too-distant future that will all be automated.”

Of course, in the event of a cable break, subsea operators already have to reroute traffic as fast as possible anyway to keep their customers happy, and they’re faced with the same limitations in terms of capacity availability on alternate routes. The difference with assured availability, says Blanken, is that it’s guaranteed instead of best-effort, which also means that Telstra will do the heavy lifting in terms of resiliency planning.

“Currently customers buy a number of protected and unprotected services and they design a level of resiliency themselves,” he says. “So what we’re saying is on those routes you don’t have to worry about it. You get the guarantee that your services will continue to be up, and you no longer have to think about network resiliency because it’s been taken care of for you.”

Blanken says that Telstra chose those specific routes to launch the service partly because they account for the lion’s share of traffic on its intra-Asia network, but also because they’re already configured to support an assured availability offering.

“In order to make that guarantee, you have to have a number of paths in and out of each country where you control the electronics so that you can actively reroute the traffic,” he explains. “So we’ll start with these three countries, and we will add others later.”

The assured availability offer is available now, Blanken said. “We’ve already trialed it with a few companies, but we don’t have any official customers yet.”

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