Vocus switches on ASC cable early as SMW-3 fails again

ASC Vocus SMW-3
Image credit: Vocus

Vocus has confirmed that it has switched on its Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) ahead of schedule – before final tests had been completed – following a major service disruption on the SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW-3) submarine cable between Perth and Singapore.

The 4,600km ASC – which follows the same route but offers considerably more capacity at an initial 40 Tbps, compared to SMW-3’s 4.6 Tbps – was completed by Vocus and Alcatel Submarine Networks in July. Last week, Vocus announced that the $170 million cable system was undergoing its final round of tests and would be ready for service by September 14.

However, Vocus CTO Simon Smith said in a statement Wednesday that the latest outage of SMW-3 – in which Vocus owns a 10% stake and uses to route traffic between Australia and Southeast Asia – prompted the carrier to implement an emergency cutover of services on SMW-3 to the ASC to minimize impact on its customers.

“The SMW-3 outage has forced our hand, but our testing on ASC is ahead of schedule and we are confident enough to press ASC into early service,” said Simon who approved early activation of services. “After consulting our team conducting final testing, we are confident that ASC is ready to provide reliable and effective services to mitigate the effect of the SMW-3 outage.”

Simon also said that Vocus engineers will continue their work to ensure the ASC is fully operational on or before September 14. The carrier doesn’t expect customers already committed and contracted to go live on September 14 to be impacted by the early switch-on.

The SEA-ME-WE3 system, which was completed in 2000, is the longest subsea cable system at 39,000 km, with 39 landing stations connecting Southeast Asia (including Australia), the Middle East and Western Europe. But it has been increasingly prone to outages in recent years. The Perth-Singapore link alone has suffered four outages since August 2017, including the current one that prompted Vocus to activate ASC early.

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