An Australian entrepreneur has unveiled an ambitious countrywide, fibre-optic network that could open significant commercial opportunities and make Australia a hub for international undersea networks traversing the troubled Indo-Pacific region.
HyperOne is a AU$1.5 billion hyperscale, national fibre network that will stretch more than 20,000 kilometres across Australia, and achieve speeds of 10,000 terabits per second.
Tech entrepreneur Bevan Slattery unveiled the plan earlier this week saying it was “big, bold, and way overdue.”
Domestically, the project is expected to complement the existing 5G and National Broadband Network, which has had a troubled rollout, and could be a major hit with regional areas and industries such as space, defence, mining, agri-tech, cloud computing, and data centres.
“All the existing national transmission networks were built back when there was no Youtube, Netflix, social media, iPhones, or even cloud, let alone the future industries,” Slattery said.
“We are adding more than 1,000 ‘on-ramps’ in regional and remote Australia enabling underserved communities and remote areas a cost effective way to access HyperOne,” he added.
Dr. Rob Nicholls, associate professor at the University of New South Wales and competition law expert, believes the project is commercially viable, and that there would be interest in a state-of-the-art fibre optic network.
“Slattery has a good track record in this regard. The key thing will be to get ‘anchor’ clients, and regional parts of Australia are likely to provide these,” he told The Epoch Times.
HyperOne, however, is also aiming to bolster Australia’s position as a major interconnection point for international sea cables transiting from Europe, via the Middle East, to Western Australia and through to Hong Kong, the United States, and even Antarctica.
“With the current geopolitical instability in the region, there is unprecedented opportunity for Australia to become the region’s leading, secure, and stable hub for future industries and jobs,” Slattery said.
According to Nicholls, “Subsea fibres have four forms of geopolitical instability challenges [in the Indo-Pacific].”
“One is delay. For example, it takes weeks to get permission to repair cables in Indonesian waters. The second is piracy, which is a high risk when cables are relatively shallow in areas such as the Malacca Sea. The third is changing territorial claims, mostly found in the South China Sea. And the fourth is extraterritorial reach,” he said.
HyperOne could help commercial operators bypass all these risks.
A total of 380 undersea cables drive the Internet, Wi-Fi, and immense volumes of voice and data traffic.
Cables are a hot button issue over fears of spying from malicious actors.
For example, last year, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Trump administration blocked plans for an undersea cable between Hong Kong and Los Angeles due to the involvement by a Chinese-backed company.
While in 2018, the Australian government stepped in to fund two-thirds of the Coral Sea Cable System linking Sydney to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. This came shortly after the Solomons inked a deal with controversial China-based firm Huawei in 2017 to lay the undersea cable.
“These types of proposals (HyperOne) are examples of the broad work underway to make Australia less vulnerable in its digital critical infrastructure, in light of an assertive Chinese state that doesn’t just use trade as a weapon but uses its technological reach and systems for leverage and advantage too,” Michael Shoebridge, defence director at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told The Epoch Times.
“HyperOne joins other proposals, like the Oracle-Canberra data centre hub, as ideas about strengthening Australia’s data capabilities, helping national resilience, and reducing the risks of vulnerabilities from current offshore dependencies and connections.”
The project is expected to generate over 10,000 jobs.
Discussions are already underway with the National Broadband Network, the Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund, telecommunications firms, as well as federal and state governments.