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Thanks for participating in our live chat session. Please keep your eye on our blog to see when the next live chat is scheduled. These sessions are an important communication tool for PIPE International.

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When a project of this nature is launched there are always environmental concerns over the installation of such a system.

PPC-1 has had to go through rigorous scrutiny to ensure that any potential environmental impacts are avoided or minimised. To this end, as a part of the ACMA permitting regime, PI embarked on a 6-month Environmental Impact Assessment.

The results of the assessment were submitted to the Federal Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Artsfor approval under the Environmental Protection and Bidiversity Conservation Act.

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PPC-1 will use the latest Gen 3 transmission technology from Tyco Telecom.

Fibre Optic Undersea Cable
The cables to be used on PPC-1 come from the SL17 (17mm) family. Tyco Telecom has manufactured many thousands of kilometres for numerous large cable systems.

Undersea Repeaters
The repeater amplifies the optical signal so that it can be transmitted over long distances. Tyco Telecom 980-nanometer undersea repeaters use state-of-the-art Erbium-doped optical amplifier technology to achieve high performance and high reliability to transmit multiple-wavelength signals on the fibre pairs over transoceanic distances. The current repeater design can accommodate one to eight optical amplifier pairs in two physical designs.

Undersea Branching Units (BU)
A Branching Unit acts like a fork in the road as it provides a means to divide a single cable into two cables. This functionality allows for the creation of “express routes” and “local routes”; the “express” route normally consists of a direct path, while the “local” route provides access to other cable stations. Both Power Switched and Passive BUs incorporate robust electrical and mechanical technology used since the beginnings of optical undersea systems.

Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE)
The SLTE create the high quality, multiplexed optical signal suitable for transoceanic transmission.
The main components of SLTE are:

  • 10 Gb/s High Performance Optical Equipment (HPOE) – provides special grooming of the optical line signal to enable transmission over distances in excess of 12,000 km without regeneration.
  • Wavelength Termination Equipment (WTE) – provides the Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) and Wavelength Division Demultiplexing (WDD) functions.
  • Terminal Line Amplifier (TLAs) – provides output & input amplification of the transmitted & received optical signal, respectively.

Line Monitoring Equipment
The optical line monitoring system provides in-service performance monitoring and out-of-service fault location for our undersea cable and repeaters.

Power Feed Equipment (PFE)
The PFE are used to power the undersea repeaters from shore. Two HV PFE’s one in Sydney, the other in Guam will provide up to 12,500 volts at at up to 1.6 Amps, sufficient for the single-end power feeding of the PPC-1 system.

Further information can be found at

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PPC-1 will link Sydney, Australia with Piti, Guam via a 6,900km submarine cable. Along the way, the cable will pass some of the most well-known sites and features of the ocean, such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Marinas Trench.

PPC-1 will be buried off Sydney to 2000m water depth at a burial depth of 1.5 metres to protect the cable from fishing activity on the Australian continental shelf. The cable will follow the Eastern seaboard of Australia laying at the base of the continental slope to avoid any slumping events as it makes its way into the Solomon and Bismarck seas, before heading almost due North to Guam. The cable has 4 branching units – one off Sydney, one off Brisbane, one off Port Moresby and the final off Madang.

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Permit Matrix

The Permit Matrix is a key document that tracks all of the required permits for PPC-1. The doument lists the following data:

  • Name of Permit
  • Permitting Authority
  • Esitmated time for approval
  • Latest date permit can be approved
  • Date permit filed (target & actual)
  • Date Permit granted (target & actual)

The Matrix is a live document that is updated fortnightly following a teleconference with the Permitting group. The group is made up of people from PIPE and Tyco. Any cells that are blank are waiting for information to be entered.

Below is an example of the Permit Matrix from April 2008.

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Project Planning

The project has to follow very strict timescales in order to meet the Ready For Sevice (RFS) date of September 2009. In order to do this there are two key documents that track various parts of the project, the Permit Matrix and the Plan Of Work (POW).

In addition to these two documents, there are smaller POWs that cover specific sections (such as the terrestrial fibre builds, construction works, surveying etc). The overview of the POW for the whole project is as follows:

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Guam Permitting

The permitting regime in Guam is a little more complicated than in Australia. The requirements aim to cover the same issues as Australia but the party needs to contact the various federal and regional agencies independently, rather than going to one authority who handles all the consultation.

To land and operate a fibre-optic cable system connecting the United States to another country it is necessary to first obtain an FCC licence. As PPC-1 will connect Guam, a US territory, with Australia and Papua New Guinea, PIPE International must obtain such a licence to operate PPC 1. With the assistance of our Washington-based US law firm, PIPE International submitted its application for the FCC licence in February.

In late February we travelled to Washington to introduce Pipe International and PPC-1 to ‘Team Telecom’, the informal nickname given to the various US agencies who review new telecommunications applications with foreign ownership.The Team Telecom agencies include the Departments of Justice, Defence and Homeland Security, as well as the FBI. As is probably clear from the identity of its constituent agencies, Team Telecom’s focus is on US national security, law enforcement and public safety interests. The conclusion of the consultation process is the entry into a security agreement with the Team Telecom agencies. Pipe International continues to consult with Team Telecom and negotiate the security agreement.

The regional permitting in Guam has been made easier for PPC-1 by virtue of the fact that we will be using existing landing infrastructure to reach the Cable Landing Station. This means that there is very little excavation and construction to do. We can also land our cable without having to disturb the reef shelf that surrounds the landing site near Piti.

Permits in Guam rely on approval from 6 or 7 different agencies (Guam Coastal Management Program, US Army, Dept Lands, Guam EPA, Dept Public Works, Dept Parks). Application is made to all agenices simultaneously.

The key regional permits for PPC-1 are issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers. They cover general project information such as location for work, spoil removal from excavations, reasons for the project, as well as section 10 and section 404 permits covering the Rivers and Harbours and Clean water Acts.

For PPC-1, approval is only required from the Army and the Guam Coastal Management Program as we are using exsiting duct infrastructure to land the cable.

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Australian Permitting

In Australia the permit process is controlled by Schedule 3A of the Telecommunications Act.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, or ACMA is responsible for administering the permit process laid out by the Act. ACMA is responsible for two types of permit, Protection Zone and Non-Protection Zone. The permits cover such issues as:

  • Environmental impacts
  • Cable crossings
  • Efficient routing
  • Technical engineering
  • Commercial aspects of the system (maintenance agreements, repairs/spares policy etc)
  • Benefits to Australia

So what do they mean exactly? Let’s deal with the Protection Zone first…

A Submarine Cable Protection Zone (to give it its full name) is a federally designated area where submarine cables of national significance should be laid in order to gain maximum protection. The risks are most likely to come from boats and ships dopping their anchors, commercial fishermen and recreational users of the sea (including divers and fishermen). If a cable in a Protection Zone is damaged from one of the above activities, there are severe penalties that can be applied to the offender.

There are three such zones across Australia. The two zones off Sydney (Southern and Northern) are shown in a map at the bottom of this page. They have been designed to cover the existing East Coast cables, namley Southern Cross (SX) and Australia-Japan Cable (AJC). The third zone is currently under public consultation before being declared and is in Perth. This zone is designed to cover the Se-Me-We-3 cable.

In addition to AJC and SX, the cables of APNG-2 (Australia to Papua New Guinea) and Gondwana-1 (Australia to New Caledonia) also land in the Northern Protection Zone. The Southern Protection Zone is used soley by AJC and SX.

PPC-1 will land in the Northern Protection Zone.

The zones vary in size but all extend to the 2000m water depth mark. From this point to the edge of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Non-Protection Zone permit takes over. In PPC-1′s case this permit covers the cable all the way up the East Coast of Australia to a point north-east of the Great Barrier Reef, in the Coral Sea.

In addition to the information that the ACMA require, approval also has to be sought from the Department of Lands to occupy Crown Land as well as from the Department of the Environment to ensure compliance with the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This in itself requires up to 6 months of scientific study and reporting.

Once all of these conditions are met, a cable company will have all of the permits required to land and operate a cable in Australia.

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PPC-1 Media Launch (Day 1)

Today PIPE formally launched PPC 1 in the Primus Data Centre in Melbourne, Australia.  Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy announced the launch of PPC 1 with a video link to our directors Bevan Slattery and Steve Baxter, who were attending the PTC 08 conference in Hawaii.

In his speech, Senator Conroy said, “PPC 1 has the potential to improve Australia’s transmission capacity and increase competition in the Australian telecommunications market place. This is great news for Australian Internet users because the result will be faster, cheaper broadband.”

Bevan then delivered a presentation to the media and answered questions from journalists via videolink.

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