Well-connected in the west

Western Australia has always been well-connected to the rest of the world: WA is in the same time zone as one quarter of the world’s urbanised population; international migration is the source of most of Western Australia’s population growth; WA is the focus of international investment in the resource sector; it’s also the national powerhouse of commodity exports and now, it is the first city in Australia to have direct flights to London. However, for nearly twenty years, Western Australia has relied heavily on a single submarine telecommunications cable to connect to the rest of the world. The Sea-Me-We-3 cable between Perth and Singapore has been a mainstay of WA’s Internet telecommunications network since 1999. And it has done an amazing job in that time, with its carrying capacity increasing by a factor of 230 times through technological improvements. Except when it has been severed, such as in 2012 and 2013 and 2015 and three times in 2017 (mainly by underwater earthquakes, rockslides, anchors or fishing activities). That’s not usual and almost every week at least one of the 400+ submarine cables around the world is cut and will need repairing.

While Internet traffic can be rerouted around the world (assuming spare capacity in other cables), it comes at a cost of added latency. The effect is widespread across business as well as affecting our our ability to download high definition movies and TV shows.

This economic vulnerability will be addressed comprehensively when the ASC cable linking Perth and Singapore, via Indonesia, lights up in July 2018. This will be followed in early 2019 with Indigo West linking Perth to Jakarta/Singapore and Indigo Central liking Perth to Sydney. Combined, these will deliver a 25-fold increase in total carrying capacity to 117 Tbits per second.

One of the direct benefits is that it will provide fast links between the eastern states universities and research institutions and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Bentley, Western Australia.

For Perth businesses, it means faster and more reliable Internet access to the state’s major trading partners and to the massive consumer markets to the north (for example to deliver telehealth and education services into those markets). Another benefit is that it makes Perth a far more attractive proposition for data centres and cloud servers to cater for the Asian market.

MacroPlan has been doing a range of related projects, including investigating the future of work and developing strategies to harness the smart jobs opportunities of the knowledge economy into ‘something real on the ground’.


MacroPlan’s experienced and qualified economists align their understanding of macro-economic forces with micro-economic variables such as geographic and industrial characteristics, demographics, labour market shifts, resource demand and commercial realities.  Contact Stuart McKnight, General Manager – Western Australia, today to discuss your property research requirements.