North-West Cable System

The North West Cable System (NWCS) forms a key component to one of Australia’s largest nationwide fibre optic networks, developed by Nextgen Group to provide ultra-speed data networking to the northern and western regions of Australia.

The cable system seamlessly connects offshore O&G facilities in the Browse, Bonaparte and Carnarvon Basins to on shore locations including datacentres and business headquarters. This is achieved through:

  • 2,000km fibre between landing stations Port Hedland and Darwin
  • branching cables and riser cables to the O&G platforms
  • terrestrial optical fibre connectivity

The subsea cable system was be built and is owned operated by Nextgen Group, a national telecommunications operator with Australia’s second biggest long haul fibre network 17,000km.

“The North-West Cable System is a unique cooperation between the Telecommunications and Oil & Gas industries to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.” Michael Ackland, Director- Commercial and Strategy, Nextgen Group 


The Project

Announced in May 2014 and scheduled for completion in the first half of 2016, the project consists of three phases: the design phase, manufacture and deployment of the 2000km undersea cable and branching units. The cable is currently in the design phase.

The cable system will connect to the INPEX Icthys and Shell Prelude platforms as already announced. Branching units will be deployed for additional oil and gas platforms that contract before the manufacture of the subsea cable commences in late 2014.

“Leveraging our capabilities in terrestrial fibre optics and Nextgen’s world class national fibre backbone network, combined with Alcatel-Lucents subsea expertise, we were able to provide a solution that exceeded the expectations of the oil & gas industry through provision of a highly robust, fully diverse fibre optic communications service.” Mathew Shields, Technical Director North West Cable System, Nextgen Group

The Benefits

Australia is a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the third largest exporter in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2011 alone, Australia exported 18.9 million tonnes of LNG which was valued at approximately $11.1billion (

Many resource companies operate in this space and often in remote off-shore locations. The requirements for connectivity are driven by the operational improvements that are now available through the digitisation of every aspect of the platform operations.

The North-West Cable System offers an alternative solution to satellite connectivity with greater speeds and superior reliability, which is especially evident in adverse weather conditions.

Additionally the cable system connects the Pilbara region which has 44,000 employees and an export in excess or $47b AUD annually ( making it key for economic growth in Australia.

“The NWCS is a built for purpose, world class asset providing Australia’s resources sector with the connectivity, bandwidth and reliability to pursue new and highly productive operational models such as remote operations.” Simon Parker, Director Business Creation, Nextgen Group


Map Source:

Oil and Gas

The NWCS is integrated with the Nextgen Group terrestrial network to provide dedicated transmission services to off-shore oil and gas platforms. Services are available in speeds up to 40Gbps wavelengths, which connect into the Nextgen Group national terrestrial network – typically providing redundant connectivity for fault tolerance back to Perth.

The services can be provided back to Perth, Darwin or to the capital cities along the Eastern seaboard.

Applications of the cable include:

  • Remote Operations and Monitoring
  • Emergency Management
  • Live Remote Feed
  • Analysis of Telemetry information
  • On platform worker entertainment

“Whilst the North West Cable System provides connectivity to offshore platforms, it also forms part of Nextgen’s national network. It is integrated into Nextgen’s Operations and Management systems and is under the day to day control of Nextgen’s Network Operations Centre.” Phill Martell, CTO, Nextgen Group 


Customers connected to the North-West Cable System in Port Hedland will have access to the full suite of service offerings including:

Click here to view the full range of Nextgen services.

Nextgen Capability

Nextgen Group is spearheading the NWCS development and has engineered solutions to bridge the gap between on-shore and off-shore facilities. A number of unique technical challenges have been overcome to deliver fibre optic network to floating platforms in the region.

Nextgen has a history of delivering major ICT infrastructure to Enterprise level and Government customers.

Track Record major ICT infrastructure

  • Regional Backbone Blackspots Program (RBBP): In December 2009, Nextgen Networks (‘Nextgen’) was announced as the winning tenderer for the Australian Government’s $250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots Program (‘RBBP’) which has the specific objective of providing competitive wholesale backbone services to underserved regional markets.
  • Premier Media Group (Foxsports): Leveraging Nextgen’s technical expertise and extensive metro and long-haul national fibre-optic network, PMG has been able to put in place a cutting edge nation-wide Video Contribution Network for its AFL, NRL, Football, Rugby Union and other Fox Sports broadcasts. This will support PMG’s objective to extend its capability to deliver exceptional quality broadcasts of Australia’s most popular sports in HD. Nextgen extended its existing metro fibre network to provide Gbit/s connections into 15 major sports venues in Australia as well as into the headquarters of PMG.
  • NSW Government: Metronode, which is part of the Nextgen Group, won the $182 million contract with the New South Wales Government in May 2012 to provide data centre capacity. Metronode’s latest data centre heralds a new standard for the Australian data centre market as a purpose-built, green facility featuring free air cooling to deliver world leading energy efficiency and carbon emission reductions.

To see more of Nextgen’s project history please Click Here

Who is involved in this project?

NextGenLogo Nextgen Group is a leading supplier of network connectivity, Data Centre facilities and cloud services to Australian businesses, government agencies and telecommunications service providers. We deliver reliable data services and provide expert solutions for our customers. We connect people with each other and with the vital information they need.
Alcatel-logo Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN)Alcatel-Lucent is the world’s only fully integrated provider of turnkey submarine network solutions. Bringing all of the products and know-how needed to design and build optical communications links across the world’s oceans.Alcatel-Lucent operates 7 vessels for installing and maintaining submarine networks. Their ships are manned by qualified, experienced teams and are strategically located to service customers around the globe.




Pictured: Alcatel-Lucent Submarine cable laying ship

Read the Press Release:

“The subsea fibre optic cable system will provide the INPEX Ichthys Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Shell Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) projects…”