A $100 million deal has just been signed for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art fibre optic cable between Darwin and Port Hedland. 

Shell and INPEX have contracted Melbourne-based communications company Nextgen Group to build an optical fibre cable that will enable high-speed data transfer to projects their projects off the Kimberley coast.

Nextgen will build, own and operate the cable system, which will stretch about 2000kms between Darwin and Port Hedland, to support the INPEX Ichthys LNG project and Shell's Prelude LNG project in the Browse Basin.

The cable is planned to have a capacity of eight terrabits per second, with room to be upgraded to more than 32 terrabits per second.  French telecommunications group Alcatel-Lucent have also been brought into the deal for their experience with undersea technology.

Work on the project will begin soon and carry over a two-year period, scheduled for completion in 2016, and will be connected to Nextgen’s new Shenton Park data centre.