On 14 September Darwin High School representatives were pleased to attend the official ‘switch on’ for Australia’s first purpose-built subsea fibre optic cable connecting Darwin to Port Hedland. The Darwin end of the North West Cable System is situated adjacent to Darwin High School and we have watched its progress with interest over the past 2 years.
The cable is an important feat of telecommunications engineering, providing state-of-the-art, high-speed data communications. The cable can transmit 80x100G per fibre pair – that’s the equivalent of 1.6 million HD Netflix movies simultaneously!
The official event was attended by Nextgen and their partners Inpex and Shell, as well as local and federal government ministers. The Hon. Lauren Moss, MLA an alumna of Darwin High, was pleased that her first official function as Minister for Corporate and Information Services was at her alma mater.
Prior to the official ‘switch on’ we had the pleasure of welcoming Mathew Shields, Technical Director & Project Manager from Nextgen, to our Stage 1, C4E Physics class. Matt provided an excellent overview of the system and network, details of the engineering challenges that were overcome to build the system, and a practical demonstration of total internal reflection to illustrate the scientific principle used in optical transmission in telecommunications systems.
Students were impressed by the presentation:
‘We really enjoyed the presentation. We found the concepts with the optic fibres, the supporting structure and the development with the models very interesting.’
‘We really enjoyed the laser water fountain demo and thought Mr Shields was a nice guy.’
After the presentation, students were treated to a tour of the cable station, including a briefing on key features such as the lightning protection, backup power systems and the electronics within the building.
Image 1: Students at the cable station with Mat.
Image 2: DHS representatives (Penny Beissbarth, Kevin Northcote and Anne Donnelly) with the Hon Lauren Moss MLA
Image 3: Demonstration of total internal reflection
Image 4: Matt presenting to the class