Australian telecom Telstra moving into Canada to connect businesses to Asia-Pacific through underseas network

Originally Published by The Globe and Mail
Author: Alexandra Posadzki

Australian-based telecom Telstra is expanding into Canada, with new infrastructure that will connect Toronto businesses directly to the Asia-Pacific region through a network of undersea cables.

To offer the service, Telstra will establish a point of presence in Toronto that will plug into its existing network in the U.S., where it has been operating for about 25 years. The new link will connect corporate Canada to a 250,000-mile cable network spanning the Pacific Ocean floor and into the Asian market.

Telstra will start offering services in Toronto in early 2021, with plans to expand to Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary. The telecom is targeting enterprise customers, such as technology and financial services firms with an eye on international growth, promising a faster, more secure line to their overseas operations.

In addition to serving Canadian clients, the new infrastructure will also give Australian businesses closer contact with Canada, something that Telstra’s existing clients have long been requesting, says Nicholas Collins, president of Americas for the Australian-based telecom.

“If you’re transacting mission critical, time-sensitive information from Canada to Asia-Pacific, then this new infrastructure will enable that to be a little faster than where it is today,” Mr. Collins said.

Telstra’s expansion comes amid a growing appetite for bandwidth driven by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Network traffic has surged globally as public health measures moved workplaces, schools and many other activities online, and Mr. Collins doesn’t foresee a return to normal.

“We don’t see it falling to prepandemic levels,” he said. “We think this is going to be such a fundamental shift in the way that people work moving forward, that the reliance on the network will continue to be fairly high.”

And as companies seek growth in the postpandemic economy, many will be looking to expand into new markets, opening foreign branches to support their expanding footprints, said Mr. Collins.

The Asian market is attractive owing to its rapidly growing middle class, which is expected to increase to 3.5 billion over the next decade. That’s up from about two billion currently, according to research from the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based public policy think tank.

“We’re excited about the opportunity that exists there, particularly as Canadian enterprises look for growth outside this part of the world,” said Mr. Collins.

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