A new high speed telecommunications cable straddling the Pacific Ocean brings new opportunities for several Pacific Islands to boost their digital communication capacities in the next few years.
The Hawaiki submarine cable system that runs between Sydney and the west coast of the United States with New Zealand and Hawaii in between. The route has potential to connect several South Pacific islands through spurs, and interest in the project is growing.
Last month, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key turned the sod on a beach in Northland where the cable will make landfall in July 2017. The cable, however, is expected to go live a year later in June 2018.
Considering the vital importance of broadband Internet for the socio-economic development of any country, Hawaiki presents a unique opportunity to have direct connectivity to a transpacific submarine cable system. It could potentially boost international connectivity benefiting businesses and consumers across the Pacific Islands region.
Several island nations are considering the opportunity, a Hawaiki spokesperson told Pacific Periscope in August this year, while the company was conducting marine surveys for the cable. The company offers an all-in-one package, including the subsea infrastructure, the marine maintenance, the international bandwidth and direct connectivity to major points of presence in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
American Samoa will likely have its spur in place in time and it is reported that Hawaiki is already in talks with companies in Fiji. CEO Remi Galasso told the Fiji Sun, “We are progressing well and have already been contacted by several parties.” Mr Galasso said the cable will pass within 220km of Suva.
Hawaiki is looking for partners to build the spur, working with a local operator or a joint venture. “We expect Hawaiki Cable system to be in service by June 2018, so Fiji could potentially be connected to Hawaiki at the same time,” Mr Galasso was quoted as saying.
The 3.5cm diameter cable, not much bigger than a New Zealand $2 coin, has a capacity to deliver more than 30 Tbps (terabytes per second) of data (Or 3300 high definition Hollywood movies in a single second).
It will be the highest cross-sectional capacity link between the US, Australia and New Zealand. It will greatly add to the existing capacity provided by the aging Southern Cross cable. The new system has a design life of at least 25 years needing no maintenance.
Hawaiki is an all-New Zealand owned and funded project with its headquarters in Auckland and the cable system has been co-developed by New Zealand-based entrepreneurs Sir Eion Edgar, Malcolm Dick and Remi Galasso. The project has attracted government buy-in to the tune of $65 million through REANNZ (the Crown-owned Research and Education Advance Networks NZ).
Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP, through its co-developer Malcolm Dick, recently donated fifty low cost state of the art Medicine Mondiale Lifepod Incubators for distribution in the Pacific Islands, with the first Incubators scheduled for delivery to Fiji and the Cook Islands in April 2017. The incubators have been specially designed to operate in the challenging developing world environment and while costing a fraction of conventional neonatal incubators come packed with an array of high tech features, a recent company news release said.
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