New Subsea Cable Could Cut Prices, Lift Speed
NZ’s Hawaiki looks for partner here
Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP is looking for a partner in Fiji as it develops the second subsea trans-Pacific telecommunications cable. Its survey ship has been in Suva in recent weeks. Hawaiki Cable’s chief executive Remi Galasso, a Frenchman with wide experience in international telecommunications, said from his New Zealand base: “We are progressing well and have already been contacted by several parties.” Such a connection could potentially provide better Internet speeds and pricing here. The NZ$500 million fibre-optic cable would link New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and the United States mainland with provision for a branch cable to connect with Fiji.
It will provide an alternative to the existing Australian and New Zealand telecom company owned Southern Cross cable which Fiji is already connected with. New Zealand prime minister John Key inaugurated construction of the New Zealand private sector funded Hawaiki cable last week at a ceremony at the landing station north of Auckland. He answered questions from Radio New Zealand about whether his country needs a further subsea connection, in addition to Southern Cross.
“Firstly the digital demand is so great these days, and the use is exponentially growing,” he told the radio station.
“Secondly, these cables only last 25 years, so Southern Cross is actually coming near the end, effectively, of its economic life.” Hawaiki Cable is planned to be in operation in June 2018, connecting Australia and New Zealand to US landing stations in Hawaii and Oregon. Hawaiki is looking at adding connections to American Samoa, New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga in the Pacific. TE SubCom is building the cable. Those backing the project include one of New Zealand’s richest families, the Edgars, and one of its leading fixed line telecommunications business entrepreneurs, Malcolm Dick.
Its Fiji partnership would be to develop a successful business model through an agreement with a local telco or the creation of a joint-venture. This is to connect with the subsea cable passing 220 kilometres from Suva. Mr Galasso said the marine survey started in August this year and will be completed by mid-December. “Our survey vessel was in Suva a few weeks ago,” he said. Hawaiki Cable has already signed contracts with American Samoa and Tonga to connect with Hawaiki through branch cables, he said. Mr Galasso said they have also decided to install branching units on the main cable for links with Fiji and New Caledonia. “We believe these two countries are the fastest growing Internet markets in the Pacific Islands region,” he said. “Cable manufacturing has begun in September and 1,500 km of cable have already been manufactured so far in the factory of our supplier TE SubCom,” Mr Galasso said.
“Finally, cable laying will start around mid-2017 and last for about 6 months depending on weather conditions.” “We expect Hawaiki Cable system to be in service by June 2018, so Fiji could potentially be connected to Hawaiki at the same time.”
The Fijian Government is well aware of Hawaiki Cable’s plans and interest in Fiji. This was confirmed by the Ministry of Communications acting Permanent Secretary Sharvada Sharma. Mr Sharma said Hawaiki Cable offers a po
tential redundancy option for Fiji as far as submarine cable connectivity is concerned.
“Fiji currently relies on the Southern Cross cable for its international connectivity via submarine cable,” he said. Mr Sharma said Hawaiki is a separate provider and as such Fiji will have an option to connect to it through a branching unit.
“More connectivity may also mean better pricing for our international bandwidth,” he said.
“As it stands Hawaiki will build a branching unit off Viti Levu and this can be tapped into in the future by our telecommunications sector if necessary.”
Such a connection could potentially provide better Internet speeds and pricing here.
FINTEL (Fiji International Telecommunications) chief executive George Samisoni said FINTEL is in discussion with Hawaiki and facilitated approval for its cable route survey in Fijian waters.
FINTEL is part of Fiji’s major telecommunications conglomerate, Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH).
It links Fiji with the Southern Cross cable through a landing station at Vatuwaqa, Suva. Mr Samisoni said: “Hawaiki complements as well as provides an alternative/diverse option to the current Southern Cross Cable Network which Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa (2017) is currently interconnected with, for access to global communications.
“Hawaiki is one option in providing resilience/redundancy to Fiji and the Pacific region requirements for international telecommunications.”
Hawaiki Cable survey ship has been in Suva in recent weeks.
Hawaiki Cable’s chief executive Remi Galasso.