New Sub­sea Cable Could Cut Prices, Lift Speed

NZ’s Hawaiki looks for part­ner here

Fiji Sun - - Weather / Tv, Movie Guide - FARZANA NISHA

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.”

Fi­jian Govern­ment

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

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.

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