Interchange, a Vanuatu-based company, and Alcatel-Lucent have signed an agreement to deploy Vanuatu’s first international submarine cable system linking Port Vila, Vanuatu, to Suva, Fiji. Scheduled for completion in mid 2012, the new system will be equipped for 20Gbps data transfer (over 200 times Vanuatu’s current capacity), with ultimate capacity of 320Gbps to vastly improve connectivity to the Pacific island nation, while removing the dependence on satellite. Interchange will construct, own, and operate the 1,230km submarine cable system, which will link directly into the high capacity Southern Cross Cable between Sydney and Hawaii. At a cost of USD30 million, the submarine cable project is largely funded by the private sector, although government-run Vanuatu Post was a seed investor in Interchange. The Vanuatu government has also committed to the pre-purchase of capacity.