Polynesian leaders confirm interest in new NZ-Hawaii submarine cable

3 Sep 2012

New Zealand-based Hawaiki Cable Ltd, which recently revealed plans to construct a submarine cable link between from Auckland and Sydney and Hawaii via numerous Pacific Islands, has confirmed that a number of Polynesian island nations have expressed an interest in connecting to the infrastructure via one of a number of branches. Pacific Scoop, citing the Cook Islands News, says that the mooted cable project has a design capacity of 8Tbps and is expected to connect to the likes of Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Samoa and American Samoa via optical add-drop multiplexer (OADM) devices.

Although the Hawaiki Cable project has been in the works for around three years, its backers only decided to go public last month after the well-publicised failure of the rival Pacific Fibre project, which was mothballed on 1 August this year after failing to secure sufficient capital to deploy a cable link between Auckland, Sydney and Los Angeles. However, Hawaiki’s Pacific Islands area manager Marc Collins told the website: ‘We can talk about [the Hawaiki project] now because I have had time to see the leaders of Samoa and American Samoa, and the president of New Caledonia, who are all pushing very strongly for this. Pacific Fibre went bankrupt three weeks ago so this is very recent and the opportunity right now for our project is quite unique – island leaders are a little bit frustrated, and they want to see a cable’.

The project’s 2014 delivery date, Collins says, is ‘contingent on our company being able to get all of the countries on board by the end of 2012’. However, Virginie Frouin, Hawaiki’s chief technical officer contradicted her colleague, by admitting that the project intends to go ahead regardless of whether it obtains support from all of the relevant Pacific leaders. ‘We don’t need all the islands to say yes to do this cable, we will not wait for every country to confirm. We will go ahead but by the end of the year we need an answer [in terms of] who wants to [connect] and who does not’.

As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate last week, the government of the Cook Islands has until the end of the year to accept or reject an offer from Hawaiki Cable Ltd to join the project. An additional branch, linking the cable to Tahiti in French Polynesia is also on the cards.

American Samoa, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Samoa, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna