Australian PM Turnbull confirms subsea cable link to Solomon Islands

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has unveiled that a new subsea cable linking the Solomon Islands and Papa New Guinea with Australia is set to go live by the end of 2019.

The cable, which will have landing points in Port Moresby and Honiara, is part of an agreement between Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Vocus Communications, a deal which will see Vocus deploy the cable on behalf of the government later this year.

Tender documents, as covered by ZDNet, showed that the agreement is worth AU$2.8 million to Vocus, who will begin scoping a path for the cable including consultation with the governments of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Turnbull confirmed that the Australian government is backing the project in a joint statement with Rick Houenipwela, the Prime minister of the Solomon Islands.

Today we affirm our commitment to deliver a high-speed undersea telecommunication cable between Australia and Solomon Islands," Turnbull and Houenipwela said.

"The joint project will be a first for Solomon Islands, which is wholly reliant on satellite technology to access the internet."

The partnership between the two countries is being struck under the Cyber Cooperation Program, which was announced in May 2016 and aims to boost the resources behind Australia’s cyber capacity building efforts in the Indo-Pacific. It will see improved connectivity and enhanced security for the Solomon Islands, which is currently reliant on satellite for its internet access.

"Through the Cyber Cooperation Program, Australia is working with Solomon Islands to manage these risks by strengthening its cybersecurity architecture and combating cybercrime," the two prime ministers said, according to ZDNet.

"Together, we can ensure these projects are transformational for Solomon Islands and foster a new phase in our strong bilateral relationship."

Vocus is also in the process of laying out its new Australia-Singapore subsea cable, which links Perth to Singapore via Jakarta and Christmas Island. The initial 4,600km cable laying was due to finish this week and was being carried out by Alcatel Submarine Networks.

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