SUBSEA CABLE SPECIAL 2014: The ends of the earth

26 February 2014 | Guy Matthews


There are only a few countries left which have yet to be connected to the global grid via subsea cable.

The vast Pacific Ocean, with its tiny, far-flung archipelagos, is home to a number of these remaining satellite-reliant economies, but their isolation is nearly at an end. A number of “ends of the earth” cable projects have now received funding from sources such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

One such is the Pacific Regional Connectivity Project, an 837km-long cable that will shortly be connecting Fiji and Tonga. The project’s rationale is to provide inexpensive homeward connectivity to the estimated 300,000 Tongans who are currently living overseas. The $34 million project will multiply Tonga’s internet capacity by a factor of 6,000.

The Interchange Vanuatu Cable Project will be the island’s first international fibre connection. The 1,224km cable will hook Vanuatu up with the town of Suva in Fiji, where traffic can flow on via the Southern Cross system which currently links Australia and New Zealand with the US west coast.

At some point next year another Pacific cable, operated by the Solomon Oceanic Cable Company, is scheduled to connect the Solomon Islands to Sydney and Guam. The project is costing $78 million.

“The French Polynesia Cable System, which is expected to be ready for service in 2015, is connecting Tahiti, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, with an option to link Tahiti and the Easter Islands,” says Faisal Ghaus, research head with TechNavio, a consultancy that advises on global technology trends. “The cable system is expected to enhance the tourism activity in these islands.”