TechInPacific – The Cook Islands Government has officially declared that the construction of the Manatua submarine cable that will connect the Cook Islands to the Polynesian nations is at mid-term.
The cable is 3,600 km long, with 32 repeaters installed. Subcom, the manufacturer of the project, scheduled the cable installation at the end of this year. The cable is expected to be ready for service in May 2020. Once this is done, the Cook Islands will have its first cable connection to the global Internet, which will eliminate the current connections that use satellite.
The cable is designed to provide 10Tbps Internet, built by Subcom for a consortium including the Cook Island Government and Avaroa Cable. The project will cover many regions of Polynesia, including Samoa, Niue, Raratonga, Aitutaki, Tahiti and Bora. It will provide a direct link between Apia and Tahiti and will have branch units to Niue, Aitutaki, Rarotonga and Bora Bora.
The investment allocated for the cable amounts to NZ$15 million financed by the New Zealand Government and an additional NZ$15 million lent by the Asian Development Bank and the Cook Islands Government.
Avaroa Cable also reports that two cable landing stations, one on Rarotonga and the other on Aitutaki, are currently under construction. The manufacturer of modular data centres in Western Australia, the Data Exchange Network (DXN), issued a press release in July indicating that it had been awarded a contract worth NZ$1.2 million to assist the two landing stations.
Jonathan Brewer, a New Zealand telecommunications consultant and active writer on the APNIC blog, said cable would increase Internet speed for all connected sites. “French Polynesia wants to improve the resilience of its unique cable since its commissioning in 2010. Samoa’s goal is to become the information technology hub for the South Pacific by 2020,” Brewer continues, adding that the Cook Islands plans to do without the satellite since 2013.
However, despite the low cost of the Internet, Brewer suggested that commercial interference could result in cable not providing optimal connectivity.
“In an ideal world, Manatua’s cable would connect the Pacific islands to each other, and Internet capacity could be purchased at low prices in centres such as Samoa and Fiji. Traffic from the Cook Islands would use any available route, and the least latent connection to all terminals would always be used…..
“Commercial realities mean that the Cook Islands is unlikely to be able to obtain economic connectivity from its neighbours, and a single-track solution will be adopted to meet the needs of the economy, perhaps supported by existing satellite arrangements. In this case, the obvious winner from the end-user’s point of view will be a short jump from Apia to Pago Pago Pago, and service on the Hawaiki cable.”