By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

The undersea cable outage in July that cut off the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands’ telecommunications link to the rest of the world has sparked a future competitor to make a move.

Guam-based DOCOMO PACIFIC announced Thursday it’s received approval from its parent, NTT DOCOMO Japan, to lay an undersea cable link to the CNMI and “to take the project forward to the next level.”

The succeeding steps include landing site surveys, selecting consultants and vendors, initiating the federal and local permitting process, and considering various financing options, including possible partners and investors, according to DOCOMO PACIFIC.

The CNMI Senate and House of Representatives recently unanimously approved resolutions opening the door for the CNMI governor’s office to assist DOCOMO PACIFIC in various logistical efforts, including the application for and processing of permits for a new undersea fiber optic cable project between Guam and the CNMI, DOCOMO PACIFIC announced.

“In light of recent events, including the submarine cable outage between Tinian and Saipan and the devastation caused by recent typhoon activity, the timing of the CNMI Legislature’s resolution couldn’t be better,” said Jonathan Kriegel, DOCOMO PACIFIC’s president and chief executive officer.

“As DOCOMO PACIFIC explores all facets of a possible cable build, garnering this type of support from the CNMI’s leadership sends a strong signal that they understand just how important staying connected is for the future of the islands,” he said.

Currently, a single undersea fiber-optic cable connects Guam to the CNMI. The cable, owned by IT&E, is nearly 20 years old, according to DOCOMO PACIFIC.

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