Bridging the Gaps: Submarine Fibre Optic Cables Around the Pacific Region
By John Hibbard and Paul McCann
July 20, 2020
Some 12 months ago we provided readers with an outline of the excellent progress that is being made in building the mesh of submarine fibre optic cables around the Pacific Region (“Lighting up the Pacific” – STF 107). In that paper we focused on the connectivity for Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and presented the following table showing the number of cables either existing or being constructed or planned in mid-2019 which service PICs.
Of the PICs being serviced by 54 cables, 34 involve spurs from BUs and 20 are point-to-point.
Additionally, we did an analysis of the submarine cables serving PICs which identified how adequately PICs are served with international cable connectivity. The following table indicates those with international connectivity to at least their capital city:
These tables clearly demonstrated that the Pacific Island nations were increasingly being connected with cables. But how are they going now, a year later – are we “Bridging the Gap” between ‘the haves and the have nots’ of the submarine cable world?
International Implementations in the Last 12 months
Since mid-2019, several international systems have been implemented and several more are planned.
The Coral Sea Cable
The Coral Sea Cable was implemented in December 2019 providing connectivity from Sydney to both Port Moresby (PNG) and Honiara (Solomon Islands). Port Moresby, the capital of PNG, is on the southern coast of the island of New Guinea. The country’s second city, Lae is on the northern side. Between them are the Owen Stanley Mountains with heights of 4000+ metres. There is no good road from north to south linking these major cities, so all transport must be by sea or air. Communications has historically been by satellite or microwave. However, even the use of microwave presents a major maintenance challenge with microwave towers at close to 4000 metres high. Access is by helicopter and only possible in good weather as the mountains are frequently engulfed in cloud.