NZ Landing Station an ‘Obvious Choice' for Chile-to-China Internet Cable
By Tom Pullar-Strecker, Stuff.co.nz
September 5, 2019
Chile could put the New Zealand government on the spot by asking it to allow a proposed US$500 million (NZ$794m) internet cable linking Chile and China to come ashore in Auckland, industry sources believe.
A spokesman for Communications Minister Kris Faafoi said the Government was aware of the cable plan but “no formal approach” had been made to New Zealand for a landing station so far.
That could change soon. United States company WFN Strategies announced overnight on Thursday that Chile's Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry had jointly awarded a US$3 million (NZ$4.9m) contract for a feasibility study for the Chile-to-China cable to the company and fellow US firm TMG.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters visited Chile in July, and a source believed he had discussed the project with the Chilean government.
But a spokesman for Peters was not able to confirm that.
China's state-run press agency Xinhua has reported that the cable would begin in the Chilean city of Valparaiso “passing New Zealand, Australia and French Polynesia” on its way to Shanghai.
An alternative, more expensive, route could see the cable instead terminate in Japan.
Long submarine fibre-optic cable networks need to come ashore periodically, in order to connect to a power source, and an industry source said a New Zealand landing station was an “obvious choice”.
The venture is being advanced at a time when Chinese involvement in the global telecommunications industry is being stymied by the United States government, with the GCSB also currently blocking a proposal from Spark to use Huawei equipment in its proposed 5G mobile network.
Reuters has reported that Chilean president Sebastian Pinera met with representatives from Huawei on a visit to China in April and invited the company to participate in a tender for the 24,000 kilometre cable, which has been promoted as a “bridge” between China and Latin America.