By Manasa Kalouniviti, Fiji Times Online

December 2, 2017

FIJI International Telecommunications Ltd (FINTEL) has committed an initial investment of $US20 million ($F41.9m) to the new submarine cable system, Southern Cross NEXT.

“This not only boosts Fiji's status as the telecommunications hub of the Pacific, but future-proofing Fiji well beyond 2030, and ensuring there is a reliable and resilient supply of international bandwidth to keep Fiji connected to the world,” George Samisoni, the CEO of FINTEL said.

He said the new cable would cost Southern Cross Cables about $US350m ($F730m) and it was targeted for completion by the fourth quarter of 2019.

“The NEXT project increases Fiji and our island neighbours' ability to stay connected in a world that relies on connectivity and to stay ‘always on' despite our remote locations,” Mr Samisoni said. He said the new wave of capacity and speed would put each nation on par with their bigger route partners when it came to bandwidth availability, speed, and latency.

The Southern Cross NEXT cable will run from Sydney to Los Angeles, connecting New Zealand, Fiji (including Suva and Savusavu), Samoa, Kiribati and Tokelau.

Mr Samisoni said the NEXT cable would be able to carry five times more than the current Southern Cross Cable capacity of 12 terabits per second.

“The new capacity paves the way for growth in demand, in particular, content,” he said.

The company also advised they had successfully negotiated with another international submarine cable, Hawaiki, for a branching unit to be installed in Fiji waters. Hawaiki is targeted to be operational by June 2018.

Hawaiki provides an alternative option to FINTEL/Fiji's international telecommunications link redundancy/resilience.

“FINTEL is appreciative of the Fiji Government's approval to allow for the installation of the branching unit,” Mr Samisoni said.

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