The Missing Pacific Link
By Paul McCann
July 26, 2021
There are three primary island hubs for submarine cables in the Pacific Ocean – Hawaii, Guam and Fiji. Being centres for concentration and distribution of traffic, you might expect that these hubs would be linked together to provide the resiliency and connectivity to exploit the benefits of the submarine cables that connect to them. Certainly, Hawaii has a direct link to Guam, and Fiji is linked directly to Hawaii. However, there is no direct link between Fiji and Guam.
Is a submarine cable directly between Fiji and Guam the missing link of the Pacific?
Sure, there are circuitous cable connections between Fiji and Guam and there are already satellite connectivity options, but there is nothing remotely close to a direct submarine cable link to complete the “One-Pacific” triangle tying all three hubs together and achieving enhanced performance and security for the entire Pacific region, whilst also providing an ideal opportunity for cable connectivity with other currently “un-cabled” Pacific Islands.
So YES – a submarine cable directly linking Fiji and Guam completes the loop and is clearly the “missing link” for the Pacific Region!
The Fiji-Guam Cable
The total population of the twenty-two Pacific Islands is forecast to grow from 11 million to 17.7 million or more than 60 per cent by 2050. Development in these island nations is characterised by growing levels of urbanisation, considerable “health challenges” for existing populations, a population “youth bulge”, and a heavy reliance upon fisheries and tourism for economic growth — all good reasons to underpin investment and focus on the development of telecommunications in the Pacific Regions.
For the people of the Pacific, the Pacific Ocean itself is their major economic, social, and cultural lifeline. Its coastal and marine environments sustain a multitude of important activities that fuel local, national, and international economies and provide livelihoods and food security for millions of islanders. Culturally, the people of the Pacific demonstrate a strong sense of national and regional identity (maintaining kin connection and demonstrating kin loyalty). Retaining regional communication or traffic within the region itself is thus culturally appropriate.
The economic disadvantages of isolation have been high in the Pacific, however regional initiatives that are culturally acceptable and scaled correctly can be beneficial and sustainable. In the economic and trade fields, regional cooperation has been particularly notable across the region in the areas of fisheries, shipping, the environment, information exchange, and technical training – today we propose to add to this list an additional regional initiative: Pacific Regional Telecommunications! Today, the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA) and the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) to name just two, are organisations providing a close-knit regional forum for seeding telecommunications and network cooperation.