ALCATEL-LUCENT TO INSTALL PACIFIC UNDERSEA CABLE

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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, Jan. 15) - French Polynesia's Post and Telecommunications office (OPT, Office des Postes et Télécommunications) has late last week signed a 72.2 million euro [US$107.2 million] deal with French telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent as the preferred bidder to install a new high-speed fibre optic cable between Tahiti and the American State of Hawaii, the French company said in a release.

French Polynesia's OPT have also nicknamed the cable project "Honotua" (the overseas link, in Tahitian language).

[PIR editor’s note: Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent is one of the world’s largest telecommunication companies, doing business in 132 countries.]

Once installed, the undersea high-speed connection to Hawaii (for a total length of some 4,650 kilometres) and the rest of the world is expected to considerably increase the level of connectivity, mainly in terms of Internet broadband.

Local authorities are also banking on the future appeal of their destination for future metropolitan French and foreign investors, thanks to the new connection.

The target speed and bandwith of the new fibre optic has been announced at 32 x10 Gigabytes per second.

The project is expected to be completed by mid-2010 and up and running later on that same year.

The multi-million dollar project is expected to be financed by OPT itself (for some 25 million US dollars), French Polynesia's territory (20 million US dollars).

The rest of the cost could be financed by way of a loan, depending of the French government's yet-to-be-determined involvement in the project, French Polynesia's government said.

French State Secretary for Overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, the minister in charge of French Polynesia, had last year expressed interest in taking part in the project.

The future cable is also part of a regional project, driven by both the §Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) which also purports to inter-connect existing and future cables across the Eastern and Western Pacific in order to create a high-speed data transfer network.

Meanwhile, in the South-Western Pacific, Australian telecommunications company Pipe Networks will build another crucial component of the future Pacific broadband network: a US$180 million submarine cable link between Sydney and Guam.

The cable will also be connected to Madang in Papua New Guinea.

The official announcement for what has been codenamed "Pipe Pacific Cable 1" (PPC-1) Runway is expected to be made in Melbourne on Monday next week by Australian federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

Pipe Networks is based in Brisbane.

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