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The 3,207-mile cable arrived at the Big Island this week

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, March 2, 2010) - Honotua, a 3,107-mile (5,000-km) submarine fiber optic cable linking French Polynesia with Hawai΄i, has officially landed on the Big Island.

French Polynesia Vice President Edouard Fritch and Hawai΄i County Mayor Billy Kenoi were joined by other dignitaries from Tahiti and Hawai΄i Monday in celebrating the opening of a new chapter in relations between the two Polynesian destinations.

"The links between Tahiti and Hawai΄i stretch back further than recorded history,” Hawai΄i 24/7 noted online. That “connection entered the 21st Century" Monday as the high-speed cable Honotua arrived on Ohaiula (Spencer Beach) in Kawaihae on the Big Island, Hawai΄i 24/7 and Pacific Business News reported.

The news reports emphasized that this is "the first Polynesian submarine cable linking the United States and Tahiti".

Tahiti’s Vice President Fritch said, "The possibilities for scientific research, distance learning, cultural exchange and telemedicine are among the opportunities for this region as a result of this historic landing," Pacific Business News reported.

Honotua, Tahitian for "the link towards the open sea", symbolizes the shared past and best future between Tahiti and Hawai΄i, State Sen. Kalani English said during the ceremonies.

François Voirin, board chairman of the French Polynesia Office des Postes et Télécommunications (OPT), provided a more detailed translation of Honotua. "Hono translates to ‘link’ and Tua translates to ‘backbone, horizon at sea,’" he said.

“Hawai΄i ans and Tahitians have established links through voyaging canoes long before European explorers," Voirin continued. "Honotua reestablishes this connection, positioning both countries for improved communication technology entirely relevant for the information age."

Testing of the final cable connection began Tuesday, with Honotua due to begin "live operation" in June or July.

The five-year-old project with an overall 9.5 billion French Pacific franc (US$110.5m/€796m) cost entered the cable-laying stage in French Polynesia’s Leeward Islands last November.

The project is being carried out by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, a specialist with similar cable-laying projects in other parts of the Pacific.

After the Alcatel-Lucent cable laying ship Île de Ré linked Bora Bora, Raiatea and Huahine with Tahiti’s sister island of Moorea, the vessel brought Honotua to Tahiti’s north coast Commune of Papenoo in December and a special OPT station.

The Île de Ré then began placing 2,808 miles (4,520 km) of cable from Papenoo to the Big Island of Hawai΄i. The cable’s biggest depth is 19,500 feet (5,944 meters).

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