Telecommunications Cable From Fiji Arrives In Vanuatu

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Plan reportedly in the works to link up MSG member countries

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 27, 2013) – The 1259 km submarine fibre optic cable connecting Fiji to Vanuatu has finally reached the shore at its landing station at Mele Bay on Efate.

According to Interchange Chief Executive Officer Simon Fletcher, the project remains on track to be ready for service by January 15 next year.

The cable laying was rolled out by Alcatel Lucent which will now concentrate on commissioning the dry plant.

Another step closer to connect Vanuatu to the global submarine network, the cable actually landed in the early hours of the morning yesterday but due to security and safety reasons a celebratory ceremony attended by stakeholders of the project and Government Officials including both Prime Minister Moana Carcasses and Deputy PM Edward Natapei was staged near the landing spot yesterday lunch.

On shore the cable which is around 5cm in diameter was connected to a manhole at the beach where it connects to the terrestrial cable that runs through to Meteo Office ending all the wet plans of the project.

The Vanuatu-based telecommunications company responsible for the project, Interchange has rolled out a terrestrial cable from Mele Bay Beach Man Hole to the Prima cable landing station facility.

The installation of an additional terrestrial fibre service that links the landing station to the Vanuatu Internet eXchange (VIX) in cooperation with the eGovernment network has also been completed.

"This is a recent breakthrough, in partnership with the eGovernment network, Interchange has decided to extent its cable network to a convenient location where other carriers and ISP in this country can connect without having to install the usual fiber optic networks in the ground," said Fletcher.

Speaking of the cable he said it is "greatly important and is an umbilical cord for Vanuatu given that it has trust itself and have invested into the development of ICT and it needs to be backed up to ensure that the service stays alive and stay on for the companies that we try to attract."

To mark the cable landing which is a major part of the project, Mr Fletcher also revealed the next steps to be taken in order to make Vanuatu the ICT hub of the region.

"To do that we need to attract a second one so Interchange is likely to signoff on our second cable system which will link all the way to Port Moresby running through Santo to connect the people of Santo, potentially to Malekula if funding are available, and to Honiara in the Solomon Islands and then off to Port Moresby.

"The key element here is to set a standardized prizing across Melanesia and linkup all Melanesian Spear Head Group Countries since there is also an extension plan for Noumea as well."

In a nutshell he said Vanuatu is going to have three separate connections eventually to which to connect to the rest of the world through alternate connection pathway option. He said that will play a strategic most probably the important ICT hub in the region.

"This is a momentous occasion for Vanuatu as the first step towards assuring that we establish a strong foothold in attracting foreign ICT data center business,'' he said.

Fletcher also pointed out the side benefits of the project saying through the project, for the first time Vanuatu is now connecting to the outside world through a local company.

"The money that was heading out to pay for these foreign satellite providers is now funneled back into the economy and the Vanuatu National Provident Fund has made a strategic investment here and members are obviously going to benefit from that," he said.

The company has also assured stakeholders and future service customer that it will complete the electronic path or dry path of the project by the end of December and the facility will be launched around January 15.

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