Google is to deploy two new subsea cables connecting Fiji and French Polynesia to the United States and Australia.
The company this week announced two new transpacific subsea cables — Honomoana and Tabua — as part of its South Pacific Connect initiative to improve the reliability and resilience of digital connectivity in the region.
Honomoana, named after the Polynesian word for “link” (hono) and “ocean” (moana), will connect the United States and Australia to French Polynesia.
Tabua, named after a sacred Fijian whale’s tooth, will connect the United States and Australia to Fiji.
Cable capacities and deployment timelines weren't shared.
Cable landing stations are to be built in Fiji and French Polynesia, and connected via an interlink cable.
Google said the fiber ring will include pre-positioned branching units that will allow other countries and territories of Oceania to join in the future.
Partners in the project include Fiji International Telecommunications, Office of Posts and Telecommunications of French Polynesia (OPT FP), APTelecom, and Vocus Group.
"Fintel is excited to be supporting the South Pacific Connect initiative alongside the multinational technology company, Google. This will strengthen Fintel and Fiji's telecommunications hub status and provide the much-needed reliable and resilient connectivity between the people of the Pacific and the rest of the world," said Fiji International Telecommunications CEO George Samisoni.
Fiji is currently the landing point for six cables, landing at either Suva or Savusavu. Most connect the nation to other islands in the region, but Fiji is a landing point for both the South Cross and Southern Cross Next cables linking Australia and New Zealand to the US.
The OPT NC-owned Gondwana/Picot-2 cable from 2022 links Fjij to New Caledonia. Interchange’s ICN1 cable from 2014 links the island nation to Vanau. 2013’s Tonga cable – owned by Digicel, Tonga Comms Corporation, and the Tonga government – connects Fiji to Tonga. The Tui-Samoa cable, owned by the Samoa Submarine Cable Company and deployed in 2018, links Fiji to Samoa and Futuna.
Vocus CEO Ellie Sweeney added: “Vocus is delighted to be the partner of choice for Google to deliver the South Pacific Connect initiative, which will significantly uplift the capacity, reliability, and resilience of Australia’s international connectivity. The system will establish three diverse Australian landings along with dual cable paths to the US, substantially improving the resilience of Australia’s critical connections to the world,” said Vocus CEO Ellie Sweeney.
French Polynesia currently has four subsea cables – two international and two domestic. Three are owned by OPT FP; the Honotua cable from 2010 connects four of the nation’s western islands to Hawaii; the domestic Natitua from 2018 connects 11 islands to the east; and the new domestic Natitua Sud cable connects three islands to the south.
The Manatua cable, from 2020, links French Polynesia to the Cook Islands, Niue, and Samoa. It is a joint project between OPT, Avaroa Cable Ltd., Samoa Submarine Cable Company, and Telecom Niue.
“Since 2010, OPT has started to build its submarine cable network to allow access to the Internet for the French Polynesia population and reduce the digital divide for remote islands. OPT is proud to partner with Google to expand its network and expertise in this fantastic project for our region and communities,” said Jean-Francois Martin, CEO of OPT.
Eric Handa, CEO of APTelecom, added: “Increasing the reliability and resilience of digital connectivity in the Pacific is a fundamental objective of APTelecom, and collaborating with Google is a great example of how companies can work together to accelerate and deliver connectivity solutions that will change the world.
"The Government of Fiji is delighted to partner with Google in achieving this momentous milestone to bolster digital connectivity and resilience. Our shared vision is to pave the way for a more interconnected and fortified digital future not only for Fiji but also for the entire Pacific region and beyond," said Prime Minister of Fiji, Honorable Sitiveni Rabuka.
“The government of French Polynesia has chosen the digital economy as one of the four key sectors for economic and social development. We could not wish for a better partner than Google in this endeavor,” added President Moetai Brotherson of French Polynesia.