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Hawaiki Cable: Month of June will probably be “Ready-For-Service” date

1 / 1 The Hawaiki cable. [Photo: RNZ / Jesse Chiang]

The vessel, CS Responder, laying the undersea fiber optical cable for Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP is scheduled to arrived in Pago Pago next month, with plans to still launch the new cable service in the territory in June this year.

Hawaiki will link Australia and New Zealand to the US mainland, as well as Hawaii and American Samoa, with options to expand to additional South Pacific islands.

American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority (ASTCA) signed an agreement with Hawaiki more than a year ago to bring the cable spur landing to the territory. Hawaiki had announced last year that it was to start the cable laying operations the second week of October 2017 and plans to install the American Samoa spur, which is already manufactured and loaded onto the cable ship, in the first quarter of 2018.

ASTCA project manager for Hawaiki, Ted Leiato said that plans are on track to bring the new undersea fiber optic cable to the American Samoa and that will result in faster Internet connectivity for the territory.

In providing an update on the Hawaiki cable, Leiato explained that the northern half of the cable is already laid from Pacific City, Oregon to Kapolei on Oahu island in Hawai’i, and up to near Tokelau. “That’s the first half of the cable,” he said in a Samoa News interview last Thursday.

For the southern half of the cable, laying operations have already begun with cable already laid from Coogee — a beachside suburb southeast of Sydney, Australia — to Mangawhai Heads, which is north of Auckland, New Zealand.

Leiato explained that after the cable is laid the crew goes back to conduct a final survey, checking on the cable that’s already laid. “And then they start the deep sea laying of the cable, that heads over towards us,” he said adding that the cable-laying vessel is now between New Zealand and American Samoa. 

“And the vessel will be here next month, April,” he said and noted that prior to the cable landing here, a team involved with the cable is expected to arrive sometime later this month, to put in the land cable. The team’s arrival coincides with the cable landing by the vessel.

After the cable lands here (which is at Fogagogo), Leiato said the team would start testing the cable and this would take about a period of one-month. “And then around June, is the Ready-For-Service or RFS date,” he said, referring to when the new cable is operational.

He also says that ASTCA has already installed the cable landing station equipment. He explained that an off island team was on island for about three to four weeks early this year conducting site inspection and tests. “So that’s completed. And two weeks ago they finished training nine ASTCA employees on the operation and maintenance of the cable landing equipment,” he notes.

ASTCA announced on Oct. 3, 2017 that it had signed with Hawaiki an amendment to their original agreement for the installation of a spur connecting American Samoa to the Hawaiki cable and the provision of international capacity to the US mainland.

One of the key outcomes of the agreement includes the provision of 200 Gigabits of Internet bandwidth — more than 150 times the capacity currently available in American Samoa — giving ASTCA access to a large volume of capacity at a very competitive cost.

Increased capacity was also echoed by Leiato, who explained that Hawaiki would bring  “200 times faster” Internet service than the current speed.

With faster Internet service, new opportunities happen for American Samoa such as Distance Learning and Telemedicine as well as future business opportunities such as call centers, he pointed out.

“You’re looking at vast opportunities for our people through the internet with Hawaiki,” he said.

“So at this point, the cable landing station is in place, the equipment is already installed, training of nine ASTCA personnel to maintain and operate is done,” he explained. “The next phase is land cable installation and that’s sometime this month. And then the cable-laying vessel comes in April and June is the RFS date.”

Speaking on behalf of the ASTCA team, Leiato said ASTCA thanks the public for their patience and expresses appreciation to the tremendous support from the governor, the administration, the Fono, and the community.

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said late last year that the Hawaiki project “will help to bridge the digital divide and allow American Samoa to truly participate in the digital economy, as well as taking advantage of e-health and e-education initiatives to improve opportunities for our people.”