Australian-headquartered telecommunications company Vocus says a major cable project between the Solomon Islands and Sydney is on track to be ready for service by December 2019.
The 4,700km Coral Sea Cable System project, which is being supported by the Australian Government, is a 4,700km submarine cable system with 42 repeaters along its length linking Sydney to Port Moresby and Honiara. The project also comprises the Solomon Islands Domestic Network, which is a 730km submarine cable system connecting Honiara to Auki, Noro and Taro Islands.
The project will bring cheaper and more reliable broadband and general communications infrastructure for both PNG and the Solomon Islands, along with significant economic and development opportunities.
On Monday, Vocus said cable has now been installed at the landing sites in both countries.
“Together with our partners, we’re very proud of our role in building critical infrastructure for the people, businesses and communities of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands,” said Vocus.
Last Friday, Solomon Islands’ Deputy Prime Minister John Maneniaru, Acting Australian High Commissioner Sally-Anne Vincent and other senior representatives took a tour of the cable-laying ship, the Ile de Brehat. On Monday, a ceremony attended by the Solomon’s Prime Minister involving the symbolic handover of a ‘golden buoy’ was held to mark the beginning of work to lay the cable between Honiara and Sydney.
The Australian government is providing the lion’s share of the funding, with PNG and Solomon Islands Governments jointly contributing up to a third of the project’s costs. The Australian Government awarded Vocus a $136.6 million contract to build the project in June last year.
The timing of the project was important as Papua New Guinea’s existing undersea cable to Sydney was nearing the end of its service life. As for the Solomon Islands, it has been reliant on expensive and unreliable satellite communications.
“As a close neighbour and friend, Australia is committed to supporting Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to build their economies through sustainable development and resilient technologies, allowing e‑governance and the digital delivery of services,” said Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade last year when announcing the project.
Vocus is a specialist fibre network services provider that operates Australia’s second largest intercapital network. Vocus’s Australian fibre network is now over 21,000 km. Lightning Broadband acquires backhaul from Vocus and other leading tier-1 providers.