An undersea cable project connecting the Solomon Islands to Sydney, Australia that would improve internet access in the South Pacific island nation is reportedly facing some further problems.
The 4,000 kilometre-long Solomon Islands Submarine Cable System was originally to have been laid by a US-British firm. However, earlier this month, Chinese company Huawei Marine announced it had signed a contract with the Solomon Island Submarine Cable Company (SISCC) for the project.
Huawei said it will construct a cable with a total capacity of 2.5TB linking Sydney to Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, with a further domestic connection from Honiara to Auki and Noro.
“I believe the completion of this cable will solve problems we are facing now – insufficient bandwidth, high cost, and unstable services,” said the CEO of SISCC, Keir Preedy, at the time.
“It will provide high-quality telecommunication services to carriers in South Pacific region, and more importantly, it will deliver high-speed internet and telecommunication services in Solomon Islands.”
Huawei stated the project would be ready for service next year; perhaps an optimistic estimation given the recent turn of events.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier this week the project now faces an uncertain future due to the involvement of Huawei, a company that was excluded from working on Australia’s NBN on the advice of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop didn’t address the issue directly in related comments to Fairfax Media, but said the Australian Government still supports an undersea cable to improve internet access as it will generate jobs and growth in the island nation.
The Solomon Islands Submarine Cable Company (SISCC) says it is working closely with the Solomon Islands and Australian governments to clarify the situation regarding Huawei.
Internet connectivity in the Solomons has generally been spotty at best and non-existent in many places. In 2015, local internet service provider Our Telekom installed a new ground station for the O3b Network’s medium earth orbit (MEO) satellite, which improved things somewhat; but much of the population still doesn’t have internet access.
According to the Asian Development Bank, Solomon Islands covers about 28,000 square kilometres and around 85% of the population of 528,000 live in villages scattered over many islands consisting of just a few hundred people each.
An undersea cable project to improve internet access has been on the cards for a very long time, with a mention of Australia supporting such a project back in 2010.
While we have better internet here in Australia, it certainly varies from place to place and ISP to ISP. Test your internet speed with Lightning Broadband’s speed test application.