Google, together with Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH), APTelecom, and Telstra, is to build two new subsea cables connecting Guam, Fiji and French Polynesia to increase digital connectivity in the central Pacific.
The two cables – Bulikula and Halaihai – will connect Guam and Fiji, and Guam and French Polynesia, respectively.
"Once operational, Bulikula and Halaihai will join Guam's existing subsea cable portfolio – which includes Apricot, Echo, and Taiwan-Philippines-US – accelerating the island's position as a growing gateway for international connectivity," Brian Quigley, vice president for global network infrastructure at Global Cloud, wrote in a blog post.
The new cables will form part of the South Pacific Connect Initiative announced in October, which aims to create a ring between Guam, French Polynesia and Fiji. This ring will include pre-positioned branching units that will allow other countries and territories of Oceania to take advantage of the reliability and resilience resulting from the initiative.
The initiative originally entailed the construction of two transpacific subsea cables for the South Pacific connecting Fiji and French Polynesia to the US and Australia. One cable, dubbed "Honomoana," will connect the US and Australia to French Polynesia. The second cable, ''Tabua,'' will link the US and Australia to Fiji.
"The Government of Guam has long prioritized bridging the digital divide, with key programs like its five-year action plan to expand Internet access to more Guam residents and commitment to strengthening the island's telecommunications infrastructure,'' said Quigley.
Bridging the digital divide
Government officials from Guam and Fiji expressed optimism at the announcement of the two additional transpacific subsea cables.
"Beyond bridging the digital divide in our local community, this is Guam’s contribution – enabling new digital infrastructure such as subsea cables – to create and support connectivity between the northern and southern Pacific islands," said Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. "Our economic futures are all dependent on digital technology, and we welcome the Halaihai and the Bulikula subsea cables to uplift our people together."
"The Bulikula and Halaihai subsea cables will underpin the Pacific Peoples digital interconnectedness and lead the way for economic transformation through digital connectivity," said Fiji Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Communication Manoa Kamikamica.
Meanwhile, in a press statement, Telstra said it will own and operate a fiber pair on the core trunk on the Bulikula cable connecting Guam and Fiji.
"The next step will be partnering with other carriers and governments to assist in building and operating branches to the Pacific islands. These branches will power access to vital digital services across the region and will improve network performance, redundancy and reliability," said Roary Stasko, CEO of Telstra International.
Research firm Analysys Mason has predicted that Google's network investments in Asia-Pacific are expected to support 3.5 million additional jobs by 2026 and generate about US$627 billion in GDP between 2022 and 2026.