The Trans Polynesian Information Superhighway is moving closer to deployment with more than 50% of the necessary fiber built.
Avaroa Cable Ltd., the state-owned enterprise which Cook Islands' government established to manage and operate the Manatua Cable project, confirmed at least 1,800 km (around 1,100 miles) of the 3,600 kilometers (about 2,200 miles) fiber optic cabling is manufactured. A facility in Portsmouth, N.H., is making the cable, as well as the six branches needed for landings across Polynesia, and the 32 repeaters. The process includes stringent quality controls to ensure error-free operation over the anticipated 25-year lifespan of the undersea cable.
What Will Lie Beneath
Completed sections of submarine cable. (Source: Avaroa Cable)
Once completed, the Manatua Cable will operate at up to 10 terabits per second -- comparable to downloading 300 HD movies each second.
The Manatua cable consortium was formed via a November 2018 treaty between the governments of the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and French Polynesia. Its goal is solely to build and operate the Manatua cable. Members include Avaroa Cable ( Cooks Islands), Niue Telecom, the Samoa Submarine Cable Co. and Office de Poste et Telecommunications (French Polynesia). The New Zealand Aid Programme and the Asian Development Bank each partly funded Cook Islands' financial burden for participating in the consortium.
By the end of next month, manufacturing and testing should be completed, Avaroa Cable said. The cables then head to the South Pacific via ship. Consortium members will begin laying the cable in Apia, Samoa, later this year, following completion of marine survey work that began in June.
"After many years of preparations, it's fantastic to see the cable being manufactured at last -- a clear sign that very soon Rarotonga and Aitutaki will be benefiting from world class, international fiber connections," said Ranulf Scarbrough, ACL CEO and vice chair of the Manatua Cable Consortium, in a statement.
While US workers are building cable, Cook Islanders have been preparing for the cable's arrival. Construction of two Cable Landing Stations -- on the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki -- are under way, and contracts are in pace for the stations and cable land routes, according to Avaroa Cable. The Trans Polynesian Information Superhighway is slated to go live in May 2020.
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