Bluesky Pacific Group has signed a turnkey contract with Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks to roll out a new submarine cable system spanning more than 9,700km across the Pacific.
Moana Cable Map
Named "Moana Cable", the system will link New Zealand and Hawaii via Samoa and American Samoa. Moana Cable will use the latest submarine cable technology, providing much-needed capacity and redundancy in the region to address increased traffic requirements as mobile broadband and the provision of fibre access to homes and businesses take center stage in the region.
With completion scheduled in 2018, the Moana Cable system will have two main segments: the first, based on two fiber pairs, will connect New Zealand to Hawaii over 8,000 km, serving Samoa and American Samoa and significantly enhancing route diversity for New Zealand; the second segment, based on one fiber pair, will link the Cook Islands to the Samoa hub over 1,700 km.
The Cook Islands segment will connect Rarotonga and Aitutaki to the Moana Cable system, providing world class international connectivity. Bluesky will work with the Government of the Cook Islands to develop the Cook Islands cable.
The Moana Cable is also designed to accommodate the connection of additional Pacific island nations such as Niue, Tokelau, and Tonga, which lie in close proximity to the New Zealand to Hawaii trunk, as well as French Polynesia to the East near the Cook Islands.
Adolfo Montenegro, Bluesky Pacific Group CEO, said: “We are committed to serving our customers best. Moana Cable is an important part of Bluesky’s vision of connecting our Pacific communities around the world. For the Pacific Islands, it is important to tap into a digital highway between the larger markets to gain the benefit of economies of scale. In this instance the digital highway is Moana Cable connecting New Zealand and USA. Cost effective and reliable telecommunications bring significant benefits to education, commercial, medical, and governmental activities and play a vital role in economic and social development.”
Bluesky Pacific Group, a subsidiary of Spanish multinational Amper S.A., has a strong track record as a submarine cable owner and operator with its ASH Cable connecting American Samoa to Hawaii and SAS Cable connecting Samoa to American Samoa. ASH Cable is part owned by the Government of American Samoa. Anchor customers of the Moana Cable include Bluesky Pacific Group companies and existing ASH Cable customers.
“Our investment in Moana Cable is in alignment with Amper’s strategy of growing our footprint in the Pacific and supporting Bluesky’s vision of connecting our pacific communities around the world. We anticipate our participation in Moana will be funded internally through existing free cash flow generated by Bluesky, said Amper CEO and Moana Cable Chairman, Jaime Espinosa de los Monteros.
Bluesky has also signed a memorandum of understanding with RTI Inc. based in San Francisco, for collaboration and interconnection with its SEA-US submarine cable linking Asia to Hawaii and to the West Coast of the United States. This technology partnership will enable the Moana Cable to provide unrivalled connectivity from New Zealand and the Pacific to the US and Asia.
The Moana Cable will be the first long-haul submarine cable in the Pacific islands region relying on the latest innovative 200 Gbit/s transmission technology, with ultimate capacity between Hawaii and New Zealand of 20 Terabits-per-second (Tb/s).
Under the terms of the contract, ASN will deploy its advanced submarine optical technology based on the innovative 1620 SOFTNODE and OADM branching units to maximize capacity and network flexibility. ASN will be responsible for the project on a turnkey basis, from system design to installation and commissioning, as well as marine operations (cable laying and maintenance).
The Bluesky Pacific Group is a majority owned subsidiary of Amper SA and a leading regional telecommunications provider in the Pacific, operating in Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands, and New Zealand. The Group includes American Samoa Hawaii Cable, LLC, which owns and operates ASH Cable, from American Samoa to Hawaii, and SAS Cable connecting Samoa to American Samoa. ASH Cable LLC holds FCC licenses for landing cable in Hawaii and American Samoa and also holds a Samoa Submarine Cable Landing license.
JRC ANALYSIS: This is the second cable announced by Bluesky in the last six months. Issue #32 of this report highlighted the proposal by the Samoan government through the Samoan Submarine Cable Company, which is part-owned by Bluesky, to construct a cable from Samoa to interconnect with the transpacific Southern Cross cable in Fiji for which the Asia Development Bank has now announced US$25M funding and the government expects to appoint a supplier by May 2016 (http://www.telecompaper.com, http://www.radionz.co.nz).
To build yet another international cable for the Samoan market seems like overkill. The island nation is already connected to Hawaii via the American Samoa-Hawaii (ASH) and Samoa-American Samoa (SAS) cables. The connection to Fiji would provide redundancy and keep suppliers of onward connectivity either from Hawaii or Fiji honest.
Bluesky Pacific is an ISP in Samoa and had recently established a subsidiary in the Cook Islands. Also, in 2015, Bluesky Pacific became a mobile virtual network operator in New Zealand using the Spark (formerly known as Telecom New Zealand) network "to serve the Samoan community in New Zealand".
This seems to be the motivation for building a cable out of New Zealand but Bluesky's addressable market cannot possibly justify investment in a 9,700 km transoceanic cable system. The reference to a MOU with RTI for interconnection with SEA-US in Hawaii is a positive piece in the puzzle but not enough to make this project feasible. The former head of Spark Telecom's Australian subsidiary AAPT, David Yuile, is a director of RTI.
The idea that this project, which would cost at least US$200M, can be funded from Bluesky's internal cash flow stretches credulity but perhaps the parent company, Amper, is prepared to put money where its mouth is to achieve its strategic objectives.
Julian Rawle, Author
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