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New Connection Will Bring Faster Internet to the North

New Connection Will Bring Faster Internet to the North
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama inspectiing the new station with staff members from Fiji International Telecommunications Limited (FINTEL) at the official opening of the Savusavu Cable Landing Station on September 8, 2018. Photo: Nacanieli Tuilevuka
September 09
12:39 2018

Ninety-five per cent of Fijians can now access fast and durable internet after Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday opened the Savusavu cable landing station in the Northern Division.

The Savusavu cable system connects Fiji to the Tui-Samoa undersea cable, providing a strong fibre optic link between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

The cable links Samoa, Wallis and Futuna and Vanua Levu with the international Southern Cross Cable connection in Vatuwaqa, Suva.

Connecting with Southern Cross is significant, given that it provides direct links with Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

It will mean users in the Northern Division will have access to faster and smoother internet connections.

The development also coincides with heavy investments and rapid infrastructure growth on Vanua Levu.

The Savusavu cable landing station project was initiated out of a turnkey contract signed between the Samoa Submarine Cable Company Limited (SSCC) and Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks to roll out the 1,470 kilometres submarine cable system.

It will be managed by Fiji International Telecommunications Limited (FINTEL), which is soon set to merge with Telecom Fiji Limited (TFL).

The link will provide an advanced broadband highway, which experts say will drive social and economic growth.

Mr Bainimarama said the Government initiative is expected to be a big boost to the local economy, providing more jobs and opportunities in the information communication technology (ICT) sector.

He said the cable also brings about greater telecommunications security between the two main islands, Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.

“This sort of development takes years of careful planning to deliver,” the Prime Minister said.

“It has taken long-term vision, bold initiative and considerable economic means to make a reality.

“Luckily, those are the hallmarks of my Government’s leadership, and that is how this $16 million investment has been made possible.”

The Tui-Samoa cable will deliver up to eight terabits per second (Tbit/s) capacity using 100 gigabitss per second transmission technologies.

“Some early cost estimates put this project at well over $20m – but we achieved serious cost savings by carefully evaluating similar projects and learning from past experiences,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“This cable project is a direct link to the Southern Cross Cable – a massive trans-Pacific telecommunications network that has a landing point in Vatuwaqa on Viti Levu.

“This landing station is the connection point for a massive underwater fibre optic cable that stretches from where we are standing right now, 270 kilometres across the sea to Viti Levu.

“There’s been nothing like this ever built in Fiji before, and this is only the latest in a string of landmark ICT infrastructure projects we’ve delivered across the country.”

Government allocated close to $40m for the development of the ICT sector in the 2018/2019 National Budget.

“This is only one small part of this development, so make no mistake: this project is as grand, as important and as ground-breaking as any bridge, any stretch of roadway, or any jetty in the country and it is certainly far more sophisticated,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He also pointed to competition in Fiji’s ICT sector as key part of the development plans, saying it had driven down prices and improved the quality of services on offer.

“Our investment has given us the ability to make high-quality digital television – through the Walesi platform, available nationwide.

“It’s allowed us to roll-out free Wi-Fi hotspots on all Fiji National University campuses and in public parks across the country.

“It’s allowed us to begin rolling out online Government services through the DigitalFiji initiative and we have some more very exciting announcements in the pipeline for digitalFiji later this month.”

Not just about social media

Mr Bainimarama said the better and more reliable service means a whole lot more than being able to check social media.

“Up until today, data has been transmitted from Viti Levu to Vanua Levu through microwave technology,” he said.

“Microwave technology works well over land, but is less efficient over large stretches of ocean.

“So while we’ve been able to provide data and online connection to Vanua Levu, it’s been at lower speeds and lower reliability; but all of that change today.

“This new cable project will increase connectivity speeds on Vanua Levu by fifty times, from two gigabits to 100 gigabits per second across the island.

“That is on par with anything you’ll find on Viti Levu and that will mean faster downloads, faster load times for web pages and higher-quality phone calls.

Benefit for several sectors

Mr Bainimarama said he was optimistic several sectors would benefit from the new infrastructure, including agriculture, education and health.

“It means lower costs of doing business and more business opportunities in the ICT sector on Vanua Levu,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“It will bring and it will create a vital link of reliable communication for those students and teachers in the most remote parts of the North.

“In fact, we’re also planning to rollout a range of educational programming across the Walesi platform.”

Mr Bainimarama said the secure link would also be crucial during natural disasters.

“Anyone who has ever managed a national disaster response can tell you: fast and reliable communication is absolutely critical,” he said.

Natural disaster benefit

“With this rock-solid submarine connection in place, our ability to maintain communications during serious national disasters has been taken to an entirely new level.

“It’s a far more resilient technology overall, and when cyclones do strike, this new cable will allow us to get messages to our people in need and assure them help is on the way.

“These faster speeds will be steadily brought throughout Vanua Levu over the next two weeks, as major mobile carriers like TFL, Vodafone Fiji, and Digicel, become linked with the new cable system.”

FINTEL chief executive officer George Samisoni said this development will give the country faster and easier access to reliable information.

“Through this cable, telecommunications access will be much faster through any of our telecommunications service providers,” Mr Samisoni said.

Vodafone Fiji chief operating officer Ronald Prasad said Fijians in North would now be able to enjoy the same standard of ICT access and services available in Viti Levu.

“There are massive amount of development happening in the North in various sectors,” Mr Prasad said.

“This comes after FINTEL successfully negotiated for the Samoa to Fiji subsea cable Tui-Samoa to have a branch into Savusavu.

“The main purpose is the Government’s vision of ICT access for all Fijians including broadband access and cheaper costs.

“The Tui Samoa cable system contractors are Alcatel Submarine Networks. They are the same contractors that built the Southern Cross Cable Network which links Fiji with the world.”

Feedback:  nacanieli.tuilevuka@fijisun.com.fj

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