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What SpaceX Starlink Project Means For Fiji

Fiji’s ‘telecommunications hub of the Pacific’ status is a natural choice for SpaceX. We have access to international via the Southern Cross Cable and the recently landed SX Next, and regionally, Fiji is directly connected to eight Pacific Island countries via subsea cables, the latest is New Caledonia.
17 May 2022 11:00
What SpaceX Starlink Project Means For Fiji
Amalgamated Telecom Holdings director, Kalpana Lal and the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, owns SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.), an American space manufacturer, a provider of space transportation services, and a communications corporation headquartered in Hawthorne, California.

In February, the company of the world’s richest man, Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink project was commissioned in Fiji.

Three months after the commissioning, Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) Limited, Director, Kalpana Lal has revealed some highlights of the project and what it means for Fiji.

The Starlink satellite system has inbuilt remote monitoring and control, which the SpaceX team are performing from their control-centre in the USA.

 

In Fiji, ATH, through FINTEL, a wholly-owned subsidiary, worked with SpaceX to commission the system to assist Tonga’s international telecommunications.

This was to respond to telecommunication challenges in Tonga when Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcano triggered a massive tsunami resulting in heavily damaging its telecommunications system.

“This is apart from providing the internet and Southern Cross cable bandwidth requirements within a required timeframe,” Ms Lal said

“FINTEL now manages the operation and maintenance of SpaceX/Starlink teleport at its Vatuwaqa Communications centre whilst SpaceX remotely monitors the system from the USA.”

 

Below is an excerpt interview with Ms Lal.
1. What does this mean for the Telecommunication industry?
Fiji and other Pacific Islands now have the latest satellite technology with 5G capabilities at their doorstep.

A satellite telecommunications medium that is economical, easy and fast to deploy for hard to reach areas and especially during natural disasters, as recently experienced by Tonga.

For telecom operators, SpaceX provides a real option in radio backhaul requirements, and in areas where radio towers are not economical and efficient to install.

 

2. How is ATH capitalising on this project with the Global tech giant?
FINTEL is supporting Starlink hosting base stations and internet connectivity.

Working on new innovations is always exciting and opens new opportunities for the Group and the Region.

It also proves the excellent work done by the Group, meeting the highest standards to get access to these opportunities that, in the end, enhance the value of the Group.

 

3. Is there a potential form of agreement with SpaceX?
Discussions for a long term agreement are in progress.

SpaceX is currently given a 6-month temporary emergency telecommunications license by the Government of Fiji.

The installation of another Starlink system is in discussion.

This was prompted by the Southern Cross Next cable commissioning in Savusavu this month, providing a second international subsea telecommunications access for Fiji and the Pacific islands.

 

4. How will Fiji benefit from it?
Fiji is the first in the Pacific Islands to deploy a Space X/Starlink teleport, apart from Australia and New Zealand.

Fiji telecom operators now have a satellite telecommunications medium option to utilise for reasons as mentioned in Q1.

 

5. Why Fiji?
Fiji’s ‘telecommunications hub of the Pacific’ status is a natural choice for SpaceX.

We have access to international via the Southern Cross Cable and the recently landed SX Next, and regionally, Fiji is directly connected to eight Pacific Island countries via subsea cables, the latest is New Caledonia.

SpaceX’s initial requirement was high bandwidth Internet access (Gigabits per sec) and cable capacity on the Southern Cross Cable.

Both were available from FINTEL for immediate implementation in the assistance to Tonga.

 

6. How far is ATH involved in this project?
ATH as the sole shareholder of FINTEL controls the company’s operational activity.

The existing project with Starlink could have the potential to evolve further into a commercial relationship that can benefit both parties.

The ATH Group operates in nine pacific markets and would be open to exploring further opportunities with Starlink.

This principle follows the ATH Group’s vision, to be the premier ICT carrier of choice, linking Fiji and the Pacific Islands to the world.

 

Feedback: laisa.kabulevu@fijisun.com.fj

 



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