BY GEORGINA KEKEA
WORK on the construction of a submarine cable from Vanuatu to Solomon Islands is currently underway. Interchange Limited, a private company based in Vanuatu is funding the ICN2 cable to connect Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Interchange Limited also owns and operates the ICN1 cable between Vanuatu and Fiji.
In a statement to Island Sun, Simon Fletcher, CEO of Interchange Limited says construction phase of their project has commenced and this cable should be brought into service by the end of 2019.
Mr Fletcher says the total project costs USD30million but there are plenty of good reasons why ICN2 is important for the region.
“Vanuatu is currently served by a single cable ‘ICN1’ and should ICN1 fail for any reason, then ICN2 shall provide backup solution for consumers in Vanuatu.
“ICN2 shall also act as a backup solution for the Australia to Solomons and PNG cable.”
Fletcher says it was only a few months ago that all internet traffic in and out of Sydney via the Southern Cross cable to USA suffered a major service outage for more than 12 hours due to a cable breakage in Sydney.
“In the future once ICN2 and the Coral Sea Cable are both completed, this traffic can be rerouted via Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.”
Meanwhile the Australian Government is aware of the announcement of the ICN2 undersea telecommunications cable, linking Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
A spokesperson from the Australian High Commission says development -friendly IT infrastructure in the region improves interconnectedness and the potential for economic growth.
“The new proposed cable would complement the undersea telecommunications cable linking Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Australia which is due for completion by end of 2019,” the spokesperson said.
At the same time Fletcher of Interchange Limited says ICN2 will also offer an alternate route path for Australian users connecting the USA.
Australia earlier has qualms on the undersea cable construction from Australia to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and to Solomon Islands but this time round accept Interchange Limited’s construction of undersea cable from Vanuatu to Solomon Islands.
Interchange Limited though based in Vanuatu, currently has a valid licence to operate in Solomon Islands.
“They’ve submitted their application for a licence to the Telecommunications Commission in Honiara in 2013 and since approved have kept and renewed their licence,” a spokesperson from Telecommunications Commission SI (TCSI) confirmed.
“This project is long overdue and ever since their application, they’ve continuously renewed their licence every year,” the spokesperson said.
When making formal announcement of this contract, Simon Fletcher says Interchange is committed to improved ICT infrastructure to communities they serve throughout the Melanesia region.
“The ICN2 cable truly supports our mission and is the first submarine cable to the Solomon Islands. With the planned future systems in the region, we feel confident they will be complementary and serve to build a redundant and reliable network. This should provide some confidence to regional investors and datacenter partners,” Fletcher said.
Island Sun understands that the relevant Government ministry overseeing ICT in Solomon Islands is still to be formally briefed on this new development.
Interchange Limited’s project on the undersea cable from Vanuatu to Solomon Islands is privately funded and different to the Australian government funded cable.
Both are anticipating completion by the end of 2019.