Belau Submarine Cable Corporation is contemplating getting a second fiber optic submarine cable connection to Palau.
“We need redundancy and security. We saw what happened to Saipan and recently to Tonga when their cables were cut,” stated Robin Russell, Chief Executive Office of BSCC.
“We initially looked at satellite pooling as an idea for redundancy and security. This means that the two telecom providers in Palau as well as from countries in the region will obtain satellite capacity together and share them as back up but we have given up that plan,’ added Russell.
Currently Palau operates on average at 3.5gigabit per second whereas the legacy system or satellite capacity that we used before runs at 500megabits per second. This means that we currently operates at almost 10x the speed of what we used to have. Should there be any cut off of the cable, Palau will be down to 15% capacity and this barely covers essential government services.
“Of course, capacity will be rationed and distributed but it will barely cover basic services such as hospitals, schools, banks and so on,” expressed Russell.
According to Russell, the new cable will not add additional cost to the market. The cost of maintaining satellite capacity as backup right now for existing providers is around $2 million a year and is enough to pay for new cable project.
“Basically, this is money that will be spent anyway so getting a new cable as backup at that price will only enable Palau to get more capacity at the same price. Maybe with this, we can be able to offer up to 30Gb capacity to homes,” added Russell.
BSCC has commenced talks with a cable consortium connecting Singapore to US west coast and according to Russell, the cable will run about same distance as cable Palau is using now at about 207 kilometers away with branching unit to Palau.
The discussion is still on-going and the challenge is in finding a flexible financing plan. “BSCC is operating successfully and can take on this cost but the issue is in the flexibility of financing,” said Russell.
According to BSCC CEO, this is no longer just a backup plan. Getting a second cable economically makes sense. Some of the benefits include, getting lower IP transit cost because transit costs in Singapore and US west coast are much lower than IP transit cost out of Guam.
Furthermore, it brings in new economic opportunities that are not possible now with only one cable connectivity, such as business registries, financial services, data storage and others.
“Second cable not only improves connectivity for Palau but is necessary for the resilience of the national economy,” asserted Russell on the plan for new submarine cable. (By L.N. Reklai)