American Samoa's link to Hawaiki's 15,000 km subsea fiber optic cable is on its way (Part 1)

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Hawaiki's 15,000 km subsea cable is now past its halfway point in its installation. It is expected to land in American Samoa in March and be operational in June of this year.

Photo Credit: 
Hawaiki marketing materials & Roy J.D. Hall III

Auckland, New Zealand - This is intended to be Part 1 in a series of articles on the changes coming to American Samoa because of Hawaiki's subsea cable. To say that it has been a long 6 years since we first heard rumors of a new subsea cable project in our little corner of the South Pacific. At the time that we heard the first rumors we were skeptical. I was working for the American Samoa Telecommunication Authority (ASTCA) at the time and we were reviewing a proposal from O3b Networks at the time that the rumor was first voiced in a meeting between myself, our in-house counsel and then CEO Aleki Sene Sr. It wasn't until a couple months later that we learned the name of the new proposed project, Hawaiki. Someone had been kind enough to drop an information packet off at our offices in Fagatogo.

I was engaged in the negotiations with O3b Networks when we received the packet, so Mr. Sene decided to hand me the Hawaiki materials as well. Again, we were skeptical but we knew  that the increased satellite capacity from O3b Networks was only going to provide a bridge and that demand growth for capacity was going to grow exponentially, eventually leading to American Samoa acquiring a cable, and I was tasked with opening and maintaining communications with Hawaiki. To be truthful the discussions were fairly light at the time, maybe an exchange of emails every couple of months until 2013.

In 2013 ASTCA underwent some management changes, some reorganization, and it was a tough year for me professionally. Thankfully we had closed the deal with O3b in December 2012, so those negotiations were over, but even though most of my special projects were handed to others, nobody seemed to know that I was in charge of the Hawaiki communications, and so we continued to negotiate generating several proposals for management that was ultimately too busy settling in to really read my summaries. Eventually one of those negotiated proposals would become the foundation for the deal that would be signed and then later amended.

What a lot of people won't know is that the American Samoa Internet Hub concept was always part of the deal with Hawaiki. This was endorsed by the former CEO, Mr. Aleki Sene Sr., and again by former CEO William Emmsley, and again by former CEO Alex Sene Jr., as well as both previous boards of directors. It was originally intended that Independent Samoa would be the first "hub" customer, but uncertainty on ASTCA's ability to deliver Hawaiki with uncertain political support at the time. American Samoa will be connected to the Hawaiki's main subsea section via a ROADM.

"A reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM) is a device that can add, block, pass or redirect modulated infrared (IR) and visible light beams of various wavelengths in a fiber optic network. ROADMs are used in systems that employ wavelength division multiplexing." (Techtarget 2007)

As sales of the capacity increase, hub or no hub, the ability is there for Hawaiki to increase the number of 100 Gbps wavelengths serving the American Samoa spur. Initially, American Samoa will be working hard to sell 10 Gbps of capacity, but in five years and ten years the demand growth for capacity should easily fill several 10 Gbps blocks of capacity. If the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Samoa decide to connect to Hawaiki via American Samoa that estimate goes up by one order of magnitude. French Polynesia is poised for rapid growth in bandwidth demand. In 20 years the capacity demand on the spur should necessitate multiple 100 Gbps waves. 

On my very last day on the job at ASTCA, in March 2016, I received a congratulatory message from Hawaiki noting that the contracts had been executed. A very perfect way to end my six year career at ASTCA.

 

 

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