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Manatua cable shifts focus to landing stations

Thursday February 20, 2020 Written by Published in Technology
The Manatua cable at Rutaki beach in Arorangi. 20021921 The Manatua cable at Rutaki beach in Arorangi. 20021921

Manatua cable is set to be a trans-Polynesian information superhighway, connecting more Pacific islands than ever before. 

 

The cable lay operation to enable faster and potentially cheaper internet to the Cook Islands and three other Pacific island countries has successfully concluded.

The Manatua – One Polynesia Cable laid 3600km cable on the seabed of the South Pacific last month in an operation that lasted more than 50 days and defied two regional cyclones.

Cable Ship SubCom Reliance’s 65 strong team worked night and day – at times more than 100 people on land and at sea, including many local contractors, to bring each cable landing ashore.

The cable lay started in November last year in Apia, Samoa with further cable landings in Niue, Rarotonga and Aitutaki, and Bora Bora and Tahiti in French Polynesia.

It is the first submarine cable to connect Niue and also the Cook Islands.

The new optical fibre submarine cable now spans the South Pacific and will transform speed, capacity, resilience and affordability.

Manatua Consortium vice-chair and chief executive officer of Avaroa Cable Ltd, Dr Ranulf Scarbrough said work is now underway to complete the six landing stations, two of which are in the Cook Islands. 

“These stations house the telecommunications transmission equipment which will send and receive the digital data signals over the cable.”

Each of the cable landing stations also include stand-by power equipment (batteries and generators) and systems to manage, monitor and secure the cable network and in the Tahiti and Samoa landing stations, equipment to power the 32 undersea amplifiers in the cable.

Once complete, the entire system will be commissioned and tested by the supplier, then handed over to the Manatua Consortium to undertake acceptance testing.

Dr Ranulf Scarbrough said the entire process is focused on ensuring the cable network is delivered exactly according to the specification.

Testing will be conducted at each of the six cable landing stations, the completion of these tests is scheduled for May this year

It is expected to take until June for the cable to be integrated into retail telecommunications products for sale to customers in the four consortium countries – French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Niue and Samoa.

In the Cook Islands, the cable will be operated by Avaroa Cable Ltd. 

Scarbrough said the company will not sell services directly to retail customers but instead, will offer wholesale services over the cable to licensed downstream retail telecommunications operators.

“We now have the firm foundations in place for the Manatua network and can look forward to making the cable live for service in just a few months’ time, realising our original vision of a trans-Polynesian information superhighway.”

Manatua was initiated in April 2017, once operational, the cable is designed to provide service for at least 25 years.