Google announced plans for the Central Pacific Connect initiative, to build two new intra-Pacific cables — Bulikula and Halaihai —connecting Guam with Fuji and French Polynesia respectively. Google will collaborate Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) of Fiji, APTelecom, and Telstra on the Central Pacific Connect initiative to increase digital connectivity in the region.

The Bulikula cable system will connect Guam with Fiji. Bulikula is the Fijian word for “golden cowrie,” a rare shell found in the Pacific Ocean often worn by local chieftains as a badge of rank.

The Halaihai cable system will link Guam and French Polynesia. Halaihai is named after a type of vine that grows on beaches. The word is often used in the Chamorro expression, “tilifón halaihai,” which refers to information spread from person to person, whether face-to-face, by phone, or over the internet.

Google will collaborate with Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) of Fiji, APTelecom, and Telstra on the Central Pacific Connect initiative to increase digital connectivity in the region.

Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited (ATH) was incorporated as a public company in March 1998, as a vehicle through which the Fiji government's investments in the telecommunications sector was consolidated for the purpose of privatisation under its public sector reform programme. 

Telstra will be one of the key telecommunications providers of central Pacific Connect and will own and operate a fibre pair on the core trunk on the Bulikula cable connecting Guam and Fiji.

APTelecom was selected by Tuvalu Telecom Corporation (TTC) to prepare a feasibility study for the development of the Central Pacific Cable. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) granted $3 million for the feasibility study. And the study has been turned into Google's Central Pacific Connect initiative.

Prior to the Central Pacific Connect initiative, Google released the South Pacific Connect initiative in last October, to build two new transpacific subsea cables — Honomoana and Tabua —which will connect Fiji and French Polynesia to both the United States and Australia.

The Central Pacific Connect initiative will create a ring between Guam, French Polynesia and Fiji, building with the Bulikula and Halaihai cables and the interlink cable connecting French Polynesia and Fiji as part of the South Pacific Connect initiative . This ring will include pre-positioned branching units that will allow other countries and territories of Oceania to take advantage of the reliability and resilience resulting from the initiative.

Once operational, Bulikula and Halaihai will join Guam’s existing subsea cable portfolio — which includes ApricotEcho, and Taiwan-Philippines-U.S. — accelerating the island’s position as a growing gateway for international connectivity. The Government of Guam has long prioritized bridging the digital divide, with key programs like its five-year action plan to expand internet access to more Guam residents and commitment to strengthening the island’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Central Pacific Connect Initiative
CENTRAL PACIFIC CONNECT INITIATIVE, IMAGE COURTESY: GOOGLE

 

The announcement of the Central Pacific Connect initiative gives every indication for a well-connected Region aligned to the Pacific Leaders vision for 2050. The Bulikula and Halaihai subsea cables will underpin the Pacific Peoples digital interconnectedness and lead the way for economic transformation through digital connectivity. commented by Fiji Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Communications, Honourable Manoa Kamikamica.

The US and Australia have a strong history of supporting the region and will continue to work collaboratively toward future submarine cable connectivity for Pacific Island countries to facilitate access to global markets and the realization of regional connectivity goals.

Through the Central Pacific Connect initiative and the South Pacific Connect initiative, the US and Australia enhences their internet connectivity and geopolitic ties with the Pacific Islands.