1 March 2010, Tahiti —— Honotua, a 3,107-mile (5,000-km) submarine fiber optic cable linking French Polynesia with the Hawaii, has officially landed on the Big Island. French Polynesia Vice President Edouard Fritch and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi were joined by other dignitaries from Tahiti and Hawaii Monday in celebrating the opening of a new chapter in relations between the two Polynesian destinations.
"The links between Tahiti and Hawaii stretch back further than recorded history," Hawaii 24/7 noted online. That "connection entered the 21st Century" Monday as the high-speed cable Honotua arrived on Ohaiula (Spencer Beach) in Kawaihae on the Big Island, Hawaii 24/7 and Pacific Business News reported.
The news reports emphasized that this is "the first Polynesian submarine cable linking the United States and Tahiti".
Tahiti's Vice President Fritch said, "The possibilities for scientific research, distance learning, cultural exchange and telemedicine are among the opportunities for this region as a result of this historic landing," Pacific Business News reported.
Honotua, Tahitian for "the link towards the open sea", symbolizes the shared past and best future between Tahiti and Hawaii, State Sen. Kalani English said during the ceremonies.
François Voirin, board chairman of the French Polynesia Office des Postes et Télécommunications (OPT), provided a more detailed translation of Honotua. "Hono translates to 'link' and Tua translates to 'backbone, horizon at sea,'" he said.
"Hawaiians and Tahitians have established links through voyaging canoes long before European explorers," Voirin continued. "Honotua reestablishes this connection, positioning both countries for improved communication technology entirely relevant for the information age."
Testing of the final cable connection began Tuesday, with Honotua due to begin "live operation" in June or July.
The five-year-old project with an overall 9.5 billion French Pacific franc (US$110.5m/€796m) cost entered the cable-laying stage in French Polynesia's Leeward Islands last November.
The project is being carried out by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, a specialist with similar cable-laying projects in other parts of the Pacific.
After the Alcatel-Lucent cable laying ship Île de Ré linked Bora Bora, Raiatea and Huahine with Tahiti's sister island of Moorea, the vessel brought Honotua to Tahiti's north coast Commune of Papenoo in December and a special OPT station.
The Île de Ré then began placing 2,808 miles (4,520 km) of cable from Papenoo to the Big Island of Hawaii. The cable's biggest depth is 19,500 feet (5,944 meters).
Honotua will increase the speed of transferring digital information from today's maximum Internet speed of 500 megabits per second to more than 20 gigabits per second, or 40 times faster.
Monday's cable landing was celebrated with a cultural ceremony and other festivities at the Puukohola Heiau National Historic Park and Spencer Beach, Hawaii 24/7 reported.
"During the ceremony (Mayor) Kenoi accepted a buoy named Kealakahiki (Hawaiian for 'the way to Tahiti') to mark the end of the cable project and the beginning of a new era."
The Hawaiian mayor said the cable is more than just infrastructure. It's a connection of culture and people, he said.
"The first ancestors of the Hawaiian people arrived from the South Pacific, more specifically from Tahiti," Kenoi said. "It is an honor for our island to welcome this cable, Honotua, a physical link with our cousins. One people, one community, one Pacific."
Honotua is just one element in the development of information technology via undersea cables throughout the South Pacific. Adding up the distances covered by the various cable projects—from Australia and New Zealand to Tahiti and Hawaii, and most of the islands along the way—produces a total of 8,298 miles (13,355 km).