Second submarine fibre optic cable laid in Palau

Photo: Belau Submarine Cable Corporation

Belau Submarine Cable Corporation (BSCC) celebrated the next segment of the second submarine cable project laying from Ngardmau State port in Palau this week.

The Strider, a specialised cable-laying vessel, started the pre-shore laying early Monday morning. The submarine fibre optic cable connects from a base at Ngardmau port out seven kilometres into deep water where it is dropped awaiting the later hook up to the larger cable.

According to BSCC CEO Robin Russell, the next cable segment will be laid 100 kilometres out to a branching unit.  The Echo submarine cable project is expected to be completed by the 3rd quarter of 2023 and Palau’s cable is expected to connect by the 1st quarter of 2024.

The second cable will provide a direct connection with Singapore and the mainland United States and the connection rates will be cheaper than the current cable that connects to Guam. 

The acquisition of the second cable was to ensure redundancy and resiliency of the internet connection but because of potential savings, it may serve as the main connection for Palau once it is up and running.

The connection of the second fibre optic cable enables a range of new business opportunities that are not possible otherwise. “Data centres and fintech industries are some of the possibilities,” explained Rhinehart Silas, BSCC’s Commercial Manager.

The project was funded through a mix of grants and loans from Palau, Japan, Australia, and the United States.  Representatives from each of the partner countries attended the brief ceremony, Ambassador Richelle Turner from the Australian Embassy, Ambassador Karasawa of the Japan Embassy, Minister Charles Iyar of MPII – Palau, and a U.S Embassy representative. The Echo Cable System, a submarine fibre-optic network connecting Singapore to the west coast United States is a subsidiary of Facebook and Google.

Watch out for more stories on Pacific islands ICT in our upcoming issue of Islands Business.