Vanuatu chooses Alcatel-Lucent for undersea fiber-optic cable

Vanuatu’s Interchange Ltd. has signed an agreement with Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) to deploy the island’s first international submarine cable system. The link will connect Port Vila, Vanuatu, to Suva, Fiji, by the middle of 2012.

Vanuatu’s Interchange Ltd. has signed an agreement with Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) to deploy the island’s first international submarine cable system. The link will connect Port Vila, Vanuatu, to Suva, Fiji, by the middle of 2012.

Interchange will construct, own, and operate the 1230-km submarine cable system, which will link directly into the Southern Cross Cable between Sydney and Hawaii. The cable will enable Vanuatu businesses to connect to the USA, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

The cable initially will support 20 Gbps – more than 200X Vanuatu’s current capacity. The submarine cable system’s capacity can grow to 320 Gbps.

Interchange CEO Simon Fletcher said, “This submarine cable will open new growth opportunities for the local economy. Vanuatu’s current satellite connectivity is relatively expensive, with high latency, and is capacity constrained. Interchange believes telecommunications infrastructure, via submarine cable systems, is the most cost-effective and reliable means to bring high-bandwidth capacity and technologies to Vanuatu, facilitating growth in tourism and other industries.”

The private sector is expected to pick up most of the $30 million tab for the submarine cable project. However, project does have local government support. Vanuatu Post is a seed investor in Interchange, while the Vanuatu Government has committed to the pre-purchase of capacity.

Interchange also has secured an option with ASN for the extension of the system from Vanuatu to Noumea. This extension would enable connectivity for New Caledonia to Fiji as well as provide Vanuatu with diverse cable outlets.

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