Member log in

Hawaiki's hazy Pacific cable plan gets hazier

UPDATE Sept 7: Many in the telecommunications industry welcomed a new Pacific cable plan that went public yesterday.

"We are very keen to see the project get off the ground. International connectivity is vital to our economic future," Telecommunications Users Association head Paul Brislen told NBR.

But for Hawaiki Cable boosters, their was little concrete news.

And the picture only got fuzzier after Hawaiki sales director Ludovic Hutier got in touch with NBR last night.

"Building such a system is an exciting and ambitious challenge for our team members and partners," Mr Hutier said

"At this stage of the project, our focus is to finalise the funding plan and obtain all necessary approvals to go ahead."

He understood people wanted more detail, but said, "We believe it is too early to communicate in details on the project."


Hawaiki goes public on fresh bid to build Pacific cable

Sept 6: Hawaiki Cable has publicly emerged as the latest player promising to build a trans-Pacific fibre optic cable after its plans were aired at last month's Polynesian Leaders' Group meeting.

The company wants to build a two fibre pairs submarine cable system spanning the Pacific with an 8 terabit per second capacity, according to its website. The cable will link Auckland, Sydney and Hawaii, with connections on Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Wallis, Samoa and American Samoa.

The new entrant enters the market after Pacific Fibre shut up shop when it failed to attract the $400 million it needed to fund the project, leaving Southern Cross Cable the only international cable network operating in New Zealand.

The project is headed by Remi Galasso, a former Alcatel Lucent executive who founded Noumea-based telecommunications infrastructure company Intelia in 2005. Intelia designs and implements wire and wireless networks and backhaul, and can design and build IT systems.

Not so new
Most recently, Mr Galasso has been associated with SPIN  (the South Pacific Islands Network), which also proposed to link New Caledonia to Auckland, Sydney and Hawaii.

Spin made a public push during 2009, and numbered the French government among its investors. But the cable was never laid, and SPIN quietly faded from the scene.

Hawaiki features a number of SPIN  veterans in its ranks.

"It's the same team from SPIN  but a different name," Pacific Fibre cofounder Mark Rushworth told NBR earlier today.  "The CEO has been trying to connect the Islands for the last seven years."

Hawiaki has told media it has signed one major (un-named) customer, that it has been talking major players in New Zealand such as TelstraClear and Vodafone.

Mr Rushworth said New Zealand still needs another cable to break the 50% Telecom-owned Southern Cross monopology.

But earlier, Pacific Fibre co-founder Rod Drury said no private cable would be built out of New Zealand following Pacific Fibre's funding failure.

The start-up got good support, with Vodafone, iiNet (the largest independent Australian ISP) and an un-named US telco signing anchor customer contracts.

"But those guys will be loath to put their hands up again," he told NBR.

2014 goal
Hawaiki's NZ area manager Kevin Millar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Millar is a former chief operating officer of TelstraClear. His current day job is general manager of services at Downer Engineering - where reception but through NBR's call which went to his voice mail.

Last month, the Cook Islands News reported Hawaiki was looking to complete the project by the end of 2014 at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, contingent on getting all countries on board by the end of this year. The company is also proposing links to the Cook Islands and Tahiti, the paper reported.

"We are very keen to see the project get off the ground. International connectivity is vital to our economic future," Telecommunications Users Association head Paul Brislen told NBR.

But right now, with scant detail, Mr Galasso's track record, and potential anchor customers burnt by Pacific Fibre's failue, it's not immediately clear how that will happen.

More by Chris Keall and Paul McBeth

Comments and questions

Drury and Rushworth, the masters of spin whining about someone else who may actually get this to work and in doing so connect up a number of Pacific Islands.

Fast Internet connections in the islands could really help with remote medical situations versus fast internet in NZ which allows more illegal downloads.

Do the moral math Rushworth..!

Ruthworth and Drury both said they are keen to see a second cable run out of NZ. Drury's opinion was that a privately funded effort would not get off the ground.

I think a big question is, do they have much more hope of securing additional government and NGO help this time around? The fact that they're planning to link the Pacific Islands does provide another angle. They might be very interested, but I can't imagine the PI governments themselves can provide much funding themselves, but other governments could, including ironically the Australian and New Zealand governments. And of course they did get something from the French government last time. This could provide an added boost to get them over the line which Pacific Fibre lacked.... I suspect SCC will also have to be more careful with their countercable spin as well.

Also they're only going to try and land in Haiwaii. I know some others have claimed the Californian landing point was one of the sticking points for Pacific Fibre. (And again, having the Pacific Islands involved could perhaps help them with landing issues.)

I don't know why we care what Rushworth and Drury think. They failed, but if they believe their own rhetoric and had any class, they would applaud anyone trying to succeed where they could not.

Well, I hope they don't drag the hoary old chestnut about redundancy as a reason why they need state assistance for their project, like Pacific Fibre did as they were shutting up shop.

If you see the Southern Cross Cables website you will see that they offer a loop, not a cable.

A loop with NZ landing points only a handful of kms apart. Yep, that's a robust topology.

Never mind that, anyway. The bigger problem is the single vendor and pricing which follows the doctrine of artificial scarcity.

Phil Stevens has a good point and I think people often underestimate the importance of redundancy until they need it, having communications majorly disrupted for several weeks is no fun I can tell you that. In the modern world, relying on satellite backups just doesn't cut it.

Having said that, I'm not sure how far apart not only the landing points but the planned Hawaiki Cable are supposed to be. Anyone living in or even having contact with those in quite a number of East or South East Asia after the 2006 Hengchun earthquake will probably know having many different cables doesn't help if they go through the same earthquake prone stretch....

Whereabouts were the Pacific Fibre and Hawaiki cable proposing to land? If in Auckland, then the redundancy isn't much greater if its a natural disaster in Auckland you are worried about.

Its not really a single vendor monopoly rorting us though is it? I understand that Southern Cross charge NZ traffic the same rates as it charges Oz, and Oz has multiple cables which provide the competitive pricing.

So whilst NZ doesn't have competition - it isn't paying over the odds.

For more discussion on redundancy, and a response from Southern Cross, see: Dick remembers the day the Southern Cross Cable lost service - and says it will fail again

Ahhh ... The appropriately named Mr Dick ...

All the best to them...however I might have more faith in their plan if the website ran properly. Sure, setting up a website isn't the same as funding and managing a fibre optic cable - its just that one of them is cheaper, easier, and less complicated to get right.

OH: Vodafone " the cost of international bandwidth is now cheaper than domestic"

Not much of a business model

I dont understand why they are so interested in trans tasman, the pacific islands and Southern cross

They want to lay cables to Pacific island, NZ, Australia, US? Who cares! Something is wrong.

The money is between Oceania and Asia. They should be looking at a a AJC replacement circuit or the SMW3 circtuit Perth to Singapore.

The lion's share of NZ's international data traffic is with the US. That's not going to change any time soon.

But you forgotten that Southern Cross cable is own by Telecom NZ, Telstra, Singtel-Optus and Verizon.

Who is this hazy company trying to achieve? Wake up and smell the coffee

What cant Mark wake up and find a decent job?

A perfect investment opportunity for China. And as a bonus they would get to provide all the cable, infustructure and monitoring...uh I mean connecting hardware.