The Solomon Islands has reached a deal with Australia to help develop telecommunication technology in the country. Only about one-sixth of the country’s 660,000 people are currently connected to the Internet, with most of that population concentrated in the Solomon Islands’ urban areas and relying on satellite connections to use it. The Solomon Islands tech deal with Australia will allow the country to connect to outside servers and develop telecommunication connections within. Australia had also previously helped the Solomon Islands quell civil unrest between various indigenous militias between 2003 to 2017.
The Giant Undersea Cable Project
The Australian communications company Vocus is in charge of the construction of a major underwater cable known as the Coral Sea Cable System. Australia granted it in 2017 with a grant of $137 million, and Australia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea agreed to the deal to build the cable in 2018. The Coral Sea Cable System is a 4,700 km (2920 mi) underwater cable that will link Sydney to Port Moresby and Honiara, with the latter also connecting to Solomon Islands Domestic Network linking the archipelago. The cable will transfer over 40 TB of data to all three ports in the network, which would allow for 300,000 new jobs and growth of $5 billion in GDP for Pacific countries such as the Solomon Islands by 2040. As noted previously, only a small percentage of the population that uses the Internet use satellite to connect to it. As such, the underwater cable should grant the island nation more reliable and stable connections in part for the Solomon Islands tech deal which has helped to develop telecommunication technology significantly.
Since making the deal official, the project has made much progress in building its undersea cable network. The project installed landing sites at Port Moresby and Honiara in July 2019, symbolized by a golden buoy marking the occasion. In August 2019, it installed the landing site in Sydney and the final splice in September 2019. The Solomon Islands Domestic Network planned to finish in time for the December 2019 activation. Once complete, the Solomon Islands, alongside neighboring Papua New Guinea, can connect to a more reliable broadband connection and reliable Internet access.
Before the Solomon Islands tech deal with Australia, the Solomon Islands’ fisheries brokered a deal with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for training tech. Beginning in May 2018, the WWF provided funds for new tech such as tablets that allow for training of observers to monitor and observe fishing levels in the Solomon Islands and currently has 85 percent of electronic reporting by satellite commutation with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR). This efficient approach also lets observers electronically report between fishing boats out at sea and stations back on land. While the deal occurred before the Coral Sea Cable system deal, the e-reporting will benefit greatly from the system implementation upon its completion in 2019.
The Solomon Islands tech deal with Australia will build the internal infrastructure and bolster the Internet connection in the country by connecting the Solomon Islands with not only neighboring Papua New Guinea and Australia but the archipelago as well. The project also will bolster existing tech programs with improved infrastructure once completed. The project should complete by the end of 2019. Continuing to develop telecommunication technology is important for the global population.
– Henry Elliott