Details Emerge On New Billion-Dollar Undersea Cable Project

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The Pacific Connect Initiative will create new fiber links between Hawaii and other Pacific regions.

Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke says a new $1 billion trans-Pacific fiber optic cable project is essential to keep Hawaii connected to the rest of the world at a time when two of the state’s three existing trans-Pacific fiber cable links are nearing the end of their operational lives .

“Just how we need multiple roads to get in and out of different areas, we need these pathways to ensure that everyone can get online, stay online and thrive,” Luke said at a press conference Tuesday.

Google on April 10 announced its plans for the Taihei cable directly linking Hawaii to Japan, and also announced new plans to include Hawaii in its Tabua project linking the United States to Australia to Fiji. The Tabua extension will add an entirely new undersea link between Hawaii and the rest of the US

Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke praised Google’s plans for new undersea fiber optic cable links between Hawaii, the US mainland, and Japan as part of a larger $1 billion Google Pacific Connect initiative by the company. (Screenshot/2024)

“This will ensure that thousands of our families, businesses, institutions that depend on reliable, high-speed internet will not get left behind,” Luke told an audience at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox in Kakaako. Luke is leading the state’s Connect Kākou initiative to expand high-speed internet access in Hawaii.

Benji Robinson, director of Asia Pacific network planning and acquisition for Google, said the project means “Hawaii now becomes a key digital hub in the Pacific.”

“Submarine cables are the backbone of the internet. Human connectivity today depends on them more than any other kind of infrastructure, and you should be proud that Hawaii is now a center of that connectivity,” Robinson said.

The new cables, parts of which could be completed as early as 2026, will also provide new links to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

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A major benefit of the new cable project is increasing redundancy in Hawaii’s connections to the rest of the world to guard against system failures if cables are damaged or disabled.

“We know bad days will happen,” Robinson said. “Hurricanes and typhoons cause power outages, and that can take down the internet. “We can use technology to rapidly recover and reroute and restore services when these events occur.”

As important as the new cable will be, Robinson said in most places it will be roughly the size of a garden hose.

Apart from the Google project, Hawaii is about to receive an unprecedented injection of more than $320 million in federal funds to expand broadband access and provide related support over the next five years.

That money will be used to improve connectivity and expand broadband access on Hawaiian homelands and in other rural parts of the state. State projects that are in the works include plans to develop new submarine fiber cables between the islands.

Public information sessions for the Connect Kakou initiative are continuing across the islands. Updates and information about those sessions is available at ConnectKakou.org.

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