The new submarine cable will link Samoa (with onward connections via Tui-Samoa and the Southern Cross cable) and French Polynesia (with onward connections to Honotua Cable), with branches to Niue and the Cook Islands (Rarotonga and Aitutaki), enabling two primary gateways to the global internet for the country.
A recent approach was made from proponents of the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority (ASTCA) to the Cook Islands, seeking support to consider a new branch cable from American Samoa to the Manatua Cable (including a branching unit on the Manatua Cable) which would enable a third gateway to the global internet via American Samoa’s connection to the Hawaiki cable. A formal offer from ASTCA with pricing details has not been submitted for consideration however. Government considers that there may be benefits for this third indirect connection, but the full cost implications remain unclear and such a change in the plans would be likely to create a new level of complexity and add significant delays to the planned completion of the project.
Given this, government does not consider a third indirect connection via American Samoa will offer a substantially better deal, as being claimed by some of the proponents for this new connection.
There are alternatives available to ASTCA to connect to the Manatua Cable that may be utilised in future by the Cook Islands without impacting on the existing Manatua Cable plans.
These include potential connections from Samoa to American Samoa (ASTCA/Hawaiki) via the Samoa-American Samoa Cable or an additional branch on the Tui-Samoa Cable.
Also, the concerns raised by the Chamber of Commerce on this proposal and the Manatua Cable are being considered carefully and the government looks to further discussion on those issues. The four countries of the Manatua Consortium entered into an international treaty in April 2017.
The project has been developed in partnership with all four governments, each contributing to the procurement of the cable’s main trunk.
An international competitive bid was opened in February 2018 and Tyco Electronics Subsea Communications was awarded the supply contract.
The project costs to the Cook Islands are funded by the Cook Islands government through a loan from the Asian Development Bank and New Zealand Government grant funding.