Undersea Fiber Network to Deliver 100-Gigabit-Per-Second Broadband Speeds to Hawaii

The 9,000-mile submarine fiber cable system will connect Indonesia, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and California to help meet the exponential growth in demand for internet service.

by Kathryn Mykleseth, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser / August 8, 2017
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(TNS) -- This month web, data and voice traffic will begin flowing through a new $250 million undersea fiber cable connecting Hawaii, the U.S. mainland and Asia.

The new cable has the capacity to stream 4 million high-definition movies simultaneously, according to Hawaiian Telcom, co-owner and operator of the system with six other companies.

“Trans-Pacific cables have been providing telecommunication services to Hawaii for over 50 years,” said Daniel Masutomi, director of subsea engineering and network optimization at Hawaiian Telcom. “However, the majority of these cables have been retired and the few active remaining cables are close to retirement or have maxed out their capacity.”

The 9,000-mile submarine fiber cable system will connect Indonesia, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and California to help meet the exponential growth in demand for internet service. The seven companies formed the Southeast Asia-United States consortium (SEA-US) to establish the cable.

UNDERSEA CABLE

Cost: $250 million

Years to build: Three

Capacity: Stream 4 million high-definition movies simultaneously; download roughly 4,000 DVDs in one second; download the entire printed library of the U.S. Library of Congress in half a second.

The cable connects to Oahu at Makaha. The Makaha Cable Landing Station was built in February. The cable was pulled to the landing station in April after a three-year process of designing and engineering the system, building landing stations and laying the undersea cable.

Two trans-oceanic cable- laying ships met in Hawaii, one from Guam and one from California, after traveling across the Pacific positioning the cable on the ocean floor. Hawaiian Telcom said the companies surveyed in advance where the cable would be placed — the routes the ships took were designed so the cable bypasses congested, earthquake-prone areas.

The cable is expected to have a minimum of 25 years of commercial life, Hawaiian Telcom said. It can withstand strong ocean currents, ocean storms and harsh corrosive salt environments, Masutomi said.

The SEA-US cable will deliver a 20-terabit-per-second capacity, using 100-gigabit-­per-second technology. With 20 Tbps, an internet user can download roughly 4,000 DVDs in one second, or the entire printed library of the U.S. Library of Congress in half a second, according to Hawaiian Telcom.

“We’re proud to be part of this significant achievement for Hawaii as SEA-US is the most technologically advanced trans-Pacific cable system that will meet the growing broadband demands between the U.S. and Asia,” said Scott Barber, Hawaiian Telcom president and CEO. “This landmark cable system ensures Hawaiian Telcom has the capacity to cost-effectively support bandwidth requirements of cloud, streaming video, internet of things, and new applications that spur innovation and economic growth for Hawaii’s residents and businesses.”

The system will be owned and operated by Hawaiian Telcom; Manila-based Globe Telecom; Tamuning, Guam-based GTA; Los Angeles-­based GTI; San Francisco- based RTI; Jakarta, Indonesia-based Telin; and Los Angeles-based Telkom USA.

Hawaiian Telcom said the company decided to invest in the new system to make sure Hawaii’s access to the internet was not interrupted as existing submarine cables near the end of their lives. The company said a 2013 study from the University of Hawaii and Johns Hopkins University showed some of the islands’ existing cables were expected to reach end-of-life in the mid-2020s.

The Honolulu-based telecommunications company invested $25 million in the project.

Gov. David Ige said, in a prepared statement, that the cable provides critical infrastructure for the state “that effectively ensures our economic vitality today and into the future.”

©2017 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.