As fibre optics will most probably never reach all Pacific islands, satellite systems provide an effective alternative method of access. Intelsat has enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the provision of international services to PICs for almost three decades. The region is mainly covered by the Intelsat series of satellite using C-band. There are three Intelsat satellites that cover the Pacific Island countries. PanAmSat 2 is the only alternative satellite but it covers only the western part of the region, mainly Australia and New Zealand. Around Fiji, 6m dishes are required. The situation was expected to change with the launch of the Orion 3 satellite in 1999, but this failed. However, Intelsat is re-positioning its satellites in the region and is now providing a Ku band service in the western part of the islands (Australia to Fiji) and in French Polynesia.
There are few submarine cables in the South Pacific region. They link Australia and New Zealand to the USA via Hawaii or they cross one side of the Pacific to the other without even landing in any PICs. They also link the American territories, but for military purposes. The amount of traffic passing through the existing links has made it difficult for small island countries to develop a business case to attract investors to invest in cables in the Pacific.
Although several cables including Southern Cross and PacRim transit the region, Fiji and Guam are presently the only island nations with a fibre cable landing.
Number of pages 13
Last updated 4 Feb 2014
Analyst: Paul Budde
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