Sat. Apr 11th, 2020

Palau seeks another ADB loan for second submarine cable

Palau is seeking another loan to bring a second submarine cable to the country, President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. stated in his State of the Republic Address yesterday, April 25.

The second submarine cable will provide Palau with backup connectivity options in case of a malfunction.

“Recent examples in Tonga, Saipan, and the RMI, where the cut signal eliminated internet and telephone services for extended periods of time, have demonstrated the importance of continuous telecommunications services,” he said in his address.

Remengesau said in order to expand and enhance the infrastructure, his administration look to other creative financing opportunities with regional and international partners.

He said Palau is in discussion with Asian Development Bank to provide the loan.

Remengesau noted the cost of the second cable will be about the same as the current cost to back up the system with satellite services, which is approximately $2 million per year.

“This will provide our system with redundancy, meaning that if one cable is cut, the second cable continues to bring its signal to our island,” Remengesau said.

Currently, Palau operates on average at 3.5gigabit per second while the legacy system or satellite capacity that was previously used, runs at 500megabits per second, according to Belau Submarine Cable Corporation (BSCC).

BSCC has commenced talks with a cable consortium connecting Singapore to US west coast and when funding is approved, the cable will run about the same distance as cable Palau is using now at about 207 kilometers away with branching unit.

Minister of Finance Elbuchel Sadang said the loan proposal would be further discussed with the ADB President at a meeting in Fiji next week.

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the ADB will held in Nadi, Fiji from May 1 to May 5.

Sadang said the second cable would cost at least $25 million.

In 2017 through an ADB loan, Palau’s first high-speed broadband internet connection went live.

Before the cable. Palau was utilizing satellite links for internet connectivity.  (By Bernadette H. Carreon)