NEC has announced that they have completed the Palau Spur cable which connects to the main SEA-US cable. (BSCC and NEC announce the completion of a new submarine cable linking the Republic of Palau.) BSCC is the Palau Government’s corporation formed to own and manage the submarine cable link. NEC installed a branching unit and connected this to a spur that runs to Ngeremlengui, Palau.
“This marks the completion of critical national infrastructure, that has already made its presence felt in improved services, and will continue to support the sustainable development of Palau long into the future as technologies evolve.” – E. Tommy Remengesau, Jr., President, Republic of Palau
Belau Cable themselves indicated that operations on the cable had begun a couple of weeks ago. (2017-11-24 Operations Begin) In this blog entry, Belau Cable’s CEO, Robin Russell, talks about how the speed of the connection is improving. Compared to the previous satellite links, there are improvements in both bandwidths and latency. Similarly, 4G phones are now able to take advantage of the bandwidth the phone system offers, reducing download times. Being connected via subsea cable will bring many benefits. The first one I hadn’t considered was the reduction in latency for card approval transaction times at the store. Although each transaction consumes a small amount of bandwidth, it is highly latency dependent. A terrestrial connection will significantly improve this. The others are the usual combinations of access to medical specialists via audio-visual links; access to cloud application platforms; improved streaming and more vibrant social media consumption (and creation).
“NEC is honored to have been selected as a partner for this significant project for the Republic of Palau and it is with deep pride that we hand over the keys to launch the new submarine cable link to the BSCC and the people of Palau. Yesterday, this island nation was still dependent on satellite communications, but from today, this new cable will bring information at the speed of light, improving quality of life for those living in and traveling to Palau.” – Toru Kawauchi, General Manager, Submarine Network Division, NEC
The quote from NEC is somewhat misleading, as the previous satellite connection also brought “information at the speed of light”, and in fact at a faster speed. (The speed of light in a vacuum being higher than that in glass fibre). The previous satellite connections had to travel to either geosynchronous orbit or via an intermittent connection to an orbiting satellite, through expensive bandwidth on the satellite transponders. The old link had increased latency and reduced bandwidth, leading to a poor experience of the internet. Now Palau not only gets information at the speed of light, but at the latency of a terrestrial link, and with the potential bandwidths offered on the SEA-US submarine cable.