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Introducing Bulikula and Halaihai, subsea cables to connect the central Pacific

January 18, 2024
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Brian Quigley

VP, Global Network Infrastructure, Google Cloud

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Today, we're announcing plans for the central Pacific Connect initiative, which will deliver two new intra-Pacific cables — Bulikula and Halaihai — in collaboration with Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH), APTelecom, and Telstra to increase digital connectivity in the central Pacific.

Bulikula will connect Guam with Fiji and is the Fijian word for “golden cowrie,” a rare shell found in the Pacific Ocean often worn by local chieftains as a badge of rank. Halaihai, which will link Guam and French Polynesia, is named after a type of vine that grows on beaches. The word is often used in the Chamorro expression, “tilifón halaihai,” which refers to information spread from person to person, whether face-to-face, by phone, or over the internet.

Building on the South Pacific Connect initiative announced in October, the central Pacific Connect initiative will create a ring between Guam, French Polynesia and Fiji. This ring will include pre-positioned branching units that will allow other countries and territories of Oceania to take advantage of the reliability and resilience resulting from the initiative.

Once operational, Bulikula and Halaihai will join Guam’s existing subsea cable portfolio — which includes Apricot, Echo, and Taiwan-Philippines-U.S. — accelerating the island’s position as a growing gateway for international connectivity. The Government of Guam has long prioritized bridging the digital divide, with key programs like its five-year action plan to expand internet access to more Guam residents and commitment to strengthening the island’s telecommunications infrastructure.

“Beyond bridging the digital divide in our local community, this is Guam’s contribution — enabling new digital infrastructure such as subsea cables — to create and support connectivity between the northern and southern Pacific islands,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. “Our economic futures are all dependent on digital technology, and we welcome the Halaihai and the Bulikula subsea cables to uplift our people together.” - Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero

“The announcement of the central Pacific Connect initiative gives every indication for a well-connected Region aligned to the Pacific Leaders vision for 2050. The Bulikula and Halaihai subsea cables will underpin the Pacific Peoples digital interconnectedness and lead the way for economic transformation through digital connectivity.” - Fiji Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Communications, Honourable Manoa Kamikamica

"Looking at a map, my country’s location at the center of the great Pacific Ocean spells 'connectivity.' I am therefore enthusiastic that Google has chosen to add Guam and Chile to the growing hub of submarine cables connected to Tahiti. A world better connected is a better world." - President Moetai Brotherson of French Polynesia

"APTelecom has a fundamental objective of increasing the reliability and resilience of digital links in the Pacific. We are pleased to be collaborating with Google, Telstra and our island partners, driving together to accelerate and consolidate the delivery of connectivity solutions that will reduce the digital divide." - Eric Handa, CEO of APTelecom

“Telstra International’s partnership with Google on the central Pacific Connect project will significantly improve connectivity in the South Pacific. Over several decades Telstra has established the largest carrier subsea cable network in APAC, and with our operational scale, we are looking forward to partnering with Google and APT to provide much needed redundancy and vital capacity to underserved island countries.” - Roary Stasko, CEO Telstra International

“Amalgamated Telecom is excited to be investing in the Pacific Connect Initiative. This core infrastructure investment in the ring and branching units will enable fundamental changes to internet access for our operators in Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa and Vanuatu. Additionally it will allow us to offer trunk access to all of the Pacific Islands.” - Ivan Fong, CEO of Amalgamated Telecom Holdings

The US and Australia have a strong history of supporting the region and will continue to work collaboratively toward future submarine cable connectivity for Pacific Island countries to facilitate access to global markets and the realization of regional connectivity goals.

“Australia welcomes the central Pacific Connect initiative, which will significantly boost internet connectivity in the Pacific. This will support the region’s economic and social development by opening up new opportunities for trade, e-commerce and government service delivery.” - The Hon Pat Conroy MP, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific

“This is a great example of a partnership that combines the considerable resources and expertise of the private sector with government support and partnership to ensure access to modern, trusted and secure communications infrastructure throughout the Pacific. The CPC will lead to greater digital connectivity and economic opportunity for millions of people.” - U.S. Ambassador at Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy, Nathaniel C. Fick

Studies show the economic development and productivity gains subsea cables can bring to the places where they land. With increased access to digital services, more people can take advantage of skill development and career opportunities, while businesses and public sector organizations can better serve their customers and constituents. We are excited about the long-term benefits that our latest Pacific initiatives will bring to our users and Google Cloud customers in Guam, across the Pacific, and around the world.

We’re excited to share more as we continue our work with partners to reduce the digital divide across the Pacific.

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