With the flip of a switch Thursday, Palau joins the world of high speed internet delivered through its new submarine fiber optic cable.
Belau Submarine Cable Corporation—a state-owned enterprise that owns the cable and wholesales its broadband capacity—has reported that its first customer was connected in early November. Palau National Communications Corporation, the island’s biggest internet service provider, became the first to hook up and has been testing its connectivity through the system. Two other customers—Palau Telecoms and Palau Wifi—have also been testing their connectivity.
BSCC Chief Executive Officer Robin Russell reported that the fiber optic cable has been outstanding, running approximately two months with no errors. “It’s zero errors, that’s 100 percent availability and that’s the standard that we aim to achieve,” Russell said.
PNCC has prepared itself for the day when Palau’s fiber optic connectivity goes live. “The moment BSCC goes live is the instant PNCC brings fiber connectivity to all its customers,” PNCC acting General Manager Leo Ben Teriong said.
Officials said the fiber optic technology provides for five 100 gigabit per second wavelengths to Guam, more than 1000 times the current capacity available in Palau, and will provide a big boost to businesses, schools, hospitals and clinics, government services, entertainment and social networking.
Sales by BSCC are projectedl be well in excess of projections, which company officials say will result in sales four to five times the present total capacity.
Although local customers are promised much faster connectivity, no hike in price is expected to follow.
Teriong stressed that there will be no increase in the internet service price, once the fiber optic cable goes online. “We will do evaluate the cost of the fiber and the services and look for opportunity to reduce the prices, but no increase,” Teriong said at the leadership meeting.
Currently, Palau has been relying entirely on satellite links for internet connectivity. The high cost and limited bandwidth restrict internet penetration. In Palau, the internet is accessed by only 25 percent of the population, while 90 percent have access to mobile phones.
The Palau fiber optic cable is funded with a $25 million loan agreement through the Asian Development Bank’s North Pacific Regional Connectivity Investment Project signed in March 2016.