By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
The U.S. State Department today announced the official launch of a long-stalled submarine cable project in Micronesia that will link three Pacific island nations, where it is touted to provide faster communication.
“Work to manufacture and lay the East Micronesia Cable is officially underway,” according to a statement from the Office of the Spokesperson.
The $95 million EMC project, which has been contracted to NEC Corp., will deliver an undersea cable to the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati and Nauru.
EMC will connect Kosrae in FSM, Tarawa in Kiribati, and Nauru to the existing HANTRU-1 cable landing point located in Pohnpei.
“Next steps involve final survey and design of the route and manufacturing of the cable, which will be no wider than a garden hose,” the department said. “Once built, the cable will be laid across the ocean floor and connected to landing infrastructure that will also be constructed in each country.”
Officials said the undersea cable will provide faster communications to approximately 100,000 people across three countries.
The undersea cable contract is a key component of the estimated EMC project, funded by Australia, Japan and the United States.
“Today’s milestone is being marked by the launch of the East Micronesia Cable website, which provides information in English, Gilbertese, Kosraean, and Nauruan about the project,” the department said,
First proposed in 2017, the project hit a snag when the FSM reconsidered the awarding of a contract to lay sensitive undersea communications cables to the former Huawei Technologies Co. Marine Networks, a Chinese company now called HMN Technologies.
In 2020, Reuters reported that the U.S. warned the FSM government that the Chinese company's involvement posed a security threat.