21 Dec 2004

Marshall Islands and FSM hope to achieve go-ahead for cable in January

4:43 pm on 21 December 2004

There's hope that a meeting in January will give the go ahead to start on a communications cable linking the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia to Guam and Australia.

Telecom companies from the FSM and the Marshalls say indecision by the U.S. military is to blame for the hold-up with the 67 million U.S. dollar underwater fibre-optic cable planned to link Pohnpei, Kwajalein and Majuro to the region.

The two countries currently rely on satellites and suffer reduced services at times while being unable to access broadband internet services which could be provided by cable.

Our correspondent, Giff Johnson, says the telecommunications companies are keen to push ahead with the project but there's been no firm decisions from the U.S. military which maintains a missile base at Kwajalein.

"Generally, the military has been reluctant to participate in the installation costs, the infrastructure costs, preferring to lease back once installed. In other words, the cable would be owned by the Marshall Islands Telecom authority and the U.S. would simply lease the cable from it for its use."

Giff Johnson.