Satellite Networks is the Optimal Solution for the Pacific Islands

The challenge in the Pacific has been the low population of over 11.4 million people in under-developing micro-nations, scattered across thousands of islands over one of the largest geographical areas on the planet. Among the unique issues confronting the Pacific islands are the emergence of fiber to the islands. As these links cover thousands of kilometers, the cost is substantial when serving such a small population over such a vast area.

Satellite is often seen in the Pacific as a lifeline. With devastating hurricanes nearly every year, ABS has developed solutions to provide cost-effective managed solutions on C-band to provide a communications link that rides over the forces of nature – this is critical for survival for remote island communities.

ABS entered this market just over 2 years ago and has quickly gained the attention and support of the region’s telecom companies and governments. We have invested in the region and have set up a teleport in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to provide cost-effective resilient broadband internet and IP trunking solutions across the Pacific islands and remote parts of PNG. The teleport provides uplink and downlink paths to the Pacific Ocean region on the ABS-2 and ABS-6 satellites located at 75°E and 159°E respectively.

Within the islands the challenges faced by the local telecom operators are numerous. While fiber has come to the main islands, remote islands are and will remain in the foreseeable future relying upon satellites for all aspects of communications. However fiber can be cut and this has happened a number of times just in the past 2 years.

When the Hantu cable connecting the island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Marshall islands was damaged, ABS provided the needed support with the change of network configuration and bandwidth which allowed Pohnpei to continue to function without too much degradation of service compared to the usual fiber service. Indeed business did not suffer at all, and domestic use only noticed small amounts of congestion.

The Marshall Islands made headlines worldwide as the “Country with no internet”. Their failure to plan for a fiber outage meant there was only a small amount of access available, which was rationed across the airport, government and banks for small periods of time each day.

Our project with the Ulithi high school on the remote FSM island of Ulithi has provided the school with better access to the internet, and with that, educational material and support. This high school is a center for many other islands, where their children can now go for higher education, and the opportunities that it brings.

Providing adequate connectivity is vital to this region and satellite provides the optimal solution. With access to better communications, it brings benefits across education, health, business, weather risk management and crisis management. ABS dedication to planning, and working with our Pacific partners provides reliability, even when fiber is damaged.