Pacific island nations in new satcomm deal


Several Pacific island nations and territories have been reported this week to be a part of a satellite communications deal called Pacific Islands-Republic Communications Network (Pacific ComNet in brief), according to an industry news source.<!--more-->

Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and the territory of New Caledonia are reported to have been signatories to a deal to initiate their own satellite programme for “reducing dependency on Internet and IDD calls currently provided by other nations.” The signing took place in Hong Kong.

The launching of Pacific ComNet will also have an added security factor in allowing the nations to protect their valuable fishing resources to deter and intercept illegal fishing within their territorial waters to protect their main economic and ecological resource, says the news report.

The project draws heavily in terms of financial and technology inputs from significant entities in China and Russia. It is rather unusual for a Russian entity with mining interests to take an interest in Pacific Island telecommunications. But interestingly, the technology purports to offer a “security factor” to “help protect their valuable fishing … [and] … “their main economic and ecological resource.”

The satellite will be launched from Russia using existing commercial launch vehicles. Pacific ComNet has commissioned the satellite from Russia-based TIME Technologia LLC who has entered a Joint-venture for this project with Peixin Investment (HK), according to the report.

The technical and financial viability will be implemented by a consortium of scientific and technical companies headed by Dr. Sias Mostert of Space Commercial Services Holding (Pty) Ltd in South Africa. The life expectancy of the satellite is 50 years.

The development has raised eyebrows on Pacific island telecommunications interest groups on the internet with many posts saying the telecommunications departments of the countries mentioned were not even aware of the deal.