More reliable and cheaper internet is on the cards for some Pacific nations following a joint United States-Australia deal that will allow Google to run undersea cables to the region. The deal, funded by Canberra with US$50 million and Washington with an additional US$15 million, seeks to expand an existing commercial project by Google in the region to Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese emphasized the importance of supporting connectivity in the region during a White House news conference.
Improved internet access could make communication easier in times of emergencies, according to Dr. Amanda Watson, a research fellow at the Department of Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. She also highlighted the potential for offering consumers more choice, especially in countries with only one telecommunications company. Some Pacific Island countries currently lack cable connections, relying solely on satellite options for internet access. Dr. Watson pointed out that cable connectivity is generally more reliable and cheaper than satellite internet.
While there are concerns about the competitive tender process and the opportunities for small local companies, Dr. Watson does not believe that China influenced the US and Australia to fund the project. She argues that these countries have long-standing partnerships and friendships with the Pacific Island nations. The goal of this joint initiative is to enhance internet connectivity in the region and provide a more reliable and affordable means of accessing the internet for both individuals and businesses.
In conclusion, the US-Australia deal with Google to lay undersea cables in the Pacific aims to improve internet access in several nations. This project has the potential to provide greater connectivity, enhance communication during emergencies, and offer consumers more choice in countries with limited telecommunications options. While concerns remain about the tender process and opportunities for local companies, the joint initiative seeks to address the need for reliable and affordable internet access in the Pacific region.