The man behind the latest project to further bolster data connectivity in New Zealand is confident the project will be a success thanks to his company's established position in Pacific Islands telecommunications.

Adolfo Montenegro, chief executive of Bluesky Group, has signed a contract with Alcatel-Lucent to roll out the Moana Cable, a submarine cable system to connect New Zealand with Hawaii by 2018.

The Moana Cable, will connect New Zealand to Hawaii through Samoa and American Samoa, while also linking the Cook Islands to the Samoa hub. Bluesky plans to expand the Moana Cable to reach Niue, Tokelau and French Polynesia.

"Our vision is to connect the Pacific community around the world. We do that with a common and shared purpose and shared values... its very consistent with the Pacific Island culture," Montenegro said.


See the path the undersea cable will take here.

NZHerald Graphic
NZHerald Graphic

The cable will mean more capacity and a reduction on redundancy fears in New Zealand, and will feature new technology that wasn't available when the Southern Cross Cable, the cable currently connecting New Zealand to the United States, was laid.

Although the Southern Cross Cable has been upgraded a number of time, its maximum capacity is 12 terabits per second, while the Moana Cable will feature total capacity between New Zealand and Hawaii of 20 terabits per second.

Montenegro was in charge of Bluesky six years ago when it completed its first submarine cable, to connect Samoa, American Samoa and Hawaii.

Bluesky and Alcatel-Lucent recovered an unused cable that was previously used by New Zealand, and repurposed it.

"We bought the retired cable and reconnected it, picked it up off the ocean floor and rolled it up and put it back down again and laid it in to Samoa... So we're resourceful.

"We've grown and we've run out of capacity. The cable is getting old and we need to do something more.

"We've been looking at it for two years... this year conversations [with international companies] became more clear and we decided to build a brand new cable."


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Montenegro said the main benefit of the Moana Cable will be seen in the Pacific Islands, where internet and mobile broadband will be cheaper.

"The cost of providing a cable is very high, for a small island its almost prohibited... once we build a large cable we share it with a bigger economy and now the cost is better for all of us."

Montenegro said Bluesky would be the chief leasee on the cable, and their demand in the Pacific islands would be "a significant portion" of the cable.

All that was left to do was to secure customers for the rest of the capacity and confirm the correct permits and licences would be granted for the cable construction.

"At this moment we are under non-disclosure agreements with a lot of our partners... I couldn't tell you who but I could tell you... we are talking to the major players. We feel confident that we have enough to be able to go to construction."

The Moana Cable's timing was right, Montenegro said.

"A lot of other projects came a little too early perhaps. The growth [in data usage] is exponential."

A potential landing site was being scouted by engineers, but it was unlikely to be in Auckland, where the channels on the inner Hauraki Gulf are very busy with sea traffic.

The proposed Hawaiki Cable is set to land in Northland, and has previously told the Business Herald the project was going according to plan.

On the topic of Hawaiki Cable, Montenegro said: "We know we have the right price and the investment is the right amount. We know we have the right relationships with the right customers so we feel confident we can make our case work."

He said there would always be the need for greater connectivity in New Zealand.

Bluesky's current role in New Zealand's telecommunications network is facilitated through Spark. It offers SIM cards on the Spark network that allow for cheap calls to be made to Samoa and Cook Islands.

He said Bluesky would continue to focus on connecting Pacific Island communities in the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.