Thursday, 18 January 2018 09:43

Vocus replaces Huawei for Solomon Islands cable project Featured

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The Vocus Group has entered into a deal with Australia to undertake a scoping study on design, construction and procurement of an undersea cable system between the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Australia, displacing Huawei which was the original company signed to undertake the job.

Vocus made no mention of Huawei in a statement issued this morning. Political issues appear to have got in the way of the Chinese telecommunications giant participating in the project.

Vocus has experience in handling such projects, given that it designed and developed the North-West Cable System and the Australia-Singapore Cable. The latter project reached the halfway completion mark in November, while the former is up and running.

Last July, it was reported that Australia was putting pressure on the Solomon Islands to withdraw from the Project Honiara undersea cable project after the contract was awarded to Huawei.

Security concerns were said to be the reason why Australian officials had made the request which was, tellingly, conveyed to Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare by Nick Warner, the director-general of the spy agency ASIS.

The message conveyed was that if the Solomon Islands proceeded with the project, then Australia would be forced to withdraw the licence for landing rights in Sydney.

Vocus said in a statement on Thursday morning that "its cable designs used the latest multi-terabit technology and would vastly improve the international connectivity of Papua New Guinea and bring high-speed international telecommunications to Solomon Islands for the first time".

"The project scoping study phase includes consultation with external stakeholders including the governments of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, the procurement of the cable system, and the commencement of permitting. The outcome of the scoping study phase is expected to result in the rollout of a cable system on behalf of the Australian Government commencing in 2018."

Huawei is also facing problems in the US where politicians are bringing pressure to bear on AT&T to cut commercial ties with the Chinese company.

Back in 2012, the US Congress issued a report that raised concerns about state-sponsored spying related to products made by Huawei, the biggest global maker of telecommunications equipment. The company has denied any such involvement.

In Australia, nearly six years ago, Huawei was denied any role in supplying equipment to the country's national broadband network project, following advice by ASIS, one of Australia's spy agencies.

iTWire has contacted Huawei for comment.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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