Fiber Optic Marine Cable to be Laid This Week

Molokai sees final stages of inter-island connectivity project.

Expect a big ship to be hanging out on Molokai’s southern shore this week. It’ll be laying fiber optic cable connecting Molokai with Maui and Oahu.

By Catherine Cluett

On Tuesday, Sandwich Isles Communications (SIC) is scheduled to lay undersea cables that will connect all of the land-based fiber optic networks in place on five major Hawaiian islands. The Molokai site of connection is at Ali`i Fishpond; two cables will run over the ocean floor connecting Molokai to Sandy Beach, Oahu, and Wahikuli, Maui.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) began constructing the cable infrastructure on each island in 2004. By the end of October, all of the undersea cables should be laid, and a goal has been set for the end of the year to have all cables connected for inter-island connectivity, says SIC consultant Dawn Chang.

Preparations for the Molokai undersea cable are already in place. A conduit was drilled using “horizontal directional boring” technology, Chang says, which travels under the reef system to a distance of about three quarters of a mile offshore, where the cable will surface to the ocean floor.

On Tuesday, the vessel S.S. Intrepid will be located, un-anchored, off the Molokai shore to lay the marine cable. SIC will send down a diver, who will run the cable through the submarine conduit, connecting Ali`i Fishpond site.

Chang says the undersea portion of the fiber optic cable project was financed by commercial funds, amounting to approximately $126 million.

Molokai residents are serviced by either Hawaiian Telcom or Sandwich Isles. Residents using Sandwich Isles won’t see much change in their service, says Chang, unless they live in recently-built homes.

SIC worked with such organizations as the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers during the approval process for the marine cable project. They also cooperated closely with NOAA to complete the cable-laying before whale season begins, says Chang.

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