Hawaiian Telcom, partners complete SEA-US submarine cable

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The cable will give Hawaiian Telcom and its eventual new owner, Cincinnati Bell, a new revenue stream and connection point for business and wholesale customers.

Hawaiian Telecom and its partners have completed the build-out of the $250 million Southeast Asia—United States (SEA-US) undersea fiber cable, enhancing Trans-Pacific capacity on an underserved route as existing cables reach the end of life.

This cable will also give the telco and its eventual new owner, Cincinnati Bell, which announced a deal to acquire Hawaiian Telcom in July, a new revenue stream and connection point for business and wholesale customers, particularly for those customers that need access between the United States and Asia. The service provider is a co-owner and operator of the ultra-long-haul submarine fiber system connecting Indonesia, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and California.

Timing for the SEA-US cable could not be better for Hawaiian Telcom and the state of Hawaii overall. A recent report conducted by the University of Hawai‘i Applied Research Laboratory and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory revealed that the state’s economic future was at risk because existing trans-Pacific cables were reaching the end of their useful lives and new undersea cables had bypassed Hawaii.

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“Our SEA-US Trans-Pacific fiber system provides us with cost-effective bandwidth for our customers' needs, while positioning us to better compete and to be able to provide fully integrated end-to-end solutions to the Continental United States as well as to Asia,” said Scott Barber, CEO of Hawaiian Telcom, during the second-quarter earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

In order to get a good return on what the telco says is a “substantial” investment, Hawaiian Telcom began offering bandwidth directly to other service providers and enterprise customers. Hawaiian Telcom sold nearly $30 million of capacity on the cable when it began construction with partner providers in 2015, validating the need for bandwidth on the trans-Pacific route and confirming a strong return on investment.

The service provider said that not only have capacity sales already exceeded Hawaiian Telcom’s investment, but it also has access to additional excess capacity to pursue further revenue opportunities.

SEA-US was designed with 100 Gbps speed technology delivering 20 terabits of capacity. However, the system is engineered to enable far greater capacities to accommodate future technology advancements and customer needs. The cable system provides what Hawaiian Telcom claims is the fastest direct access between the U.S., Philippines and Indonesia, extending nearly 9,000 miles on a route that bypasses congested, earthquake-prone regions.

The trans-Pacific fiber network also provides route diversity to the Northern Pacific route between Japan and the U.S. Backed by expansive and redundant terrestrial networks connecting cable stations and data centers in California, Guam and Hawaii, SEA-US strengthens Hawai‘i’s position as a key strategic hub.

Joining Hawaiian Telcom in the SEA-US consortium are six partners: Globe Telecom (Manila, Philippines), GTA (Tamuning, Guam), GTI (Los Angeles, California), RTI (San Francisco, California), Telin (Jakarta, Indonesia), and Telkom USA (Los Angeles, California).