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Australia, Solomon Islands ink new Submarine Cable

Australia and the Solomon Islands reportedly inked a contract yesterday blocking Huawei from building the island nation’s new submarine cable.
The much-talked about 4000km cable will connect the Solomon Islands to Papua New Guinea and then to Australia.
The Register reporter Richard Chirgwin reported that Huawei had won a contract to build the cable in 2016, which irked Australia and prompted its Department of Foreign Affairs to offer to run a new tender and to pay for two-thirds of the link.
While Huawei’s position in the matter is still unclear, the decision will cost Australia’s foreign aid budget upwards of AU$100 million, with the spend designed to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop yesterday reportedly characterised the cable contract as a simple matter of competition.
“We offered them an alternative to an undersea cable project we believe is cheaper, faster, more reliable than the competitor,” Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s AM program yesterday.
“It’s a competitive world … we want them to have alternatives”, she added.
Meantime, Huawei’s attempts to lift the Australian ban included appointing locals to an Australian board, and last week chairman John Lord reportedly warned Australia against extending its NBN ban to emerging 5G mobile networks.
Another cable project, ICN2, has just been contracted to connect the Solomon Islands to Vanuatu. That cable would provide a second indirect route to the USA, via cables connecting Vanuatu to Fiji, and then Fiji to Hawaii.

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