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Pacific Islands amalgamate resources to safeguard satellite communications links

The recent catastrophic loss of communications affecting 20 Pacific Island countries and territories have led the Pacific Islands telecommunications operators and carriers to search for safeguard measures for their crucial international communication links and key domestic communications links.

With the already fragile economy in these islands and the negative impact that such catastrophic loss of communications will have on these fragile economies and social well being, the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association [PITA] have taken the initiatives to work together to seek more diversity and redundancy for these crucial communications links in order to safeguard emergency lifelines and the economic continuity required from the communications sector.

On the 28 th of February and 1 st March, PITA convened a meeting in Auckland , New Zealand , to review the impact from the failure of one of the main Pacific Ocean satellite and causing all Pacific Islands to lose all or part of their international and rural telecommunications services. The meeting provided the opportunity for members to share and exchange impacts of the satellite failure and discussed future paths to best address the concerns and issues. The meeting also provided opportunities to meet with Intelsat and other satellite service providers including satellite integrated solution providers to discuss these concerns of the Pacific Islands and explore solutions. One of the key issues and concerns looked at, in addition to the losses and costs incurred, was the causes for the delay to restore communications after the satellite failure and how any future similar event could be better managed and avoided. Several options were discussed and PITA formed a Study Group to review these options and provide recommendations to PITA. The President of PITA, Maui Sanford, said that the final solution would most likely not a single option but a mesh of two or more options to give the best possible solution for the Pacific Islands . He also noted that the recommendations would also include disaster communications and restoration from other natural disasters such as hurricanes that can affect communications infrastructure in the Pacific.

The meeting also noted that in the need to avoid any repeated losses running collectively into millions of dollars in lost revenue, costs and lost of economic opportunities and emergency communications, there will be a need to work collectively with leaders, governments, and stake holders for the common goal and interests to safeguard this region's fragile economy and bring about equal opportunities to all. The support to consolidate all efforts including from the international community and organisations will be most sought.

The following economies incurred losses and costs with some running into thousand hundreds of dollars when the Intelsat 802 satellite at 174 degrees East was lost;

  1. Northern Mariana Islands
  2. Palau
  3. Federated States of Micronesia
  4. Marshall Is
  5. Kiribati
  6. Nauru
  7. Tuvalu
  8. Tokelau
  9. Samoa
  10. American Samoa
  11. Tahiti
  12. Cook Is
  13. Tonga
  14. Niue
  15. Fiji
  16. Solomon Is
  17. Vanuatu
  18. New Caledonia
  19. Papua New Guinea
  20. Norfolk Is

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