The small Polynesian island of Samoa will soon be directly connected to Australia, New Zealand, and California by submarine cables thanks to a partnership between Samoa Submarine Cable Company and Southern Cross Cable Network. On February 6, the Samoan government publicly announced the commencement of commercial negotiations with the Southern Cross Cable Network — which currently connects Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii — and expressed its hope to make Samoa a cable hub in the region.
The submarine telecommunication cables provide forms of connectivity including internet, phone calls, and messaging. Except for Antarctica, all of the world’s continents are connected by submarine cables. Submarine communication cables are used to transmit 99% of international data traffic, as they are faster and more reliable than satellite communication.
Currently, Samoa uses cables connecting it to American Samoa, and from there on to Hawaii. However, this network is running near full-capacity. The construction of the Tui-Samoa Submarine Cable project recently commenced which will connect Samoa to French islands Wallis and Futuna, and Vanua Levu and Suva on the Fiji mainland. Suva is connected to Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand by the Southern Cross Cable Network. However, the new cable announced on February 6 will connect Samoa directly to Australia, New Zealand, and Los Angeles, C.A. as part of the new Southern Cross NEXT project.
In 2016, exports from the US to Samoa totaled $27.9 million, and imports to the US amounted to $5.3 million. Major imports from Samoa include food, machinery, fish, and furniture. California exports accounted for 72% of total US exports to Samoa and primarily comprised food products. The state also exported beverages, tobacco, paper, and chemicals.
In 2013 there were 174,954 Samoan Americans in the US. Of these, 32% resided in California, almost a third of whom live in the County of Los Angeles. Hawai‘i is home to 33,943 Samoan Americans, the majority of whom reside on the island of O‘ahu. The University of Hawai‘i offers courses in Samoan language and culture.
Tara Duane is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at the University of Western Australia.