Gondwana-2. It is not a secret code, but the name of the second submarine fiber optic cable that allows New Caledonia to secure its international digital links. Its innings began on March 15th. At 1,515 kilometers long, it will reach Fiji and is expected to enter service next August. It will provide the French archipelago of 270,000 inhabitants with a second international digital route. Since 2008, New Caledonia has been connected via Sydney by the submarine cable, Gondwana-1.
“It’s important when you’re like us a small country, a small town, to benefit from all the technological progress to open up to the world and our region. It’s strategic for New Caledonia. “ said Louis Mapou, the separatist president of the Caledonian collegiate government, on the occasion of the equipment of the first landing site of this cable in the Nouville district in Nouméa.
And Yoann Lecourieux, President of the Post and Telecommunications Office (OPT), to specify: “This second cable brings the international security of digital telecommunications to New Caledonia. We recently saw in Tonga how a volcanic eruption had put the entire island’s economy in trouble. ” In fact, last January, the Tonga Islands were isolated from the world for five weeks after the rupture of the only digital cable in the archipelago that connected it to the Fiji Islands, during the eruption of an underwater volcano. .
Avoid any Internet interruptions, even simple interruptions
Gondwana-2 aims to prevent any interruption of services or internet outages by ensuring all communications in New Caledonia, both internationally and locally, and to allow the Isles of Loyalty and the Isle of Pines to access at a very high speed. . It will also open up digital highways between the three French Pacific territories, Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia already connected to Fiji.
Since the launch of Gondwana-1, New Caledonia has been at risk of being cut off from communications. There is a backup device to compensate for a break in this first cable, but it would only keep 3% of the flow, “Especially for everything related to emergencies, what is medical and what is related to the police “, explained in 2019 the OPT in New Caledonia on the 1st. “In contrast, financial operations, banking transactions, everything related to digital would be neutralized in the event of a breakdown of the existing submarine cable ”.
The OPT is also developing the local network through another cable, Picot-2, which will close the loop between Grande-Terre and the islands (des Pins, Yaté, Maré, Lifou), and will bring broadband to about 9,000 potential users.
These two digital devices represent an investment of 4.5 billion CFP (37.5 million euros), half of which is funded by the OPT, a public institution in New Caledonia.
99% of the Internet goes through submarine cables
The development of submarine cables has intensified in recent years. By 2020 it will have recorded a record number of deployments with 36 new cables. Nearly 99 percent of all Internet traffic is provided by submarine lines, the true “backbone” of global telecommunications, says Serge Besanger, a professor at ESCE International Business School, in an article published in The Conversation. Satellites make up the remaining 1%. If “highways of the sea” are preferred to spacecraft, it’s mostly because they’re less expensive and much faster.
According to this expert, today there are more than 420 submarine cables in the world, totaling 1.3 million kilometers, which is more than three times the distance from Earth to the Moon. The longest cable is no less than 39,000 miles long. Called “SEA-ME-WE 3”, it connects Southeast Asia with Western Europe via the Red Sea. These strategic infrastructures are also perceived by many specialists as a great vulnerability, especially in the new context represented by the “hybrid war”. As economic sanctions rain down on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, Europeans fear that Moscow will cut some submarine cables, depriving the continent of some of its digital connections.