Preparing the Ground

After a pretty intense week we have completed a thoroughgoing project risk review, with a lot of involvement of BSCC’s Board, Paul, Sibesh, our civil works contractors Surangel’s, and Richard Misech, the PMU Palau site manager.

No threats to the project schedule were identified.

Next week is another big one, with BSCC heading to Guam for a series of meetings with telcos to resolve the Guam end of things, and the announcement of the start of NEC’s overall system construction by the President and other dignitaries. Of course, here on the ground we know that it has been underway at Ngaremlengui for some time, with commencement of the civil works. But the BSCC project is just part of a much bigger picture, the iceberg below the water. Overall the project involves an array of international telcos and financiers, giant telecommunications manufacturers with the specialised skills required to produce the various components of the networks, armies of contractors undertaking civil works in multiple locations and the cable trash who put all these components together to contribute this next big trans-Pacific link between Indonesia, Philippines, and the USA to the emerging global fibre optic mesh network.

This whole juggernaut is now rolling, and all the years of planning, all the problems solved, the meticulous design of the route, the manufacture of thousands of kilometres of submarine fibre optic cable, the legal work, will be realised in a functioning system in a matter of merely months from now.

In just over a week we expect the Flexenclosure module to arrive in Palau, and the Cable Landing Station (CLS) transport and installation phase begins. This includes all the power feeds, back-up generator, emergency power system, cooling, shore bulkhead, beach man-hole (BMH), and the radio tower so it is ready for installation and testing of, first, our equipment, and then our customers’ equipment. This will bring another team of specialists from Flexenclosure and the BSCC PMU into Palau.

We also met with our customers this week, and there was a very encouraging sense of excitement at the prospect of what can be achieved in the next eight very busy months. BSCCnet, together with the local Palauan ICT service providers, can’t solve all the connectivity problems for the long term, we will need a second cable to do that, so we can enjoy high quality broadband services even if there is a service interruption to BSCCnet.

But of course, now is the time to focus on the first parts of the solution, and make sure we get BSCCnet right. We can worry about how to design and finance a second one a bit further down the track. BSCC has to pay off the ADB loan before there is much that can be done about it.

I hope you will forgive me for using “our” and “we” in the context of Palau.