The BSCC Business Plan for 2019 to 2023 is available in the Governance Section.
So far we are tracking OK, but analysis for that plan has brought a major strategic realignment for BSCC. Before we get to that, we should celebrate BSCC’s PTC Innovation Award.
The Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC), holds its annual meeting in Honolulu every year attracting thousands of telecommunications industry participants from all the major operators and suppliers. While there is an opportunity for bilateral meetings between customers and suppliers that sees back-to-back schedules for three days, PTC also supports industry scholarships, research and training, and runs an impressive series of focused and plenary meetings over the course of the annual meeting. PTC started its Innovation Awards in 2018.
In 2019, BSCC was nominated for Best Quality of Life Improvement.
As you might imagine, the BSCC team was pretty happy about the award, as we have put in a fair bit of effort with exactly that objective, improving the quality of life in Palau.
Awards recognise what has been done, and while BSCC is proud of what we have done, we remain focused on what is to come. If we look to progress against the business plan, capacity growth has continued unabated, as can be seen in the Operational Reporting section.
That reporting uses Terabytes downloaded per month to measure volume. But we can also measure “speed”. For example, the total satellite speed available in Palau pre-BSCC was 500 megabits per second. That satellite capacity remains in place, a good thing for back-up as we discovered on May 23rd 2018 when BSCCnet was out of service for 4 hours due to a repair on the SEA-US trunk, to which our Palau spur is connected. We were hardly inconvenienced, in Palau, but it was a reminder of the increasing vulnerability of our economy and of services of all kinds to any sustained outage on BSCCnet.
This was demonstrated on January 20th 2019, when Tonga’s international and domestic submarine cables were out of service for 13 days while a cable ship deployed to repair the damaged cable. Dislocation was significant when the whole society was rationed to available satellite capacity.
If we use the speed measure in Mbps, we can see just how much the gap has widened between available satellite capacity and the capacity now being utilised in Palau.
That ever-widening gap represents how much we could not do if BSCCnet is not available.
It is clear that the satellite capacity that once served the whole of Palau is increasingly inadequate back-up. The prospect of increased satellite expenditure just to maintain a limited backup is looming. This is what has caused the strategic shift for BSCC.
Previously our strategy was to try to increase the capacity and reduce the cost of satellite capacity, by encouraging pooling across the Pacific as a kind of mutual insurance. But it is clear that the only viable option is to remove the backup issue by increasing the route options available through high speed submarine cable. That is to say, our new strategy for resilience is to deliver a second cable connection for Palau.
If we combine that with CAP-A construction starting soon at Airai to allow interconnection with the Airai and Koror fiber networks, and the looped fiber connection from CAP-A to the cable landing station at Ngeremlengui, CAP-N, a robust solution is within sight.
Submarine cable projects are about getting the money most of the time, same as in the movies. This is not as difficult as it might seem, because the cost of that 500 Mbps of satellite capacity is very high. In fact, a second cable would deliver cost savings over the status quo!
This our vision of the national shared IP backbone infrastructure with a second cable in place: