Okinawa to lay submarine optical cable to its remote islands

Okinawa to lay submarine optical cable to its remote islands

The information and communication infrastructure promotion project for the remote islands.


May 4, 2014 Kazuki Furugen of Ryukyu Shimpo

The Okinawa Prefecture Government (OPG) plans to lay about 915 kilometers of submarine optical cable to the remote islands from fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2016 in order to modernise communication tools such as the Internet. The cable will be connected between the main Island of Okinawa and its remote islands by August 2016. Residents living in islands near the main island of Okinawa, Miyako Islands and Yaeyama Islands, will be able to use advanced communications, at large capacity and low-cost. The OPG aims to attract telecommunications companies such as call centers to create jobs in the remote islands. It plans to use the loop cable system for the remote islands during possible disasters and emergencies such as earthquakes and typhoons.

The development of information and communication infrastructure has not advanced in the remote islands because laying cables is geographically difficult, and not highly profitable. Therefore, residents do not have access to ultra-high-speed communication, which is available on the main island of Okinawa. This adversely affects the economies of the remote island municipalities because they struggle to attract business.

The total project cost of laying cables is about 9.1 billion yen, of which the central government pays 80 percent as a lump-sum government subsidy for the promotion and development of Okinawa, and the OPG pays 20 percent.

By connecting new cable to an existing line, the rollout will form a loop between two districts such as the Sakishima loop, which includes Miyako and Yaeyama, and the Kumejima loop, which includes the islands around the southern part of the main Island of Okinawa.

The OPG also plans to lay the submarine optical cable to Yonaguni and Tarama Islands, where the residents use only radio communication. This project aims to raise the standard of remote island communication infrastructure to that of the urban area of the main Island. As it stands, if the cable between the main Island of Okinawa and Miyako fails anywhere, people are cut off from using telephone or Internet in large areas of Miyako and Yaeyama. By looping the cable, it is possible to prevent communication failures across the whole system, by providing backup and localising the failure to its source.

The officials of the OPG expect that the development of ultra-high-speed communication will contribute to education, healthcare and disaster prevention in the remote islands.

(English translation by T&CT)

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