21 Dec 2004

Decision close on multi million dollar communication cable link from Micronesia to Australia.

8:31 pm on 21 December 2004

There's hope that a meeting in January will give the go ahead to start on a communications cable linking the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia to Guam and Australia.

Telecom companies from the FSM and the Marshalls say indecision by the U.S. military is to blame for the hold-up with the 67 million U.S. dollar underwater fibre-optic cable planned to link Pohnpei, Kwajalein and Majuro to the region.

The two countries currently rely on satellites and suffer reduced services at times.

Our correspondent, Giff Johnson, says the head of FSM Telecom believes the cable would make a huge difference.

"The current satellite service is like using a one inch pipe for communicating. He says the submarine cable is like using a pipe that is two hundred feet wide so it would be a dramatic change to what would happen here to telecommunications."

Mr Johnson says the telecommunications companies are keen to push ahead with the project but there's been no firm decisions from the U.S. military which maintains a missile base at Kwajalein.

He says there's hope the meeting in January will give the green light to the project.