19 Oct 2007

Analyst doubts Canberra will help pay undersea cable to Tahiti

3:38 pm on 19 October 2007

An Australian-based telecommunications analyst says he doubts the government in Canberra would help pay for an undersea cable to French Polynesia.

Speaking from Tonga, the French minister in charge of overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, has said he expects Australia and the European Union will help pay for the long-awaited link.

The cable, carrying faster and more reliable phone and internet services, will eventually connect French Polynesia north to Hawaii and west to Sydney via New Caledonia.

The Hawaii link alone will cost more than 100 million U-S dollars.

Telecommunications analyst Tim Marshall says Australian government funding is unlikely.

"I would seriously doubt that there would be any public funds or government money going into an investment of that kind, unless it was a communications system supplying services to disadvantaged nations. There's certainly the possibility of a commercial investment."

Tim Marshall says the company Alcatel Lucent aims to have the Sydney-Noumea link working by 2009.

French Polynesia currently relies on satellite for phone and internet communications.