Oceans Apart but Closely Connected

In 2023, there was a prolonged outage of the subsea cable between Hawai'i and Guam - and REANNZ pulled out all the stops to support the region.

Deep at the bottom of our oceans, hundreds of subsea fibre-optic cables criss-cross the globe, acting as superhighways for the internet, transferring data packets between continents and nations at close to the speed of light.

These cables, though narrow enough to grasp in your hand, are reinforced with many protective layers to resist all sorts of damage they might be exposed to on the seabed. Sometimes, however, they get broken. Wayward ship anchors, trawler gear and natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions are among the causes.

So when the cable linking Hawai’i and Guam suffered multiple breakages in May 2023, one victim of the outage was the high performance global NREN network, which connects researchers and educators across the globe.

The University of Hawai’i is a key partner for REANNZ and other members of the network, providing primary connectivity between Hawai’i and Guam, space to house equipment, and a back-up path to reach other research and education institutes via the mainland.

With sub-sea cables often taking months to repair, our people at REANNZ immediately swung into action and worked with our Asia Pacific partners to establish a back-up network path, rapidly bringing the Hawai'i and Guam NREN connection back online.

Dan Twohill, REANNZ’s Team Leader of Network Services, says: “This was a great example of international NRENs leaning in on each other to resolve issues and strengthen the overall resiliency of the global NREN network.

“We were delighted to be able to help the University of Hawai’i, whose people are often in the position of assisting us and other NREN members.”

The swift action by REANNZ and its partners enabled institutions as diverse as the Universities of Hawai'i and Guam, Guam Community College and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan to have connectivity restored and research traffic flowing between them again.

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