A multinational consortium will build the first high-bandwidth optical fiber submarine cable system linking Southeast Asia and the US at a cost of US$500 million, a member said yesterday.
Singapore telecom operator StarHub, which is part of the 17-member group, said the system, called the Asia-America Gateway (AAG), is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of next year.
Spanning 20,000km, the cable system will connect Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and the US west coast, StarHub said in a statement.
It will also provide "seamless interconnection" with other regions like Europe, Australia, Africa and other parts of Asia.
The new cable system will provide a capacity of up to 1.92 terabits per second of data bandwidth which should help meet the increasing need for faster and more reliable Internet, video, data and other multimedia services.
For example, the new system can support 130,000 high definition TV signals simultaneously, the statement said.
The cable system is also designed to provide an "alternative and more secure link" between Southeast Asia and the US and complement existing networks like the APCN2 and the Japan-US Cable Network.
"This low-risk route was designed to avoid the volatile and hazardous Pacific Ring, thus mitigating the effects from natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, which have previously damaged submarine cable systems resulting in major disruptions to international Internet links," it said.
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake off Taiwan last December damaged international underwater cable links, sparking widespread communications disruption across the region.
"With the recent events of undersea cable cuts and earthquakes, this system provides much needed international route diversity to minimize service disruptions," StarHub chief executive Terry Clontz said.
The consortium members include AT&T Inc of the US, British Telecom Global Network Services, Thailand's CAT Telekom, Eastern Telecom of the Philippines, the Brunei government, PT Indosat of Indonesia and Cambodia's PCP Co.
It also includes India's Bharti, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co, Saigon Postel Corp, Australia's Telstra, TELKOM Indonesia, Telecom New Zealand, Telekom Malaysia and Viettel of Vietnam.