Asia Netcom to build US$636m cable link

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2007, 12:00am

Submarine cable network operator Asia Netcom will invest up to US$636 million to build a trans-Pacific link to its East-Asia Crossing (EAC) system, adding more capacity to support the region's fragile undersea cable infrastructure.

'In light of the recent events that followed the Boxing Day earthquakes off the coast of Taiwan, there is clearly a need for more diversity [of connections] between Asia and the US,' said Bill Barney, Asia Netcom's chief executive.

The proposed 23,500km EAC Pacific infrastructure, to be operational by July next year, was designed to extend Asia Netcom's EAC system with a northern route connecting Japan to the US and a southern route linking the Philippines to the US via Guam and Hawaii.

That new undersea cable setup also has a direct link between the Philippines and Japan, which will close the EAC's ring design and integrate the Pacific connection to the existing system, which connects Hong Kong, the mainland, Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan, Korea and Singapore.

The 19,800km EAC system was one of a clutch of submarine cable systems damaged by the series of earthquakes off Taiwan that disrupted telecommunications services across Asia.

After suffering a cut on the EAC's main cable, Asia Netcom rerouted telecommunications traffic to other parts of the network and supported the bandwidth requirements of various affected communications carriers and internet service providers in the region.

Wilfred Kwan Tai-lai, president and chief technology officer at Asia Netcom, credited that resiliency to the EAC's multi-ring architecture, which added layers of redundancy and route diversity at every connection to help eliminate any single point of failure in the system.

The new EAC Pacific system will feature four fibre pairs, each supporting a minimum design capacity of 2.56 terabits per second.

'EAC Pacific is designed to enhance the connectivity options of the fast-growing South Asian region and create a dedicated express way for that region to connect to the US as well as Japan and North Asia,' Mr Barney said.

South Asian traffic at present heads to the US via the Philippines and Japan, a route that passes the area hit by the recent earthquakes. The eastbound route passing Taiwan has one of the busiest traffic flows in Asia because it is the closest distance for internet service providers and other communications carriers to connect to networks in South Korea, Japan and the US.

Another potential cable system hook-up for EAC Pacific is the 17,000km C2C undersea cable, which was also damaged by the Taiwan tremors.

Mr Barney said EAC Pacific had received committed funds worth US$636 million through its partners, investors and debt holders. Investors gave the go-ahead to the new cable system, which was being quietly planned by Asia Netcom, after the earthquakes disrupted communications in the region.

Asia Netcom will announce its EAC Pacific cable landing partners in the Philippines, Japan and the US in April.