Asian neighbours who fought a war in 1962 have found a new way to co-operate, with the launch of a cross-border cable link between Siliguri in West Bengal and Yadong in the Tibet Autonomous Region last week amid great fanfare. The collaborators - China Telecom and Reliance Globalcom, the international division of India's Reliance Communications - described the hundreds of kilometres of fibre optics through icy terrain at 4,400 metres above sea level as the new 'Silk Road', which will also benefit the economies of Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Han Yihua of China Telecom and Punit Garg of Reliance said the cable would cater to the voice, data and video connectivity needs of more than 2.2 billion citizens of India and China, two of the world's biggest growing markets. It has an initial capacity of 20 gigabytes per second, which will ultimately be expanded to 4.8 terabytes: hundreds of times the current bandwidth between the two countries. Telecommunications connectivity between the Asian giants has traditionally relied on submarine cables that connect Hong Kong, Singapore and India with telephone calls routed through Europe and the United States. It was claimed that unlike the existing network, the new link will not be a hostage to inclement weather and natural disasters. In December 2006, Hong Kong suffered widespread internet disruptions after the earthquake off the southern coast of Taiwan damaged undersea cables. Last year, India lost more than half its bandwidth when two undersea cables in the Mediterranean were cut. 'The cable has two major benefits,' Fabrizio Civitarese, Reliance Globalcom's vice-president for Asia, said. 'The obvious one is the direct connectivity between the two countries for wholesale and enterprise customers. 'The other is for redundancy, not just for India-China connectivity, but also it will be interconnected in India with our international submarine cable systems, and on the other end, it will be interconnected to China Telecom's submarine network as well as our own network in Hong Kong. 'This will form an additional diverse route to connect Asia-Europe or Europe-Middle East on one side and Asia-US West Coast on the other side,' he said. Mr Civitarese said the link was ready for service and that the two carriers had entered into a commercial agreement to offer one-stop-shop service over each other's networks. Mr Garg said that since India and China were the largest growing economies in the world, the economic environment required ever-increasing high-bandwidth and converged applications between them. 'The new cable will help our customers... to effectively compete on a global scale by providing increased network availability and secure connectivity from the world's key business centres to these high-growth markets,' he said.