HKT to construct submarine cable system linking Tseung Kwan O and Chai Wan data centres

Telecoms giant sees proposed Ultra Express Link helping build up Hong Kong’s credentials as regional data centre hub

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 7:54pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 11:05pm

HKT, the largest telecommunications network operator in Hong Kong, plans to build a super high-capacity, submarine fibre-optic cable system that will connect Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate to Chai Wan from the second half of next year.

The proposed Ultra Express Link is expected to meet the rising demand from data centre operators in the city for more high-speed and high-capacity fibre-optic infrastructure, senior HKT executives told the South China Morning Post.

Alexander Arena, group managing director at HKT, said on Tuesday that development of the new metropolitan submarine cable system would bolster Hong Kong’s efforts to become a regional data centre hub.

“HKT is the only [telecommunications network] operator to provide full diversity with different options of cable route across Hong Kong,” Arena said. “We have full fibre coverage in all data centres in Hong Kong, particularly with diversity paths in all data centres in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate.”

Measuring three kilometres long, the Ultra Express Link was designed to deliver fast and direct connectivity between the major data centres located at Tseung Kwan O in the New Territories and those at Chai Wan in Hong Kong island.

Peter Lam Wing-chap, the managing director of engineering at HKT, said the new cable system is the company’s most sophisticated fibre-optic project to date, but declined to provide the amount of investment being made.

We have full fibre coverage in all data centres in Hong Kong
Alexander Arena, group managing director at HKT

Data centres are secure facilities built to house large-capacity servers and data storage systems, with multiple power sources and high-bandwidth internet connections. These facilities are used to host so-called cloud computing operations, which enable companies to distribute software and other digital resources online like electricity from a power grid.

Major data centre operations in Tseung Kwan O include those run by NTT Communications Corp, Telstra, China Mobile, China Unicom, HKColo, Digital Realty, Global Switch and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

HKColo also operates Sino Favour Centre in Chai Wan, where SuneVision subsidiary iAdvantage has its Mega-i data centre.

Lam said current work on the Ultra Express Link included obtaining government permits for cable landing stations at the Tseung Kwan O industrial estate and at Siu Sai Wan in Chai Wan.

The system would serve as HKT’s fourth fibre optic link crossing Victoria Harbour, after its infrastructure inside the Western, Eastern and Cross-Harbour tunnels.

Lam said HKT’s first domestic undersea fibre optic cable system was built in 1993, which connected Kennedy Town to Peng Chau island.

Data from HKT showed it spent US$74 million in the first half of this year on fibre optic development in the city.

Jabez Tan, research director at Structure Research, said earlier this year that “there is still plenty of runway for the Hong Kong data centre market”, as he estimated space utilisation at local facilities was over 50 per cent.