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$500M Undersea Cable System to Link US, Southeast Asia
May 2007
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, May 1, 2007 -- A consortium of 17 international telecommunications companies will build the first high-bandwidth undersea fiber optic cable linking southeast Asia with the western US, it was announced on Friday. The cable system, known as the Asia-America Gateway (AAG), is expected to cost $500 million.

A signing ceremony to establish the system was held on Friday. The 20,000-km (approximately 12,400-mile) AAG system will connect the west coast of the US to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, Guam and Hawaii. It will also interconnect those countries to other regions like Europe, Australia, Africa and other parts of Asia, officials said, and compliment existing cable systems like the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN 2) & Japan-US Cable Network currently connecting to North America via North Asia.

The cable system will avoid the volatile Pacific Ring to lessen the likelihood it will be affected by earthquakes and tsunamis, officials said. In December, two powerful earthquakes off Taiwan and the subsequent aftershocks snapped undersea fiber optic cables and created one of the biggest telecom outages the region has seen for years (See "Telecom in Asia Slowly Recovering After Quakes").

The consortium is led by Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) and the project is spearheaded by TM along with AT&T Inc., Bharti AirTel (India), Government of Brunei Darussalam, British Telecom Global Network Services, CAT Telekom (Thailand), Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc., Indosat (Indonesia), Pacific Communications Pte Ltd (Cambodia), Philippines Long Distance Telephone Co., PT Telkom (Indonesia), Saigon Postal Corp. (Vietnam), StarHub (Singapore), Telstra (Australia), Telecom New Zealand International, Vietnam's Viettel and Vietnam Post & Telecommunications Group.

"The AAG will provide a timely increase in both the capacity and diversity of Internet links between Asia and the US, bearing in mind the disruptions caused by the recent Taiwan earthquake late last year. When it begins operations, Internet users can look forward to faster and more reliable international connectivity," said Abdul Wahid Omar, Group CEO of TM, in a statement.

The system is designed to ultimately provide a bandwidth capacity of up to 1.92 Terabits per second of data and will initially have a capacity of 480 Gb/s. The AAG uses dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology, which enables it to provide upgradeable future proof transmission facilities that support Internet and e-commerce traffic, officials said.

The AAG is expected to begin carrying commercial traffic by December 2008. Its completion is scheduled to coincide with the retirement of the first-generation Asia Pacific Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) cable systems like the APCN and Trans Pacific Cable (TPC-5) systems, officials said.

The contract for constructing cable system was awarded to Alcatel Submarine Network (ASN) and NEC Corp.

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