Telecommunications Companies Join to Install Cables from Singapore to Europe

SINGAPORE – A consortium of 15 international telecommunications companies have agreed to install a 20,000 km system of cables running under the sea from Singapore to France, across 17 countries. The companies signed the agreement last Friday in Malaysia.

The project is known as the Sea-Me-We 5, referring to the regions involved — Southeast Asia, Middle East, Western Europe —and indicating that this is the consortium’s fifth project. The cable will link up Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Djibuti, Yemen, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Italy. Traffic can originate or terminate from the Points-of-Presence (POPs) in Singapore, France (Marseilles) and Italy (Palermo).

Alcatel-Lucent and NEC were the two companies awarded the contract to build the cable system. NEC will be responsible for laying the links in Asia, from Sri Lanka to Singapore, while Alcatel-Lucent will lay the western route from France to Sri Lanka. Although the price of the contract has not been released, it is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

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When complete, the cable system will provide faster and better quality internet and data service to businesses and consumers in the countries involved. The fiber-optic cables will incorporate state-of-the-art 100 gigabits per second technology, and will be capable of carrying 24 Terabits per second when fully loaded.

“With significant growth in data traffic in recent years, SEA-ME-WE 5 will address the urgent need for a new generation data superhighway to cater to the increasing demand for next generation Internet applications,” Bill Chang, CEO of SingTel, commented in a news release.

“It will also ease the strain on the heavily-loaded networks that currently connect Western Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia as well as offer an extra layer of network diversity.” Currently, much traffic from Southeast Asia to Europe is dependent on the network through the U.S., and so is vulnerable to disruptions caused by earthquakes or tsunamis in the Pacific region.

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The Chinese and Southeast Asian members of the consortium consist of China Mobile, China Telecom Global, China United Network Communications Group Company, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications, Singtel, TOT Public Company (Thailand’s state-owned telecommunications company), PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International, and Telekom Malaysia Berhad.

The remaining members are Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications, Orange, Saudi Telecom Company, Sri Lanka Telecom, Telecom Italia Sparkle and Yemen International Telecommunications.

The system is expected to be operational by early 2016.

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