SingTel's C2C to see profits by 2003?

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd expects its US$2 billion undersea cable venture to be profitable by March 2003 as demand for bandwidth in Asia increases.

SINGAPORE--Singapore Telecommunications Ltd expects its US$2 billion undersea cable venture to be profitable by March 2003 as demand for bandwidth in Asia increases.

Called C2C Pte Ltd, the outfit was launched last July with other partners such as Globe Telecom (the Philippines), GNG Networks Inc (South Korea), iAdvantage (Hong Kong), KDDI (Japan), New Century Infocomm Co (Taiwan), Norwest Venture Partners (the US) and Tycom Asia Networks (the US).

SingTel owns 60 percent of C2C, while the other shareholders own the remaining 40 percent stake.

"To date, C2C has sold over US$700 million worth of network capacity to carriers (globally), including SingTel, Globe Telecom, GNG Networks, KDDI and Tycom," said C2C chief operating officer Hoh Wing Chee in an interview.

The amount (US$700 million) also includes US$140 million which Vancouver-based 360networks Inc paid for network capacity, he added. 360networks had signed an initial contract worth US$800 million with C2C last June. However, 360networks could not pay the remaining US$660 million due to mounting debts. In fact, the firm laid off about 800 employees (or 44 percent of its staff) two months ago to contain costs.

Despite this, Hoh expects C2C to meet its US$900 million sales target by year end. "Many companies still need to do business in a recession."

He also expects C2C to be profitable by March 2003 as the capacity of existing cable networks in Asia--such as the Asia-Pacific Cable network (APCN) and Fibre-optic Link around the globe (FLAG)--get used up.

Today, the C2C cable network landed in Singapore, and the entire loop will be completed when the cable lands in Taiwan by the end of the month, said Hoh, who is also SingTel's vice president for International Network.

The entire network will span 17,000 km connecting the two countries and Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines and China.

The loop linking Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and China will begin operation by end-October, while the portion linking Singapore will start carrying commercial traffic by year end, he added.

Touted as one of the largest submarine cables in the world, the C2C cable network will have a capacity of 7.68 terabits per second--equivalent to 90 million simultaneous phone conversations.

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