Alcatel-Lucent, NEC to build new cable

The Asia-America Gateway undersea cable will connect Southeast Asia directly to the United States, and hopefully minimize Internet disruptions in the seismically active region.

Alcatel-Lucent and NEC will jointly deploy the Asia America Gateway (AAG), a high-bandwidth optical fiber submarine cable system linking Southeast Asia to the United States.

According to a statement Friday, Alcatel-Lucent and NEC will design, manufacture, install, integrate and commission the AAG network, which will span 20,000km. The network will cost US$500 million to build and is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.

First mooted in June 2006, the AAG will complement existing cable systems like the APCN2 (Asia Pacific Cable Network) and the Japan-US Cable Network which currently connect the Southeast Asia region to North America via North Asia and pass through areas most prone to seismic activity.

In December 2006, an earthquake off Taiwan measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale damaged seven submarine cable systems including the APCN2 and Asia Netcom's East Asia Crossing. Although Internet communications across Asia suffered a complete blackout or severe network congestion, services were quickly restored in a few days.

In a separate release Friday, Singapore's StarHub became the latest telco to join the 17-member AAG consortium. The telco will manage and operate a cable landing station in Singapore, connecting the island-state to the AAG.

Other operators in the AAG consortium include AT&T in the United States, Bharti in India, CAT Telekom in Thailand, Eastern Telecommunications in the Philippines, PT Indosat in Indonesia, PCP in Cambodia, Saigon Postel Corporation in Vietnam, Telstra in Australia, Telkom Indonesia and Telekom Malaysia, among others.

The AAG submarine cable system, which can support about 130,000 high-definition television (HDTV) signals simultaneously, is designed to provide a capacity of up to 1.92 terabits per second of data bandwidth. It is also upgradeable to meet future growth in bandwidth requirements for new broadband applications such as video, data, and other multimedia services.