Overland cable connects India and China

Reliance Globalcom's new terrestrial cable connecting India and China, aims to reduce latency and provide redundancy in case of subsea cable break.

A new overland cable connecting India and China is ready for service, Reliance Globalcom has announced.

The terrestrial cable, laid in a joint project with China Telecom, is expected to reduce latency for data traffic within and going out of Asia, by shortening the route taken and reducing points of handover.

Fabrizio Civitarese, Asia-Pacific vice president, Reliance Globalcom, said in a call with ZDNet Asia, data traffic between Asia and the United States is currently routed through submarine cable networks passing Hong Kong and Singapore. A connection from Los Angeles to India would typically pass through these points.

The overland cable, on the other hand, provides "the most direct route" over the China-India border, bypassing Asia's subsea networks, he said. Traffic from India can now go directly to Hong Kong before getting on submarine routes out of the region.

Diversity for redundancy
He said the decision to build the terrestrial cable was not prompted by traffic overloads, but that to provide diversity to existing systems. Noting the recent cable cut which took out connections in the Asia-Pacific region, he said the terrestrial cable, which takes a different route, will avoid the undersea turbulence which disrupted the subsea ACPN2 (Asia-Pacific Cable Network 2) system.

Terrestrial cables are also comparably easier to repair, he added, saying that subsea cables to Singapore pass the Strait of Malacca, which sees heavy naval traffic.

Igor Kelshev, senior vice president of international operations for Russian telco, TTK, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview the presence of a lot of ship traffic and high density of subsea cables around such passage ways, including the Suez Canal, increases the likelihood of cable disturbances.

He said the "majority of Asia-Pacific cables are threatened by unpredictable and violent seismic activity" around Taiwan's Bashi Strait, as well.

"Disasters offshore Taiwan over the past few years have highlighted the need to diversify. The density of seabed cable systems is just so thick these days that it is very difficult to combat cable cuts more effectively," he said.

Reliance Globalcom is the global telecoms service provider arm of Indian telco, Reliance Communications.

Rival Indian telco, Tata Communications, too recently announced the completion of another subsea cable system. The TGN-Intra Asia (TGN-IA) cable connects Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Vietnam and the Philippines, and is aimed at facilitating connections within the Asia-Pacific region.

Like Reliance's overland cable, Tata chose to take a different route, in hopes of avoiding natural disasters, such as the 2006 Taiwan quake which took out the ACPN2. It goes through the south of the Luzon Straits in order to avoid the quake zone around Taiwan, Tata told ZDNet Asia recently.

While natural disasters cannot be avoided, work can be done to educate maritime companies on preventing cable cuts, noted Kelshev. These can be done by better planning shipping routes, to minimize accidental cuts due to human activity, he said.