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New $300M subsea cable network to link Southeast Asia, China

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(Source: Singtel)

Six carriers have teamed up to build a $300 million subsea cable system that seeks to boost connectivity between Southeast Asia and China. Spanning 6,000 kilometres, the network will link up Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei, the Philippines, and China. 

Called the Asia Link Cable (ALC) system, the cable network is expected to be competed by the third quarter of 2025, according to Singtel, which jointly leads the consortium with China Telecom Global. The group also comprises the Philippines’ Globe Telecom and DITO Telecommunity, Brunei’s Unified National Networks, and China Telecommunications. 

Singtel said in a statement Tuesday the new subsea system would cater to demand for low latency and high bandwidth as Southeast Asia’s digital economies and online population continued to expand. 

The region’s digital economy is projected to hit $200 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) this year, according to this year’s e-Conomy SEA report jointly released by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company. The projection is three years ahead of earlier estimates, with demand for online services fuelled by the global pandemic.

The Southeast Asian digital economy also is expected to grow twice as fast as overall GDP through to 2030, when it is projected to hit $1 trillion in GMV. Some 460 million internet users currently reside across six markets across the region, covering Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. 

According to Singtel, the new subsea system will comprise eight fibre pairs capable of transmitting up to 18Tbps per fibre pair. This is the equivalent of downloading more than 2,500 hours of ultra high-definition video per second, the Singapore telco said. 

Further touted to widen route diversity to existing networks, the ALC network will be built on an open cable system design that Singtel said will reduce dependency on any one provider within the consortium. 

The Singapore telco also is part of the consortium behind the 19,200km Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 6 submarine cable system, which will connect several markets between Singapore and France after it is completed in the first quarter of 2025.

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