20,000km undersea cable to link Singapore to Europe

The new 100Gbps fiber-optic link will open up international communications for 15 telecommunications companies and protect against severed cables or other problems.

A sea plow towed behind a ship is used to lay undersea fiber-optic cables.
A sea plow towed behind a ship is used to lay undersea fiber-optic cables. Alcatel-Lucent

The Sea-Me-We 5 consortium, a group of 15 telecommunications companies, has awarded Alcatel-Lucent and NEC a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to lay an undersea cable that will bring a high-speed network link between Europe and Singapore and points in between.

The South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe (Sea-Me-We) consortium is funding the 20,000-kilometer (12,400 miles) cable, the fifth such project for the consortium. This one will bring a 100-gigabit-per-second link, Alcatel-Lucent said Friday.

The consortium consists of the Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company, China Mobile, China Telecom Global, China United Network Communications Group Company, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications, Orange, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications, Saudi Telecom Company, SingTel, Sri Lanka Telecom, TOT, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International, Telecom Italia Sparkle, Telekom Malaysia Berhad, and Yemen International Telecommunications (TeleYemen).

Alcatel-Lucent will lay the western stretch from Europe to Sri Lanka, with spurs leading to Sicily, Pakistan, India, and various Middle Eastern countries. NEC will handle an eastern segment from there to Singapore, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia, the company said.

Undersea cables are expensive, but they open up international network bottlenecks and make it easier to route around problems such as an earlier cable being severed.

Alcatel-Lucent lays cable using a "sea plow" towed behind a ship that can lay cable at depths up to 1,500 meters (nearly 5,000 feet). They can lay cable at a rate of 5 to 35 kilometers per day (3 to 22 miles).

Updated at 12:06 p.m. PT to add NEC's involvement.

Dozens of undersea network cables connect cities, countries, and continents.
Dozens of undersea network cables connect cities, countries, and continents. Alcatel-Lucent

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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