May 1, 2007

New Fiber Optic Cable Between U.S. and Asia Under Construction

The advent of the Internet has brought a completely new dimension to globalization, but the system isn’t perfect. Last December, an undersea earthquake off the coast of Taiwan disrupted Internet cables, causing communications to be down for several days. A new pact formed last week between 17 major telecommunications companies hopes to avoid a repeat of that situation with plans to complete a $500 million undersea fiber optic cable between Southeast Asia and the U.S., which they claim will be relatively safe from natural disasters.

The project is called the Asia-America Gateway and will span 12,428-miles, connecting the western U.S. with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii. Telekom Malaysia is leading the band of 16 other companies and says the connection will “provide an alternative and a more secure link for traffic from the region to the U.S.A. ... This low-risk route was designed to avoid the volatile and hazardous Pacific Ring, thus mitigating the effects from natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.”

Alcatel-Lucent and NEC have been awarded the contract for the development of the link. The fiber optic cable is already under construction and is projected to begin operating in December 2008.

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