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MANILA, Philippines, January 31, 2011 – PLDT recently signed with leading telecommunication companies in Japan and Singapore a construction and maintenance agreement (C&MA) to build a US$430 million next generation high bandwidth optical fiber underwater cable system called Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE).
The 7,200-kilometer ASE system will link Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore. The system will also connect to Malaysia and potentially to Mainland China, as well as other Southeast Asian countries. The system is envisioned to provide seamless interconnection with other major cable systems connecting Europe, the Middle East, other parts of Asia, and the United States.
PLDT’s new cable landing station on the east coast of the Philippines will also provide enhanced network redundancy for superior telecommunications services for corporate, SME (small and medium enterprise), and retail broadband customers of PLDT and wireless subsidiary Smart Communications Inc.
The other parties who signed the ASE C&MA on January 27, 2011, in Tokyo were NTT Communications of Japan and StarHub of Singapore. Telekom Malaysia (TM) signed a separate agreement with NTT Communications today in Kuala Lumpur.
PLDT Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering and International Network Operations Genaro C. Sanchez, who signed the C&MA on behalf of PLDT, said the synergy of the industry leaders is essential in realizing ASE. As a result, PLDT will have additional bandwidth capacity via a new diverse route to further improve the resiliency of its international cable network in the Asia-Pacific region.
This will redound to the benefit of PLDT’s customers who need reliable and uninterrupted services. Sanchez said the ASE will answer the customers’ two-pronged demand for increased bandwidth and enhanced dependability.
NTT Communications, represented during the Tokyo signing ceremonies by Network Division Vice President Yukio Ito, handles the international network requirements of the NTT Group. The NTT Group ranks among the world’s largest telecommunications operators.
StarHub, represented by Chief Operating Officer Tan Tong Hai, is Singapore’s fully-integrated info-communications provider as well as the pioneer in “hubbing,” the ability to deliver unique integrated and converged services to all its customers.
ASE is designed to provide more than 15 Terabits capacity of field proven 40 Gigabits per second transmission technology and has the capability to incorporate 100Gbps optical technology in the future. This is expected to cater to the forecasted exponential growth in bandwidth requirements for new and revolutionary broadband applications such as IP, video, data, and other multimedia services.
Furthermore, the cable routes between the ASE terminal stations will cover the shortest possible distances to minimize latency. ASE will be installed along a route that will avoid as much as possible the critical earthquake prone area in the south of Taiwan.
Sanchez further stated that with the construction of a new cable station in the east coast of the Philippines, PLDT will be in a position to offer a highly resilient international network that is expected to survive natural disasters similar to the major earthquake in the Bashi channel in December 2006. The earthquake resulted in the temporary “isolation” of some countries from international communications.
If there will be problems such as multiple cable cuts in the Bashi Channel, Sanchez said, PLDT for example can divert PLDT traffic towards Japan and the United States, as well as corporate circuits normally routed via the west coast cable stations, viz. Batangas and La Union (where other cables systems such as APCN2 and AAG land), onto PLDT’s DFON and exit the new east coast cable station onto ASE.
The same route using PLDT’s DFON can also be used by other international carriers wishing to have protection via the Philippines for their traffic and circuits that are carried by cables passing through the Bashi channel. NTT Com and StarHub will be the first to benefit from the new terrestrial protection route via PLDT’s new east coast cable station, DFON and PLDT’s west coast stations.
“It will also address the upcoming retirement of older cables,” Sanchez added as he disclosed that the new system will carry commercial traffic beginning 3rd quarter of 2012.
ASE is being supplied jointly by NEC Corporation and FUJITSU Limited. The supply contract was signed on the same day that the ASE C&MA was signed.
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