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Monday January 16, 2012

Staying connected

TELEPHONE users in Perak and Penang were linked via a relatively simple undersea cable as far back as 1882, a mere eight years after the first telephone was introduced in Perak.

Twelve years later in 1894, a submarine cable linked Labuan in Sabah, with Singapore and Hong Kong. In 1980, Malaysia commissioned its own submarine cable linking Kuantan with Kuching that enabled a smooth transmission of data across the South China Sea.

Since the advent of data communications, many more submarine cables had been built in our territorial waters to connect Malaysia with the rest of the world.

In 2001, Telekom Malaysia (TM) became a major partner in the launch of the (then) state-of-the-art submarine cable called the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2. It has gone on to join a few more consortia since then to build submarine cables.

Currently, TM owns or leases capacity on more than 10 submarine cable systems, which span more than 96,600 fibre-route kilometres around the globe, including several submarine cable routes that the company uses to carry traffic between Asia Pacific and North America.

TM’s wholly owned company Cahaya Malaysia is currently laying a cable spanning 7,000km that will link Malaysia to Hong Kong and Japan.

The cable system, which is part-owned by TM, will be utilising the Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technology with a design capacity of 15Tbps (Terabits per second).

The first phase of the cable system, linking us to Japan, will be completed by the middle of this year, while the second phase that connects us to Hong Kong is expected to be completed by yearend.

Two of the six fibre pairs to be laid will be owned by TM to cater for demand to Hong Kong and Japan, while Japan’s NTT Com owns the remaining four fibre pairs which they plan to develop in collaboration with other regional carriers to provide landing points in the Philippines and Singapore.

The cable will also provide an alternative routing within the Asia-Pacific region to avoid areas prone to seismic activities, which threaten undersea cables.

Last August, Symphonet, a start-up in ICT business, declared that it would lay two cables from Peninsular Malaysia – one to Indonesia’s Java island, and the other to Vungtau, Vietnam. Currently, Peninsular Malaysia’s only link with Indonesia is a cable connecting Malacca with Dumai in Sumatra.

According to Symphonet CEO Datuk Baharum Salleh, cable laying works for the Johor-Jakarta portion (1,200km) should start by the middle of this year. The company says it aims to make broadband more accessible and affordable to all Malaysians.

According to Baharum, the current pricing mechanism for broadband access is not attractive and uncompetitive, compared with other developed markets. Hence his company’s decision to offer more alternatives by building a new cable.

*TM’s links with the global network can be found at coverage.html

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Going further with fibre optics
Service via the seas