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Singtel to build $300 million submarine cable system to link Southeast Asian economies

The cable will connect Singapore and Hong Kong SAR with the Philippines, Brunei, and Hainan in China

Singtel and five regional carriers are set to build a $300 million submarine cable network known as the Asia Link Cable System (ALC).

The consortium is co-led by Singtel and China Telecom Global Limited (CTG) and is made up of four other regional carriers: China Telecommunications Corporation (CTC), Globe Telecom, Inc. (Globe) and DITO Telecommunity Corporation (DITO) of the Philippines, and Unified National Networks Sdn Bhd (UNN) of Brunei.

The group will build a 6,000km submarine cable system, expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2025. The system aims to support Southeast Asia’s economic growth by connecting Hong Kong SAR and Singapore, with the Philippines, Brunei and Hainan, China. The companies added that demand for high-bandwidth, low latency, and high redundancy internet connectivity is rising in the region, with its digital economy forecast to reach $363 billion by 2025.

The ALC will contain eight fibre pairs that can transmit up to 18 terabits per second per fibre pair, which the group said is the same as downloading over 2,500 hours of ultra high-definition video per second. It’s also expected to add more capacity and route diversity to existing networks, and bolster resiliency for international internet traffic through Southeast Asia.

"Southeast Asia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, with rising digital demand from consumers and businesses, accelerated by the pandemic,” said Bill Chang, chief executive officer of Group Enterprise and Regional Data Centre Business at Singtel. “Consumers and Businesses are increasingly relying on services and solutions that require higher-bandwidth and lower-latency connectivity for their work, studies or entertainment."

The ALC will also adopt the open cable system design, which aims to reduce dependency on any single provider consortium partner and ensure timely capacity upgrades can be implemented to meet carriers’ needs.

A map showing where the cable will be installed and what countries it will connect

Singtel

Singtel underlined that submarine cables are critical information infrastructure, with nearly 100% of all international data traffic that companies consume being transported and routed daily through undersea cables on the ocean floor.

The Singaporean telco also revealed in February 2022 it had invested in a 19,200km submarine cable system connecting Southeast Asia to Europe through the Middle East. The system is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2025.

The regional telcos aren’t the only companies constructing a submarine cable in the Asia Pacific region. In August 2021, Google revealed it would build an undersea internet cable system to connect Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore, using 7,456 miles of cable. Known as Project Apricot, it also involves Meta which has funded part of the project.

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