NTT Communications Corporation (NTT Com), the ICT solutions and international communications business within the NTT Group, announced today that it has launched the Asia Pacific Gateway (APG), a high-bandwidth optical submarine cable network connecting regions and countries in the Asia. NTT Com has implemented the new service in partnership with major telecommunication carriers in each country: China Telecom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, KT, Starhub, LG Uplus, China Mobile, Viettel Corporation, Vietnam Telecom International, FP Telecom, Global Transit, and Facebook.
Figure 4 - APG Cable Map
Source: NTT Communications
The APG will increase data transmission capacity in the Asian region, improve connectivity between various regions and countries and improve redundancy by means of diverse routing.
With a total length of 10,400 km, the APG network leverages 100 Gbit/s optical transmission capabilities and digital coherent technology to deliver a capacity of more than 54 Tbit/s, the highest of any network in Asia.
The cable routing avoids areas prone to earthquakes and typhoons, and has connectivity points in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. See Figure 4 above for more information.
NTT Com has established two diverse landing points, one in the East and the other in the West of Japan for the APG and Pacific Crossing-1 (PC-1) submarine cable which connects between Japan and the U.S. having diverse route such as north and south routes. The company has also implemented diverse landing points in Hong Kong and Singapore for the APG and for the Asia Submarine-Cable Express (ASE), which was launched in August 2012 by NTT, PLDT (Philippines), Telekom Malaysia, and Starhub (Singapore).
Figure 5 - ASE & PC-1 Cable Map
Source: NTT Communications
NTT Com thereby operates totally diverse cable routes between the US West Coast and key economic hubs in Asia regions, offering even greater reliability and redundancy in its global network.
Another APG Consortium member, Korea Telecom (KT) said that the cable, which is capable of delivering data at a staggering speed of 60 Tbit/s (sic), will be used for a trial service of the fifth-generation (5G) mobile network. Oh Seong-mok, vice president of KT's network business division, said in the statement that APG, together with the transpacific New Cross Pacific (NCP) Cable System (China Telecom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, KT, China Mobile, Microsoft, Softbank Telecom) which is expected to be ready for service at the end of 2017, will allow KT to transmit high-definition broadcasts and virtual reality content across the world.
Figure 6 - NCP Cable Map
Adapted from: NTT Communications & Korea Telecom Press Releases
ANALYSIS: It has taken more than five years to bring the APG submarine cable system into operation. Even by consortium cable standards, this is an inordinately long time.
The problems faced by the APG consortium are reflected in a number of curious aspects. First, this cable project, for a long time, went by different names: APG, APCN-3, and NAC, suggesting that there were originally a number of initiatives which were eventually amalgamated into one cable project.
Second, although the supply contract with Japanese system supplier, NEC, was awarded in January 2011, with NTT Communications leading the consortium, both NTT-C and Korea Telecom only signed the Construction & Maintenance Agreement for this project in December 2011.
Third, despite NTT-C's involvement in a similar pan-regional Asia Pacific cable system, "ASE", NTT decided to invest in and lead the APG consortium as well.
NTT's divided attention between these two projects may be at the heart of the reason why it has taken so long to complete APG. Moreover, in addition to NTT-C with its own agenda, the APG Consortium consists of all three Chinese operators, the Taiwanese incumbent, a renegade trading arm of the notoriously difficult Malaysian incumbent, three inexperienced Vietnamese companies, and a global content provider. The potential for disagreement and politicking among the parties could not be greater!
Unfortunately, although APG uses 100 Gbit/s technology, the long gestation period for this cable means that it is highly likely that the system design suffers from some technical obsolescence when compared with more recent systems using the latest in coherent technology, making APG a "lame-duck" system.
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Julian Rawle, Author
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