Carriers plan US-Southeast Asia fiber cable link

Seventeen major telecommunications companies signed a pact to build a $500-million undersea fiber-optic cable between Southeast Asia and the US, which they claim will be relatively safe from earthquakes and tsunamis, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the link will offer 'a timely increase in both the capacity and diversity of Internet links between Asia and the US, bearing in mind the disruptions caused by the recent Taiwan earthquake,' according to Abdul Wahid Omar, CEO of Telekom Malaysia.

Telekom Malaysia, which is leading the consortium of companies, said construction of the 20,000-kilometer link would begin immediately, the report said.

It said it would be the first submarine cable system linking Southeast Asia directly to the US.

The fiber-optic cable, dubbed the Asia-America Gateway, will connect the US West Coast with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii, as well as offer 'seamless interconnection' for those locations with Europe, Africa and Australia, Telekom Malaysia said in a statement, according to the report.

The Associated Press report further said parties involved in the project included AT&T, the British Telecom Global Network Services, Eastern Communications Philippines, Bharti AirTel, CAT Telekom, Indonesia's Indosat and PT Telkom, Telecom New Zealand International, Singapore's StarHub and Australia's Telstra.

Alcatel-Lucent and NEC have been awarded the contract for the construction of the link, officials, quoted by the report, said.