Myanmar inks new subsea internet cable deal

At the end of March, Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) signed a contract to bring a new subsea Internet cable to Myanmar. Projected to be completed in early 2016, the cable should bring more stability to the country’s often teetering Internet connection.

MPT was one of 15 signatories at the construction contract signing ceremony in Kuala Lampur on March 7th. The planned 20,000 kilometer cable, officially known as the SEA-ME-WE-5 consortium cable system, will stretch from Singapore to France and land at 17 different countries along the way.

Internet users in Myanmar have grown accustomed to government announcements blaming recurring Internet slowdowns on disruptions to the country’s only subsea Internet cable, the similarly-named SEA-ME-WE 3.

The new cable will be able to transfer 100 Gigabits of information per second, and will provide a much needed backup option for sustained connectivity. For comparison, the current SEA-ME-WE 3 cable is capable of only 10 Gigabit per second.

SEA-ME-WE 5will land in the seaside town of Ngwe Saung before traveling to Pathein, Yangon, Mandalay, and up into China.

The new Internet cable could potentially be the first of several. In late January, 17 countries signed an agreement for another cable project known as Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1),which traces a similar route to SEA-ME-WE 5.

Some published maps for AAE-1 show Myanmar as a landing spot for the cable, while others omit the country altogether. When asked if they had joined the consortium, MPT said simply, “We are still deciding.”

MPT officials had announced plans to join the SEA-ME-WE 5 consortium in 2013, but many in the industry had cautioned against early optimism. Citing past discord among the consortium, as well as the high risks of building an expensive subsea fiberoptic cable, one Internet Engineer who wished to remain anonymous had even called the SEAMEWE-5 cable “dead in the water.”

The signing of the Construction and Maintenance Agreement in March, marks an important milestone in the construction of the cable and sets it on firm footing.

Japanese electronics giant NEC was awarded the contract to build the fiber-optic span between Singapore and Sri Lanka, while Alcatel-Lucent will build the piece from Sri Lanka to France.

Source: Myanmar Times

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