New Trans-Pacific undersea cable completed.

Six of the world’s biggest telecommunications companies have completed the construction of the Trans-Pacific Express, a fiber optic cable system across the Pacific. It will directly link the U.S., China, South Korea and Taiwan.

Initial carriers investing in TPE were China NetCom, China Telecom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, Korea Telecom and Verizon Business; AT&T and NTT Communications signed on earlier this year. The addition of NTT also added a cable landing site to Japan, making for a total of six sites – one in Japan, two in mainland China, and one each in Taiwan, South Korea, and the U.S.

Initially the cable will be configured to handle traffic at 1.28 terabits per second (Tbps), but the system has design capacity of up to 5.12Tbps. Customers can also book individual connections running at 10Gbps. Korea Telecom, South Korea’s largest fixed-line and broadband service provider, led the $500 million project which was signed in December 2006 by Verizon Communications; KT Corp., China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom and Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom. Under terms of the arrangement, the project’s $500 million cost was divided roughly evenly among the six partners.

The 18,000 kilometer undersea cable will offer an alternative to the single low-capacity cable that now provides the only direct link between mainland China and the U.S. Currently, most Web traffic between the two countries has to go through Hong Kong or Japan, at times causing transmission delays.

Verizon said in 2006 that the new cable system is designed to handle the equivalent of 62 million simultaneous phone conversations, more than 60 times the overall capacity of the China-U.S. cable at the time, which can handle the equivalent of 1 million simultaneous phone conversations.

Press Release: Next-Generation Trans-Pacific Express Submarine Cable System Is Ready for Service.

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