PLDT opens link to new $400-M fiber cable system

Dominant carrier PLDT announced on Tuesday, Aug. 14, that it has formally activated its link to the $400-million Asia Submarine-Cable Express (ASE) optical fiber cable system with a landing station located in Daet, Camarines Norte.

PLDT president and CEO Napoleon Nazareno (left) and PLDT executive vice president Eric Alberto

In a press briefing, top PLDT executives said the ASE, which was completed on Aug. 10, is the largest-capacity international submarine cable system ever to land in the Philippines.

PLDT is part of the consortium that built that the fiber cable system with a $55-million contribution. Among the members of the ASE consortium are NTTCom of Japan, StarHub of Singapore, and TM of Malaysia. The submarine cable system was supplied by NEC Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd.

The ASE is PLDT’s third overseas link. The Daet facility is also its third landing station after those established in La Union (for Asia-America Gateway) and Batangas (for Asia Pacific Cable Network 2).

With the link-up to the ASE, PLDT said it has now more than doubled its international bandwidth capacity. The 7,200-kilometer undersea cable network uses 40 Gigabits per second (Gbps) technology that is upgradeable to 100 Gbps, with a minimum design capacity of 15 Terabits.

“This is good for the local BPO industry and for the country,” said PLDT President and CEO Napoleon L. Nazareno. “We’re ready for data explosion.”

The ASE provides a direct cable connection from the Philippines to Japan that avoids the earthquake-prone seas south of Taiwan which the cable systems of other carriers pass through.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake off the southwest coast of Taiwan in December 2006 damaged several undersea cables, disrupting telecoms services in several Asian countries, including the Philippines.

The ASE system initially links Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore through a fiber optic cable. In the next phases, it can be expanded to other Asian countries, such as China, Vietnam and Indonesia. The ASE can also be connected to other major cable systems to Europe, the Middle East, the other parts of Asia, and the US.

Nazareno said that with ASE, PLDT and its group of companies, including Smart and Sun Cellular, can now serve the increasing international bandwidth requirements of their combined customer base.

“We can also expand our broadband services with new bandwidth-heavy applications requiring international access such as IP-based data, external video content and other external multimedia services,” he added.

“The ASE landing station located in Daet, Camarines Norte will be the only landing station in the east coast of the Philippines,” PLDT EVP and head of enterprise and international and carrier business Ernesto R. Alberto said.

“This will definitely be a boon for enterprise clients who demand resiliency in their operations such as banks, semiconductor firms, call centers, and BPO companies among others, as well as small and medium enterprises that do business through the internet.”

Jovy Hernandez, PLDT VP and head of PLDT Alpha Enterprise and Smart Enterprise sales and marketing, said the company now operates the most number of cable landing stations among the telco operators in the country.

He also noted that the three landing stations will be interconnected to enable capacity rerouting for greater resiliency in PLDT’s international network.

The start of cable laying work for ASE was marked by a ceremony in November last year in the landing station in Bicol.

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