LEADING telecommunications provider Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) said it is targeting to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a consortium of telcos on its plan to invest between $50 million and $100 million on a second Asia-America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable system and that it plans to construct a new cable landing station either in Daet, Camarines Sur or in Batangas.
The telecom provider looking at “Asia-America Gateway (AAG) number 2 cable, but we’re still in the planning stage,” Genaro Sanchez, PLDT vice president for international network, said in a phone interview.
He said no initial investment has been decided yet. “The amounts of between $50 million $100 million are just ballpark,” he said.
“We target to sign the MOU within the year,” he said. Asked which companies PLDT will be signing an MOU with, he said, “Actually it is really a consortium of telcos.”
PLDT has a stake in the first AAG submarine cable system built, the first direct Terabit submarine cable network spanning 20,000 km between Southeast Asia and the United States.
The AAG submarine cable system connects Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Guam, Hawaii, and California, with PLDT being the landing party in the Philippines.
The company’s first AAG submarine cable system landing station is in the province of Bauang, La Union.
PLDT said that the planned expansion of its international bandwidth capacity to the US is intended to support rising demand for high-speed broadband.
Earlier, PLDT president Napoleon Nazareno said the incremental capacity from this project will allow PLDT to support more industry requirements as well as enhance the quality of experience of customers of the PLDT Group.
PLDT invested $2 million in the cable upgrade of the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) that doubled the bandwidth capacity of the only trans-Pacific cable linking Southeast Asia and the Philippines to the US.
Last year, PLDT partnered with Hong Kong’s PCCW Global to undertake a new international fiber optic project that aims to improve PLDT’s connectivity in 17 countries across four continents.
The Asia-Africa-Europe 1 (AAE-1) Cable System project aims to increase PLDT’s international bandwidth capacity and raise the resiliency of its overseas links as it enhances the quality of data and internet connection for its customers.
The 25,000-kilometer undersea cable network system that will connect Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, and Europe will use 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps) technology with minimum capacity use of 10 Gbps.
Nazareno earlier said, “The AAE-1 Cable System will provide network diversity and resiliency which is a great enabler in delivering quality service to our customers.”
He said a highly resilient international network should survive man-made and natural disasters such as undersea quakes which, in some instances, cause the “isolation” of countries from the rest of the world.
Investing in international submarine cables
Scheduled for completion in 2016, the AAE-1 will connect the Philippines to 17 international destinations, namely France, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Djibouti, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.
AAE-1 will further enhance the PLDT Group’s capability to offer its customers the latest bandwidth-heavy broadband applications that require international access, such as IP-based data, external video content, and other multimedia services.
Once operational, AAE-1 will enable PLDT and its group of companies, including Smart Communications and Sun Cellular, to serve the ever-increasing bandwidth requirements of their combined customer base.
It will benefit businesses from large corporations and multinational companies, to small and medium enterprises to individual homes where the internet is a most valued and useful tool for every member of the family.
For the past years, PLDT has been investing in international submarine cables in the Asia-Pacific region, establishing direct connections to the US Mainland and covering a majority of its total international capacity.
The investment in AAE-1 forms part of PLDT’s capex for 2014 estimated at between P30 billion and P32 billion.
In 2013, PLDT and its partners completed the construction of the Asia Submarine-Cable Express (ASE), the largest-capacity international submarine cable system in the Philippines with a landi ng station located in Daet, Camarines Norte.
The other international cable systems that PLDT landed in the Philippines are the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) and the Southeast Asia-Middle East-West Europe 3 (SEA-ME-WE3) both landing in Nasugbu, Batangas, and the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) that lands in Bauang, La Union.
Once completed, AAE-1 will be part of PLDT’s global network of 15 international cable systems, bringing its total international capacity to nearly 2 Terabits per second (Tbps).
PLDT said that the new cable system will facilitate the PLDT Group’s growth and expansion, allowing it to serve more customers not only in the country but in Europe and the Middle East as well.