New Trans-Pacific Submarine Cable Completed

A six-company consortium has completed the first phase of a new submarine cable that will connect the United States with China and Taiwan, allowing for faster telecommunications speeds between the U.S. and Asia, the companies announced Tuesday.

The Trans-Pacific Express (TPE) fiber-optic cable stretches 11,000 miles (over 18,000 km), and will offer 6T bits of bandwidth when fully completed.

Verizon Business, AT&T, Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom, and China Netcom, China Telecom and China Unicom -- the latter two of which are merging as part of China's telecom industry restructuring -- formed the TPE Submarine Cable Consortium in mid-December 2006 at a predicted cost of US$500 million. It is the first such cable to link the U.S. and Chinese mainlands directly.

The need for the cable was underscored just days after its initial announcement when a powerful earthquake on December 26, 2006, brought trans-Pacific telecommunications to a near halt. The undersea quake damaged or broke six submarine communications cables, causing disruptions in service for several days.

The companies did not say when they expect to complete phase two of the project.

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