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Tata to Upgrade Asian Undersea Cable Ahead of Schedule

Tata Communications is planning to increase the capacity of its Asian undersea cable to accommodate enterprise customers in the region, a company executive said on Thursday.

The upgrade will be done this year rather than next year as originally planned, said Ariane Moyes, Tata Communications' vice president for global transmission services, in a telephone interview.

Customers are interested in the cable since it sits away from the earthquake zone around Taiwan. Its low latency -- about 63 milliseconds between Singapore and Japan -- has also attracted customers, Moyes said.

Undersea landslides caused by Typhoon Morakot and seismic activity caused some cables to go down around Taiwan this month.

Tata Communications' undersea cable was unaffected, however, because the company deliberately routed the cable to avoid areas prone to earthquakes and other hazardous areas, Moyes said.

The company accelerated by a few days the commissioning of its branch to Hong Kong after a surge in demand when other cable systems went down, she added.

Moyes did not disclose how much capacity the company will be adding in the next upgrade, saying that the issue was still under discussion within the company.

The current capacity of the cable is 650 Gbps (Giga bits per second), which is shared across Tata Communications and its partners, Moyes added. Tata Communications has 230 Gbps of this capacity for its own network use.

The 6,700-kilometer cable, called the TGN-Intra Asia (TGN-IA) Cable System, went into operation in February and was designed to alleviate traffic bottlenecks between Singapore and Japan, Moyes said.

Using cable capacity from India to Singapore, and cables in the Pacific Ocean from the company's July 2005 acquisition of Tyco Global Network, Tata Communications can now link customers from India through to North America, Moyes added.

Tata Communications designed the system to have branching units close to those countries recognizing the potential business from countries around the path of the TGN-IA cable, according to Moyes.

"We then looked for likely partners within those countries that would be able to build onto the TGN-IA system," she added.

Tata Communications has partnered with Globe Telecom to expand the cable system into the Philippines and with EVN Telecom to expand to Vietnam. While the Philippines branch is already in operation, the Vietnam branch is likely to go online by the end of this year.

The company plans similar partnerships with other operators to serve other countries in the region including Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand, Moyes said.

The partners invest on the branches into their respective countries. The model, besides helping share capital costs on the cable, also gives access to local partners who will work with Tata Communications in offering services in emerging markets, Moyes added.

By October, Tata Communications is planning to bring online a cable system that connects its landing station in Guam to Australia. The cable system will also be connected to TGN-IA and will serve Australian enterprise customers.

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