A new undersea fiber-optic cable linking Japan and Russia went into service this week providing the first direct link between the two countries and an alternate cable route between Europe and Asia.
The Hokkaido-Sakhalin Cable System (HSCS) runs between the two islands, Japan's Hokkaido and Russia's Sakhalin, and has a capacity of 640G bps (bits per second). Construction of the 570 kilometer cable was carried out by Japan's NTT Communications and Russia's TransTeleCom Company and started and completed last year.
Until now traffic between Japan and Russia, which share a sea border in the Russian Far East, had to run via traditional cable routes through Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean to Europe. The new cable provides a shorter route and latency in NTT's backbone will be 20 percent to 30 percent shorter because of it, NTT said.
Additionally it provides a back-up route between Asia and Europe should a problem develop on existing undersea cables.
In December 2006 a series of strong earthquakes under the sea south of Taiwan caused several cables to be severed and blacked out Internet access in some parts of Asia. While service was quickly restored, telecom users in the region suffered several days of problems and Internet backbone traffic was disrupted for weeks until the cables were repaired.