Southeast Asian-US Consortium to Build Submarine Communications Cable


In an effort to boost internet speed and increase broadband capacity between the United States and Southeast Asia, a consortium of American and Asian companies are collaborating on one of the most ambitious telecommunications projects undertaken anywhere in recent years.

The submarine SEA-US cable would connect Southeast Asia to the US mainland along 9,000 miles from Monado in Indonesia to Hermosa Beach California, via Guam, and is designed to deliver and additional 20 terabytes per second using state-of-the-art 100GB transmission equipment. The route has been specifically chosen to avoid Southeast Asia’s earthquake-prone regions, which could cause damage to the cable and threaten broader communication capabilities.

The SEA-US submarine cable will travel from Monado, Indonesia to Hermosa Beach, California, via Guam and Hawai‘i. Image: PriMetrica, Inc.

Expected to be complete by the end of 2016, the project will cost an estimated $250 million, to be divided between the consortium’s seven members. These include RAM Telecom International (RTI), GTI Corporation, Telkom USA, and Hawaiian Telcom, all from the United States, Globe Telecom from the Philippines, PT Telekomunikasi of Indonesia, and Guam’s GTA Holdings. The special underwater cable is to be provided by Japan’s NEC Corporation.

The project will allow for increased internet-based commerce across the Pacific, promising American companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon greater access to the rapidly growing Asian market, while granting Asian consumers more reliable access to online services.

Southeast Asia has over 190 million internet users, many of which are located in Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The SEA-US cable will also provide an alternative route for this large volume of web traffic should unforeseen circumstances cause existing infrastructure to fail. The cable is also designed to integrate seamlessly with other existing submarine cables, including the Southeast Asia - Japan Cable System (SJC), Batam Singapore Cable System (BSCS) and the Thailand-Indonesia-Singapore cable (TIS).

Jonathan Gordon recently graduated from the University of Sydney and is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington, D.C.