New Intra-Asia Express Cable Announced

The new cable will go from Japan, to the Philippines and also connect Kuching in Sarawak before landing in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.By Alexander Wong: SoyaCincau
November 3, 2021

During yesterday’s live debate on the cabotage issue, Transport Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong has shared some “good news” for Malaysians with regards to digital connectivity. Despite the ongoing cabotage issue, he revealed that an upcoming Intra-Asia Express subsea cable project will connect Japan to Malaysia as well as Singapore.

As shared during a recorded conference call, NTT Vice President Mr Yoshio Sato said the new subsea cable will start from Japan, connecting the Philippines and it will also connect Kuching in Sarawak before landing in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Mr Sato said in the call that he needs a big help from Dr Wee Ka Siong to achieve the project.

According to the slide, the project which is currently in the planning phase is expected to be handled by a consortium of 3 or 4 carriers. The laying of the cable is done in a way to avoid disputed territorial waters and it will consist of 16 to 20FP (Fibre Pairs).

During the debate, the transport minister referred NTT as the owner of the Apricot cable. He said the upcoming project undersea cable that is planned to pass through Sabah and Sarawak will benefit the country as well as the MyDigital agenda.

The Minister said he wants to bring in investments and expedite negotiations between NTT, Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Therefore, he told Lim Guan Eng not to accuse his ministry of blocking foreign investments.

The Apricot subsea cable project was first announced by Facebook and Google in August 2021 and the 12,000km cable is expected to launch in 2024 with an initial design capacity of more than 190Tbps. The cable connects Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore, but not Malaysia. When the cable was announced, NTT was mentioned as a member of a five-party cable consortium that is leading the construction and maintenance of the optical submarine cable and NTT will be responsible for operating and managing a number of sites for the system.

To debunk accusations that the cabotage policy had caused Malaysia to be bypassed by Apricot, the Transport Minister also shared a video of Mr Sato explaining that the subsea project was planned in 2017 and Malaysia was not part of the plan. However, there will be another subsea cable called Mist which will connect Singapore to India, and it will land in Malaysia. Mist along with Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE), Asia Pacific Gateway (APG), Pacific Crossing-1 (PC-1) and Jupiter will connect with Apricot to provide diverse routes and links to major Asian cities as well as the United States.

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