FEBRUARY 27, 2008 -- A consortium of six international companies announced they have executed agreements to build a high-bandwidth, subsea fiber-optic cable linking the United States and Japan. The construction of the new trans-Pacific infrastructure will cost an estimated $300 million.
The new cable system -- named Unity -- will address broadband demand by providing much needed capacity to sustain the unprecedented growth in data and Internet traffic between Asia and the United States. Unity is expected to initially increase trans-Pacific lit cable capacity by about 20%, with the potential to add up to 7.68 Tbits/sec of bandwidth across the Pacific.
The Unity consortium is a joint effort by Bharti Airtel, Global Transit, Google, KDDI Corp., Pacnet, and SingTel. The name Unity was chosen to signify a new type of consortium, born out of potentially competing systems, to emerge as a system within a system, offering ownership and management of individual fiber pairs, the consortium says.
The five-fiber-pair cable system can be expanded up to eight fiber pairs, with each fiber pair capable of carrying up to 960 Gbits/sec. By having a high fiber count, Unity is able to offer more capacity at lower unit costs.
According to the 2007 TeleGeography Global Bandwidth Research, trans-Pacific bandwidth demand has grown at a compounded annual growth rate of 63.7% between 2002 and 2007. It is expected to continue this growth from 2008 to 2013, with total demand for capacity doubling roughly every two years.
"The Unity cable system allows the members of the consortium to provide the increased capacity needed as more applications and services migrate online, giving users faster and more reliable connectivity," says Unity spokesperson Jayne Stowell.
The 10,000-km trans-Pacific cable will provide connectivity between Chikura, located off the coast near Tokyo, to Los Angeles and other West Coast network points of presence. At Chikura, Unity will be seamlessly connected to other cable systems, further enhancing connectivity into Asia.
The Unity consortium selected NEC Corp. and Tyco Telecommunications to construct and install the system during the signing ceremony held in Tokyo on Feb. 23. Construction will begin immediately, with initial capacity targeted to be available in the first quarter of 2010.