SEA-ME-WE 5


With less than a million citizens, Djibouti struggles with the abysmal ICT indicators. Its internet hums with 12% penetration while mobile SIM penetration is 36% only. Now flip the page. Nine submarine cables transit at Djibouti to link Africa, the Middle East and Asia with Europe. Australia is coming soon!
Bangladesh badly needs a second submarine cable for steady supply of international telecoms connectivity. The second cable is also critical to efficiently serve the cross-border customers. That’s the strategic significance SEA-ME-WE 5, the sequel of SEA-ME-WE 4 submarine cable, for Bangladesh. The new cable has been timely ashore but plugging it to the country’s telecoms networks remains uncertain. Multiple state-owned telecoms outfits, historically inefficient and corrupt, hinder the domestic transmission works of SEA-ME-WE 5.

Progress on SEA-ME-WE 5

Posted by on March 13, 2016  /  0 Comments

Appears to have been landed at both ends, la Seyne-sur-Mer, in France and Tuas in Singapore. The contracts were let to different parties, Alcatel Lucent and NEC, for the France-Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka-Singapore segments respectively. It is not evident from the web that the landings have been made in Sri Lanka yet. SingTel has announced it has completed the landing of the SEA-ME-WE 5 subsea cable at Tuas in Singapore. The 20,000km Southeast Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 5 cable is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
A few weeks back, I raised a few questions about the incompleteness of a report on Myanmar’s international connectivity. I was happy to see today that the gaps have been closed. MPT, which has sharply increased spending on advertising since losing its monopoly in the mobile market, has been working on new international connectivity that involves bringing to Myanmar, SEA-ME-WE 5, an undersea cable owned by a consortium. MPT would not say when work would begin on the Myanmar branch of SEA-ME-WE 5. However, Yosuke Fukuma, a public relations adviser to MPT, and U Zaw Htay, an engineer in its overseas department, indicated that it would be operational by the end of 2017.
A carrier-neutral international cable that will connect Myanmar to Thailand and Malaysia is be operational by 2017. he story does not say anything about SEA-ME-WE 5, scheduled to be operational in 2016, and the AAE-1 cable scheduled for completion in Q4 2016. Nor is any mention made of the already built new links to China. Could this be because all the above except for SEA-ME-WE 5 are essentially cables that connect China to the world, which just happen to go through Myanmar? Any way, a carrier-neutral cable is always a good thing.
China Unicom and Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) have completed the deployment of a 1,500km terrestrial optical fiber link. It spans from the southwest Chinese province of Yunnan to Myanmar’s Ngwe Saung Beach in the Irrawaddy Delta. It is called China-Myanmar International (CMI) cable. This US$50 million cross-border telecommunication transmission link runs from Ruili and Muse on the Sino-Myanmar border to the coast via Mandalay and Yangon. Eventually it will be plugged with SEA-ME-WE 5 and AAE-1 submarine cable systems.
Submarine cables in Sri Lanka historically land nearby Colombo at Mount Lavinia. And they have been the branch from  main cable’s trunk. Not any more. The SEA-ME-WE 5 submarine cable will directly hop at a new location – Matara. Therefore, this new submarine cable’s landing, at 160 km from Colombo, will make Sri Lanka’s international connectivity more resilient.
All these years Sri Lanka was connected to its main international communication conduits (SEA-ME-WE 2, 3 and 4) from Colombo and Mount Lavinia (a suburb of Colombo) over branch cables. In the case of SEA-ME-WE 5, the new consortium cable that is expected to come online in 2016, the connection will be direct, in that the Alcatel built cable will terminate in Brown’s Hill in Matara (close to the southernmost point of Sri Lanka) and the eastern component to be built by NEC will commence from the same location. This will shave off several milliseconds from the delivered latency partly because of the use of superior regenerators and partly because of the reduced distance. This is what Wikipedia says: Latency is largely a function of the speed of light, which is 299,792,458 meters/second in vacuum. This would equate to a latency of 3.
The government of Bangladesh will spend USD 72.5 million on SEA-ME-WE 5, on which construction commenced this month. “As Myanmar has become a member of the consortium we are paying $10 million less for the branch cable,” Hossain said. So far 12 countries have confirmed their membership with the consortium, while three other entities may join later, which will reduce the cost of Bangladesh for the core cable, he said. The final contract of the consortium will be signed next month, he said.
Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 had disappeared with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on day after the signing of SEA-ME-WE 5 agreement in Kuala Lumpur. Ms. Hualian (Happy) Zhang, the VP of Network Planning for China Telecom Global, was among the ill-fated passengers of KL-Beijing flight. Besides, two persons from the Ministry, two persons from Huawei and one person from another telecom vendor were on board. Ms.
Espionage outfits of Singapore, Australia, USA and UK have unlawfully intercepted the voice and data traffic of SEA-ME-WE 3 and SEA-ME-WE 4 submarine cable networks. Philip Dorling, the National Affairs and Defence Correspondent for The Canberra Times, broke this news quoting Edward Snowden’s leaked information. Australia’s all the major newspapers (Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times) have simultaneously published his sensational exclusive report. Australian intelligence expert and Australian National University professor Des Ball said that intelligence collection from fibre optic cables had become “extremely important” since the late 1990s because such communications channels now carry more than 95 per cent of long distance international telecommunications traffic. “Fibre optic cables are much more difficult to intercept than satellite communications,” Professor Ball said.