“Data superhighway” being laid between Singapore and France

SubCom’s graphic showing the route of the cable
Work has begun on a 19,200km submarine cable system connecting 12 countries between Singapore and France.

Known as the Southeast Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 6 (SEA-ME-WE 6), the cable is the latest in a series of fibre-optic links to be laid between Southeast Asia and Europe. The previous version, SEA-ME-WE 5, entered service in December 2016.

Each addition to the cable system adds fibre pairs, which equates to higher carrying capacity. The latest version will have 24 and will be able to convey 100Tb/s, the equivalent of 40,000 high-definition videos a second, compared with 38Tb/s for its last predecessor.

The system is divided into three segments: an undersea stretch between from Tuas in Singapore to Ras Ghareb in Egypt, an overland section to Port Said in Egypt, and an undersea segment to Marseilles. It is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2025.

The project is being organised by a consortium made up of the telecoms companies along the route, including those based in Singapore, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Egypt and France.

The installation is being handled by SubCom, a New Jersey engineer that specialises in making and deploying fibre-optic cables. The contract, for which no price was given, was signed on Monday.

Yue Meng Fai, chair of the SEA-ME-WE 6 management committee and director at Singtel, commented: “This new cable system will help all parties provide faster broadband access to users along this multi-regional data superhighway while supporting surges from changing working and consumption habits, from 5G, remote working needs and video streaming demands, among others.”

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