Undersea `highway' to speed up regional links [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) BACK in 1988, the world's first submarine fibre optic telephone cables were laid on the ocean floors, linking the United States and Europe, in a move that revolutionised the telecommunications industry.
With the advent of fibre optics, the Internet also became faster and information, data, video and voice from the other side of the world can travel at the speed of light.
Malaysia's telecommunications service providers like Telekom Malaysia Bhd and others also jumped on the bandwagon, forming partnerships and pay rentals to other countries such as Singapore to hitch a ride on their information highway.
Over the decades however, Internet traffic became heavier, crowded and slower, dragging the broadband speed down to a snail's pace - at the expense of the users.
One aspect in the whole fibre optic myriad is also missing - an Internet highway to call our own.
It was a historic moment last Wednesday when Time dotCom Bhd launched its partly-owned 10,700km fibre optic cable network which, when ready in 2015, will link Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and the US, where most of the Internet traffic originates from.
The RM1.8 billion Asia Pacific Gateway underwater Internet highway, of which Time dotCom has a 10 per cent stake, is shared with nine other countries and will have speeds of up to 3.4 terabits per second.
The gateway, which is Asia Pacific's most sophisticated, is a milestone as it will mark the reduction of Malaysia's dependence on the communications network of other countries, especially Singapore.
The gateway will also attract Internet users like multinationals, firms and users from Thailand, Cambodia and other IndoChina countries, already frustrated with the long downloading times and the endless buffering to see their favourite singers on You Tube.
Naturally, they would opt for this new highway as an alternative over that of other already congested highways such as the Singapore transit point and at a fraction of the cost.
Companies and regular Internet users would also want various but stable alternatives for their online surfing and not just rely on one Internet highway.
Multinationals and other firms operating in the region would want options for their Internet traffic and if one highway is too slow and takes too long, naturally firms would want another highway.
"It is like when you go home from work... one route is congested while another is free of traffic but you have to pay toll while another is slightly further but has no toll. Wouldn't you, as a road user, want the right to choose which route to take?," asked a Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission official.
The gateway will hopefully enable Malaysia to achieve the critical mass and economies of scale to become a regional Internet transit hub to be reckoned with.
Time dotCom executive director and chief executive officer Afzal Abdul Rahim said that hopefully, the gateway will level the playing field in broadband charges in the region, which in the end will benefit the end users.
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