NTT Communications joins giant trans-Pacific cable

TOKYO, March 25, 2008 (AFP) – Japanese and US telecom giants NTT and AT&T said Tuesday they were joining a next-generation underwater cable project to speed up booming Internet traffic between Asia and North America. The entrance of NTT Communications Corp., a unit of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp, ensures that a branch of the “Trans-Pacific Express” fibre optic cable network will connect with Japan, Asia’s largest economy.

The project — which already involves companies from China, Taiwan and AT&T’s rival Verizon Communications — was originally estimated to cost some 500 million dollars.

In the first phase, a cable stretching 17,000 kilometres (11,000 miles) from China’s east coast to the western US state of Oregon is set to go into service by August, in time to transmit high-speed data from the Beijing Olympics.

The link is expected to have some 60 times the capacity of an existing one under the ocean.

The new cable is expected to help avoid breakdowns in Internet traffic similar to what occurred following a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the seabed near Taiwan in December 2006, snapping undersea telecom cables.

The quake caused major communications disruptions in Taiwan, China