Robert Kneschke - stock.adobe.co

Bitfrost subsea cable to boost APAC connectivity

A subsea cable system linking Southeast Asia and North America will be built by 2024 to meet the growing demand for bandwidth in the Asia-Pacific region

A new subsea cable system linking Southeast Asia and North America will be built by 2024 to meet the growing demand for bandwidth in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

Billed as the largest capacity high-speed transmission cable across the Pacific Ocean, the 15,000km long Bitfrost cable system will connect Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Guam and the west coast of North America through the Java Sea and Celebes Sea.

It will be built by Singaporean conglomerate Keppel, social media giant Facebook and Telin, an Indonesian datacentre and carrier services provider.

Keppel’s share of the total project cost as a joint partner will be approximately $350m. The three parties have appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks to supply and install the cable system.

The booming digital economies in APAC have been fuelling the consumption for cloud services, which, coupled with upcoming 5G services, will result in unprecedented levels of demand for global data bandwidth.

In APAC alone, the number of internet users is expected to hit 3.1 billion users by 2023, from 2.1 billion users in 2018, according to a report from Cisco.

Thomas Pang, CEO of Keppel’s telecoms and transportation business, said the new subsea cable will also enhance Singapore’s role as a digital hub, as well as support and accelerate the region’s growing digital connectivity needs.

Read more about internet infrastructure in APAC

On the cable’s benefit to Indonesia, Telin CEO Sukardi Silalahi noted that Bitfrost will cater to a massive demand for internet services in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy whose online businesses have contributed significantly to economic growth.

Besides Bitfrost, other subsea cable systems have been built to shore up the region’s internet infrastructure.

In 2019, the 9,000km Indigo cable was built by a consortium comprising Google, Indosat Ooredoo, Singtel and Telstra, among other stakeholders, to connect Singapore and Perth, and onwards to Sydney.

More recently, a $1.5bn datacentre and subsea cable project was announced to link Perth and Darwin to the rest of the APAC region. It will offer less than half the network latency to Asia compared with a Sydney-to-Singapore connection, and is set to boost digital investments in northwest Australia.

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