A 25,000-kilometer submarine cable system linking Asia, Africa and Europe has entered service, as China United Network Communications Group, a key participant in the cable project, accelerates steps to build internet infrastructure for countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Asia-Africa-Europe-1 cable system, better known as AAE-1, has been officially launched, with services commencing from Europe to the Far East, said the AAE-1 consortium, which coordinates efforts to complete the project. China Unicom is a key member of the alliance.
The AAE-1 is the world's largest submarine cable system built in more than a decade.
It can provide the lowest latency express internet route among dozens of countries and regions across Asia and Europe, China Unicom said in a statement. It did not disclose the specific investment in this project.
The cable system connects Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Italy and France.
The section for China's Hong Kong, Cambodia, Myanmar and Yemen is expected to be put into use in October, China Unicom said.
The AAE-1 project was initiated by China Unicom, the country's second-largest telecom carrier by subscribers, in 2012. With a minimum design capacity of 40 terabytes per second, it is designed initially with 100 gigabit per second transmission technology and is upgradable to future technology to meet new bandwidth demands.
China Unicom said with AAE-1, it will become the only operator in China to have two submarine cable systems to connect Asia, Africa and Europe.
The move is part of the company's broad efforts to build international submarine cable infrastructure. The State-owned company said it has built more than 30 submarine cables.
On Tuesday, China Unicom signed an agreement with Cameroon Telecommunications and Huawei Marine Networks to establish the South Atlantic Inter Link, or SAIL.
Under the agreement, China Unicom will be responsible for the construction, as well as the operation and maintenance of the cable network, while Huawei Marine will offer systematic solutions. The signing of the agreement means the SAIL project has entered the implementation phase.
Spanning about 6,000 kilometers, the SAIL cable network will link Kribi in Cameroon with Fortaleza in Brazil. The submarine cable project is designed to possess the largest data transmission capacity between Africa and South America, as well as provide high-quality and reliable intercontinental telecom services.
Fu Liang, an independent telecom expert, said most international data are transmitted by wires at the bottom of the ocean called submarine communications cables. China Unicom's drive in this direction will significantly boost digital connectivity across different continents.