HA NOI — The country's two leading telecommunications companies (telcos) VNPT and Viettel will team up with Facebook and 10 other Asian telcos to invest in a 10,000km undersea cable project.
|People register for the Internet at an internet pavillion owned by Unitel, a joint venture with Viettel, in Laos. VNPT and Viettel will team up with Facebook and 10 other Asian telcos to invest in a 10,000km undersea cable project to provide trouble-free internet services. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Chuong
The Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE), which will run directly from Malaysia to South Korea with links branching off to other countries, will aim to improve internet speeds in the region.
As well as VNPT and Viettel, other participating telcos in the region include China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom (China), Chunghwa Telecom (Taiwan), KT and LG (South Korea), NTT (Japan), StarHub (Singapore), Time dotcom (Malaysia), and PLDT (Philippines).
The project, which was previously named Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) before the participation of Facebook led to the ASE rebranding, will be completed by the third quarter of 2014.
The total investment is estimated at US$450 million, of which Malaysia's Time dotcom has pledged $45 million and Thailand's telco CAT increased its initial investment commitment of $10 million to $51 million.
Meanwhile, investment information from the Viet Nam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and Viettel is not yet available.
Though Facebook declined to reveal how much money the firm was committing to the scheme, market watchers said the US giant would be the largest investor.
As such, Facebook appears to be stealing a page from Google's playbook and moving beyond its origin as a purely web-based company. In 2008 Google had a role in the consortiums involved in the United States-Japan Trans-Pacific Unity submarine cable system and the South-east Asia Japan Cable in 2009.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Facebook's growth in the US had shown signs of "slowing sharply," putting further pressure on its share price.
However, the news was offset by a later Nielsen study suggesting the network was enjoying rapid growth in Asia.
It indicated that the number of Japan-based visitors to the site using PCs had more than doubled during the year to May, totalling 17.2 million people that month.
It also suggested the firm was enjoying accelerated growth in South Korea, adding there was scope for even bigger gains. — VNS