February 25, 2018, 9:57 am
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Telcos, gov’t face off 

PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom are ready to face competition from the government  as a virtual third telco player by sustaining investments in the expansion of their  network infrastructure that would address demand for fast internet services. 

Government on Wednesday  signed an agreement with technology giant Facebook in building the 250-kilometer Luzon Bypass Infrastructure,  a submarine cable telecommunication infrastructure that will give 2-Terabits per second (Tbps)  capacity,  almost equal the combined capacity of 2.3 terabytes of PLDT and Globe. 

Expected to be operational by 2019, the infrastructure would serve the internet requirements of government agencies in the country. The government also intends to lease out the infrastructure to small telco players, cable operators and internet services providers especially in underserved areas. 

 “We welcome competition.  That is the… environment since the 1990s when the industry  was deregulated and opened up,” said  Ramon Isberto, PLDT spokesperson.

PLDT and Globe has six and five international submarine  cable systems, respectively.

PLDT said by end-2017, total capacity of its international submarine cable links (including those not terminating in the Philippines) will reach 4.497 Tbps. 

This is a nearly 140 percent  increase in capacity from end-2015 when total capacity stood at 1.889 Tbps.

 PLDT has also readied further expansion programs to meet expected rapid growth in demand for internet as well as other services requiring international facilities.

These programs would bring total capacity to 8.413 Tbps by end-2019.

“The build-up of our international cable system capacity is in step with the ongoing expansion of our domestic fiber transmission network. These two efforts support both our fiber to the home last-mile access and our mobile data networks. As a result, we will be progressively able to provide higher levels of internet service to more areas of the country,” said Mario Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president and head of Network Planning and Engineering.

 Yoly Crisanto,  Globe senior vice president said “Globe is ready to compete on a level playing field.”

But Crisanto said there are no plans within this year or next to build another subsea cable  after the $250-million Southeast Asia-United States (SEA-US)  which Globe  completed recently.

The 14,500-kilometer SEA-US international cable system uses the latest 100 gigabits per second transmission technology to deliver an additional 20 Tbps second capacity.  

Such additional capacity will cater to the exponential growth of bandwidth between the two continents, Globe said.

Aside from forming part of the SEA-US consortium, Globe is also a member of an international consortium of telecommunications and technology companies operating the Southeast Asia-Japan Cable (SJC) system ;East Asia Cable system (EAC), Asia Pacific Cable Network-2 (APCN2), Tata Global Network–Intra Asia cable system (TGN-IA), and the the City to City cable system (C2C), and is interconnected with major Trans-Pacific Cable systems that encompass the Unity, Tata Global Network-Pacific, (TGN-P) and the Japan-US Cable Network (J-US).

PLDT will further boost its capacity through its P7-billion investment in the new trans-Pacific cable system called “Jupiter” which will further increase the capacity and resiliency of its direct undersea fiber links to the US  and Japan.

The new cable system is being built by a consortium of global companies that include Amazon, Facebook, SoftBank, PCCW Global and NTT Communications. 

With a total length of about 14,000 kilometers, the cable system  can deliver a capacity of more than 60 Tbps from the Philippines directly to the US and Japan and will be ready for service in early 2020.
 
“What is noteworthy about the Jupiter cable system is its use of the ‘open cable model’ which allows PLDT to quickly increase its undersea cable capacity in order to respond to rising market needs,” said Gene Sanchez, PLDT vice president  and head of International Network.

Sanchez said  the consortium participants in the Jupiter  cable system are acquiring the fiber cables themselves, not just a share of the system’s fiber capacity. 

That way, PLDT can increase the capacity of its own fiber links by investing in the terminal technologies that boost data throughput. 

Unlike in other cable system, Sanchez said, PLDT does not have to wait for the upgrade cycle of the consortium.
 
“This way, we can be much more responsive to the needs of the customers we serve,” he said. “This will enable us to better address the needs of our PLDT fiber to home customers and our LTE/3G mobile data users,” he added.
 
PLDT has invested heavily in international submarine cables to meet the growing connectivity needs of the country. 

In 2014, PLDT partnered with Hong Kong-based PCCW Global to acquire capacity in the Asia-Africa-Europe 1 (AAE-1) Cable System, a 25,000-kilometer undersea cable network system that connects Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe.

The year before, PLDT  together with its partners completed the construction of the Asia Submarine-Cable Express (ASE), the largest-capacity international submarine cable system in the Philippines with a landing station located in Daet, Camarines Norte.

PLDT has also landed other international cable systems in the Philippines, such as the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) and the Southeast Asia-Middle East-West Europe 3 (SEA-ME-WE3), which both land in Nasugbu, Batangas, and the Asia-America Gateway (AAG), in Bauang, La Union. 

As the first party to utilize the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure, Facebook will construct and operate a submarine cable system that will land in the cable stations in Baler, Aurora on the east and in San Fernando, La Union in west. The cable will provide direct connections from Luzon to Internet hubs in the US  and Asia. 

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority will invest P975 million for the two landing cable stations the construction of which would be bid out to contractors.
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