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China Unicom may join undersea cable venture
By Wang Xing (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-03-20 07:54

China Unicom, Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom and Japan's KDDI Corp are reportedly planning to spend $500 million to build a new submarine communications cable in the Asia-Pacific region.

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The Commercial Times, citing unnamed Chunghwa Telecom sources, reported yesterday that the three companies were in talks with Singapore Telecommunications and its local rival Starhub to lay the Asia-Pacific Cable Network 3 (APCN3).

The Taiwan newspaper said once the Singapore partner was selected, the four companies would sign a memorandum of understanding on the project as early as next month.

The 1,000-km undersea cable, which stretches from Singapore to Japan through Taiwan is likely to be completed by 2013, according to the newspaper. It said the APCN3 would have a larger capacity than the 10-year-old APCN2, which breaks down frequently.

Yi Difei, a China Unicom spokesman, however refuted the report. "The discussions have been preliminary and there has been no plan yet," he said.

Carrying Internet traffic and long-distance calls, undersea cables are one of the major channels for international telecommunications. But its vulnerability to natural disasters have worried telecom operators greatly.

In 2006, an earthquake cut several submarine cables near the southern coast off Taiwan, shutting down or slowing the Chinese mainland's access to overseas websites and international calls. It took China Telecom and China Netcom, which was acquired by China Unicom last year, nearly 30 days to repair the network.

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