Verizon Business is working closely with its Asian partners to activate the U.S.-mainland China portion of the Trans-Pacific Express (TPE) submarine cable in July, 2008, a month in advance of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games. TPE is the first next-generation, high-capacity undersea system to link the United States with mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea.
Verizon Business teamed up with charter TPE Consortium team members - China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, Korea Telecom and Chunghwa Telecom (Taiwan) - to expedite the longest leg of the 18,000-kilometer (more than 11,000 miles) cable system.
The new fiber-optic cable can support the equivalent of 62 million simultaneous phone calls, more than 60 times the overall capacity of the existing cable directly linking the United States and China, i.e., China-US Cable Network.
"The new system will use the latest optical technology to provide greater capacity and higher speeds to meet the dramatic increase in demand for IP, data and voice communications with the Asia-Pacific region," said Fred Briggs, Verizon Business executive vice president of operations and technology. "In addition to meeting the immediate demands for capacity, the TPE cable will provide multinational customers with numerous long-term benefits, including improved performance and reliability, as well as reduced latency" [the time it takes for data sent from its entry point in the network to reach its destination].
While the TPE will initially provide capacity of up to 1.28 terabits per second (Tbps) when activated, the system will have design capacity of up to 5.12 Tbps to support future Internet growth and advanced applications such as video and e-commerce throughout the Asia-Pacific region. This also will be the first time individual customers can have direct submarine cable connectivity from the U.S. to China at wavelengths of up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps).
The cable system has a U.S. landing point provided by Verizon Business at Nedonna Beach, Ore. Earlier this year Verizon Business received FCC approval to operate TPE using the Oregon landing facilities, making it the first system to land on the U.S. West Coast in more than five years. Work also has been completed on construction of landing stations on the China mainland at Qingdao and Chongming; and in Tanshui, Taiwan; and Keoje, South Korea. Terrestrial cable routes from the cable stations to network facilities in each country are near completion.
The TPE Consortium signed a construction and maintenance agreement on Dec. 18, 2006, in Beijing. The first undersea fiber-optic section was placed in the waters off the South Korean coast on Sept. 20, 2007. The final splice on the U.S.-to-mainland China segment is scheduled for late April - just seven months after the start of the "wet" build.
System integration and testing begins in late April and will conclude with the provisional network acceptance, followed by system activation in July.
"This is one of the most aggressive submarine cable builds I've been involved with in more than 15 years," said Ihab Tarazi, Verizon Business vice president of global network planning. "Because of our extensive experience, we knew exactly what we had to do get this cable up and operational in time for the Olympic Games. We teamed with our TPE partners to complete the design and engineering, and then we immediately engaged our supplier, Tyco Telecommunications, to begin a very aggressive push to manufacture the fiber-optic cable and construct this cable end-to-end.
"For the past 15 months, we have seen outstanding cooperation by our TPE consortium members," Tarazi said. "We knew if we drove this project hard, we would meet our original system delivery date in August. But we also knew if we pushed a little harder, we could be ahead of schedule and deliver capacity in July."
In addition to more capacity and speed, the TPE system will provide more diversity of routes for customers using trans-Pacific submarine cable systems. Since a major earthquake occurred off the coast of Taiwan in December 2006, cutting eight undersea cables in 22 locations, route diversity has become one of the most important features customers require when purchasing capacity on undersea cables.
In addition to route diversity, Verizon Business customers will be able to take advantage of a network architecture design called meshing, which provides alternate paths for rerouting traffic to another path in the event of a cable cut or network disruption. Currently, Verizon Business has a five-way mesh design on its trans-Pacific portion of its global network, and after TPE, the mesh design increases to a seven-way mesh. If needed, meshing allows the rerouting of voice and data traffic within 50 to 100 milliseconds.
The TPE cable also will give Verizon Business transit capabilities and route diversity to India, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand. These new routes will be shorter and should reduce latency for customers by 10 percent to 15 percent. "This will be a real benefit to Verizon Business customers," Tarazi said. "Everything we can do to reduce latency on the network is critical to our large-business customers today. We also will be able to improve our provisioning intervals so customers can receive services more quickly."
In addition to the numerous customer benefits of the TPE cable, Verizon Business is the only U.S.-based company that is a U.S. landing party for TPE and operator of the TPE Network Operations Center in the U.S.
"All of our consortium members, suppliers and vendors, and the federal, state and local communities in the United States that are helping complete this Trans-Pacific Express cable in record time should be commended," Tarazi said. "This will become the next-generation Asia-Pacific submarine cable that everyone wants to join so all can do more business with this fast-growing region."