Sat, 15 May 2004

Telkom to build undersea cable link to Malaysia

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, Tebanan, Bali

State-owned telecommunications firm PT Telkom signed a contract with a consortium made up of PT Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) and NEC Corporation here on Friday to build what is being dubbed the Dumai-Melaka cable system (DMCS).

Telkom's director of business and networks, Abdul Haris, said that the contract was the second of its kind for Telkom after the company signed a similar contract with Thailand and Singapore last year.

The cable will run for 160 kilometers under the sea between Dumai in Riau province and Melaka in Malaysia, crossing the Rupat and Malacca straits in the process.

"We project that the construction of this telecommunications cable system will cost around US$9 million," Haris told a media conference.

The construction cost, he said, would be covered by both companies under a 50-50 cost-sharing scheme.

He explained that the new cable system would use the most up- to-date technology -- Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) -- which could accommodate 241,921 direct fixed lines between Indonesia and Malaysia.

"This type of cable has a transmission capacity of up to 20 Gbps (giga byte per second), and it will be the first time it will have been used in Indonesia. The maximum capacity of DWDM itself is 320 Gbps, which can accommodate 3,870,720 fixed lines," said Haris.

TM's senior vice president network services, Yahya Mohammad Syarif, said that the construction of the cable system, which would be carried out by NEC Corporation, would be completed in mid-December.

Yahya said that the cable system was necessary to respond to the limited radio infrastructure links between the two countries and to meet the growing demand for bandwidth.

Telkom is also considering the possibility of building a similar network between Sarawak and Kalimantan.

With the new system, Telkom will introduce a new access code for international connections, 007, but will also keep the current code, 017.

By entering the international market, Haris said that Telkom expected to remain a leader in the telecommunications sector, both in the domestic and international markets.

He added that Telkom was ready to compete with PT Indosat, which has controlled the country's international call service for several decades and has stakes in many underwater cables linking Indonesia with the outside world.

"We don't automatically consider Indosat to be our competitor, but we want to compete fairly so as to give value added in the services we provide to all of our customers," he affirmed.