The global economy – and population – of today demands unprecedented levels of connectivity. From an APAC consumer perspective, it’s usually enough to satisfy this demand by ensuring 3G/4G availability and broadband. For APAC businesses, it’s a completely different story.
The growth in big data, cloud, AI, IoT, SDNs… all these and more mean Asia Pacific’s infrastructure must not only reach across the planet, but also be secure, reliable, and capable of supporting the necessary bandwidth levels for businesses to grow and for governments to communciate. When the planet in question comprises 70% water, there’s only way to go.
The Asia Pacific submarine cable systems market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 9.8% for the period 2018–2027. Digital Centre Steering Committee member Equinix explains why. ‘Along with this high growth, the makeup of subsea cable traffic is evolving – more than two-thirds of the subsea fiber cable bandwidth capacity growth comes from hyperscalers and content providers such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon. Equinix has played a large part in developing the next generation of submarine system landing station infrastructures to accommodate this shift by placing cable landing stations in its global data centres.’
This is crucial because of the rise in demand for resilient data delivery, interconnectivity and capacity. These are just some of the foundations required for the modern way of doing business – real-time, synced, and with minimum latency. Then there’s the fact that the very nature of data is changing. ‘In the last five years, machine-to-machine traffic has multiplied five times,’ explains Mike Constable, chief executive officer for Huawei Marine. ‘Around 80% of the traffic across the Atlantic is machine-to-machine. Humans are playing less of a role in creating data.’
For companies with hyperscale needs such as Google, there’s one solution. Build your own deep sea cable. That’s what the search giant is doing, with the goal of connecting Japan to Guam, and Guam to Australia. The 9,500km cable will contain glass capable of carrying 100 terabits of traffic (equivalent to 650,000 simultaneous HD video streams).
Google, along with Facebook and the Pacific Light Data Corporation, is also building the Pacific Light Cable Network. The 12,971km cable will directly connect Hong Kong and the US and offers 100G wavelength, dark fiber, and short latency of 130ms.
Singapore and Australia are also being connected via the INDIGO 4,600km submarine cable system. This is being delivered by AARNet, Google, Indosat Ooredoo, Singtel, SubPartners and Telstra. The consortium has already agreed to ‘connecting Singapore, Perth and Sydney, with two additional fibre pairs connecting Singapore and Jakarta via a branching unit’.
Looking ahead, there’s one factor sure to accelerate the pace of connectivity even further – 5G. Asia Pacific is expected to be the world’s largest region for 5G connectivity by 2025. Combine this with the growing data volumes, and the world’s seas will play a central role in enabling global data centre connectivity.