Subsea cables connecting Sarawak to internet superhighway will let you watch movies, play games seamlessly

A filephoto for illustration purpose only. Photo credit: Pixabay

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By Karen Bong, Nur Ashikin Louis and Ling Hui

KUCHING, June 22: Imagine downloading a movie on Netflix without any interruptions or playing games without freezing momentarily.

But first we need high-speed, low latency (more direct) internet connectivity with massive network capacity to be able to movie and game seamlessly.


That is what Sarawak can expect as a state-based international telecommunication infrastructure provider PP Telecommunication Sdn Bhd (PPTel) has been and is working to build the backbone infrastructure – the subsea cable systems to bring Sarawak closer to the information and communication superhighway.

PPTel has completed the Batam Sarawak Internet Cable System (BaSICS) that forms the shortest direct route from Sarawak to Singapore which will be launched soon.

It has also joined an international consortium to build another submarine cable system called the South East Asia Hainan-Hong Kong Express Cable System (SEA-H2X) with a landing station at Santubong, which will be ready by 2024 if all go as planned, that will give direct connectivity to the superhighway around the world through not only Hong Kong and Hainan but also the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.

With the completion of BaSICS, PPTel chief executive officer (CEO) Dr Jonathan Smith said Sarawak is now only 4.5 milliseconds from Singapore versus the current connectivity which goes via Kuala Lumpur through terrestrial links and so on.

“We now have this direct connectivity to the internet superhighway. That will bring the speed and also give us (transmission) capacity. Our cable has the capability of up to 48 terabytes (one with 12 zeros) of data which is a huge number. That is the scale we are talking about,” he shared during DayakDaily’s ‘Spot On’ interview today.

Dr Jonathan Smith

While there is still some way to go to achieve seamless connectivity, Dr Smith stressed that PPTel is now putting the building blocks and the subsea cables are the absolute foundation and basics for Sarawak’s digital economy that will require high-speed internet and capacity as data will only get bigger exponentially.

“With the building blocks in place, what we need now is for the other carriers in our region to come in and take that capacity and offer it to their users.

“These two (subsea cable) networks of BaSICS and SEA-H2X will help us build a solid ring so if one side of the ring gets cut, there is always another side,” he said, explaining that the subsea cables, though armoured and buried deep down the sea, are still fragile.

PPTel is also building the terrestrial highway in Sarawak which some will go to Brunei that has their own submarine cables as well as across the border to Pontianak, Indonesia in partnership with Sarawak Energy using their fibre and where they also partnered with Indonesia’s XL Axiata to establish further international gateways for Sarawak.

“So it is a very exciting time for us to build this infrastructure and put Kuching right on the map, right in the heart of a subsea network with terrestrial backup to make Kuching effectively or an alternative hub on that superhighway,” he added.

The next part, Dr Smith continued, is to build an Internet Exchange (IX) to bring contents and services that Sarawakians want, encourage the market, prove the quality, reduce the price and make it more accessible and affordable.

However, he added that Sarawak must also take into account cyber and network security as internet providers to guard “ourselves against the dangers of the internet and attacks”.

“PPTel is working with Nexusguard and other partners to make sure that we are protected against denial-of-service attacks and other things that happen on the internet, and also ensuring safety of payment to make the internet in Sarawak safe for all users. That’s our objective,” he said.

For the full interview, click here to watch it on YouTube. — DayakDaily