The SEA-ME-WE 6 (Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 6) consortium announced that construction has commenced on an 11.9k-mile (19.2k-kilometer) long subsea cable system connecting 12 locations, in 11 countries, from Singapore to France. Specifically, the trunk and branches of the SEA-ME-WE 6 subsea cable will connect to Marseille, France; Port Said, Egypt; Ras Ghareb, Egypt; Yanbu, Saudi Arabia; Djibouti City, Djibouti; Karachi, Pakistan; Mumbai, India; Hulhumale, Maldives; Matara, Sri Lanka; Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh; Morib, Malaysia; and Tuas, Singapore. Additionally, SEA-ME-WE 6 contemplates three extension options to Mazara, Italy; Athens, Greece; and Chennai, India.

Overall, the SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium members currently comprise 13 global telecom and tech companies, including BSCCL (Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company), Bharti Airtel, Dhiraagu, Djibouti Telecom, Mobily (Etihad Etisalat), Orange, Singtel, Sri Lanka Telecom, Telecom Egypt, Telin, TM (Telekom Malaysia), and Transworld Associates (TWA).

SEA-ME-WE 6 (Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 6) – Subsea Cable

SEA-ME-WE 6 will consist of three segments as it traverses from Singapore to France:

  1. Undersea: from Tuas, Singapore to Ras Ghareb, Egypt
  2. Terrestrial: from Ras Ghareb, Egypt to Port Said, Egypt
  3. Undersea: from Port Said, Egypt to Marseille, France

Capacity

SEA-ME-WE 6 has been designed to have a minimum transmission speed of 100 terabits per second (Tbps) and the ability to support up to 24 fiber pairs. The fiber pair capacities for each network segment have been individually designed, together with the segment fiber pair counts. As such, SEA-ME-WE 6 offers multi-terabit end-to-end capacity.

Bharti Airtel has disclosed that it has acquired one fiber pair on the main SEA-ME-WE 6 system. Additionally, Bharti Airtel will co-build four fiber pairs between Singapore – Chennai – Mumbai as part of the cable system.

Timing

The SEA-ME-WE 6 system is expected to be ready for service by Q1 2025.

System Supplier

SubCom will design, manufacture, and deploy the SEA-ME-WE 6 subsea cable as part of its contract-in-force with the SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium.

Purpose

The SEA-ME-WE 6 subsea cable will increase internet capacity, speeds, redundancy, and reliability, while lowering latency, between Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe. In turn, this subsea cable will help meet rising data demands and offer one of the lowest latencies available on this high traffic density route between Asia and Europe.

More specifically, the SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium’s subsea cable will support the growing demand for 4G and 5G services, broadband, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, augmented reality & virtual reality, cloud services, and video conferencing, across the region.

Additionally, the subsea cable system will provide direct access to key internet exchange points (IXPs) and data centers from Southeast Asia to Europe.

Contributions and Rationale by Consortium Participants

The SEA-ME-WE 6 subsea cable will strengthen the overall network and lower the total cost of network ownership for each consortium partner. Further, the SEA-ME-WE 6 subsea cable’s participants, including Bharti Airtel, Orange, and TM (Telekom Malaysia) have varying contributions and rationales for participating in the build of this shared form of digital infrastructure. Below is further detail on each of these three participants:

  • Bharti Airtel: responsible for landing the subsea cable in India at new cable landing stations in Mumbai and Chennai. Additionally, Bharti Airtel will fully integrate the cable system with the data centers of its subsidiary Nxtra, particularly in Mumbai and Chennai. Notably, Bharti Airtel is anchoring 20% of the overall investment in the cable system
  • Orange: responsible for landing the subsea cable in Marseille, France
  • TM (Telekom Malaysia): SEA-ME-WE 6 will support the deployment of hyperscalers’ data centers as well as the future requirements of 5G networks in Malaysia. Specifically, SEA-ME-WE 6 will land at TM’s new cable landing station in Morib, which is in close proximity to Klang Valley and most data centers of hyperscale companies
Jonathan Kim covers Fiber for Dgtl Infra, including Zayo Group, Cogent Communications (NASDAQ: CCOI), Uniti Group (NASDAQ: UNIT), Lumen Technologies (NYSE: LUMN), Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FYBR), Consolidated Communications (NASDAQ: CNSL), and many more. Within Fiber, Jonathan focuses on the sub-sectors of wholesale / dark fiber, enterprise fiber, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), and subsea cables.

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