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Telekom mum on news of cable link project with AT&T

TELEKOM Malaysia Bhd (TM), the country’s biggest phone company, is keeping mum on talk that it is in discussion with AT&T, the largest US telephone company, to build a cable link between the US and South-East Asia.

TM wishes to inform that it does not comment on any news that is speculative in nature,” the company said in response to a Business Times query yesterday.

According to online news posted on the dallasnews.com website, AT&T, which is planning to expand its cable network in Asia, is in talks with TM and Singapore’s Starhub Ltd to build the cable link.

Starhub head of corporate communications and investor relations Jeannie Ong and AT&T spokesman Michael Coe declined to comment on the news report.

The report said the San Antonio-based AT&T may invest between US$400 million and US$500 million (RM1.4 billion to RM1.8 billion) if the agreement is concluded.

The report also said that AT&T wants to create more transmission capacity for countries in South-East Asia, including Malaysia and the Philippines.

In the past few years, TM has been involved in several undersea cable projects that link several countries in other regions to Malaysia.

In May 2004, Indonesia’s state-owned Telkom signed a contract with a consortium in which TM is a member to build an undersea telecommunications cable link from Indonesia to Malaysia. The other member of the consortium is NEC Corp.

The US$9 million (RM32 million) contract is for the construction of the cable link that will run for 160km between Dumai in Indonesia’s Riau province and Malacca in Peninsular Malaysia.

A month earlier, TM together with 15 other international telecommunications companies signed an agreement for a new submarine cable system, named South-East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4.

The consortium of 15 companies awarded the contract for the project to France-based Alcatel Submarine Networks and Japan’s Fujitsu Ltd. The project’s estimated cost is US$500 million (RM1.8 billion).

The system, spanning some 20,000km across the eastern and western parts of the world, is aimed at achieving ultra-fast terabit per second connectivity.

It will land in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria and France.

TM is also one of 36 owners of an undersea cable system spanning 28,000km and linking Europe, Africa and Asia, which was completed in May 2002.

The US$638 million (RM2.3 billion) fibre optic cable system enables TM to support its customers’ requirements for voice, data and Internet service to all destinations and to promote the company and Malaysia in particular as a regional telecommunications hub.

TM has invested US$50 million (RM178 million) in the system.-BTimes

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy