Pacnet upgrades again as price cuts, mobile data drive demand

John C. Tanner
22 Oct 2009

Pacnet is adding another 3.6 Tbps to its EAC-C2C subsea cable system, just six months after its previous upgrade, and may be forced to add more capacity before the end of 2010 to keep up with regional bandwidth demand.

The upgrade, which is kicking off three months earlier than originally planned and will be completed by early 2011, will be implemented across the entire network. Initial upgrades will focus on the key Hong Kong-Singapore and Hong-Kong-Japan routes.

The new capacity will also connect to the transpacific Unity cable, whose owners include Pacnet and Google. Pacnet will also upgrade terrestrial backhaul links between landing stations and PoPs.

Pacnet CEO Bill Barney said the growing demand for intra-Asia Internet bandwidth – fueled by mobile broadband take-up, video services and broadband growth in China, Indonesia, India and Vietnam – was outpacing expectations and forcing the carrier to upgrade its system for the second time this year.

“This is the biggest upgrade we’ve ever done, and twice the size we predicted we would need back in April,” said Barney. “We’ve seen faster growth in the last 18 months than in the last three to four years.”

Barney added that while the current upgrade plan will see Pacnet through for the next 18 months, “you may be hearing abut more upgrades earlier than that if the demand grows as fast or faster than 2009.”

TeleGeography projects intra-Asia capacity to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 48% between 2009 and 2015.

The April upgrade involved swapping out existing 2.5G links for 10G via SLTE equipment from Xtera. The new upgrade will create 360 new 10G waves, which adds up to a 40% boost in lit capacity.

“10G is the new STM-1 of the decade,” Barney said.

Pacnet did not name the vendors involved, though Barney said that Pacnet was working with three vendors identified as “the usual suspects”, and that they would be making separate announcements in the next few weeks.

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