NEC’s submarine cables keep an eye out for earthquakes, tsunamis

V Rishi Kumar Hyderabad | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 20, 2017

Japanese IT company likely to bid for Chennai-Andamans cable project

Apart from being a telecom/data traffic carrier, the submarine cable systems of Japanese IT firm NEC Corporation, which link one land mass to another thousands of kilometres apart, also double up to monitor seismic activity, helping predict earthquakes and tsunami from the deep-sea floor.

Shota Masuda, Senior Manager, Head of Sales, Submarine Network Division, NEC, said the undersea cable industry, estimated to be worth over $2.5-3 billion, continues to offer opportunities to further strengthen the network.

The $25-billion turnover of the Japanese company, which has a market share of over 30 per cent in submarine cable systems, has been innovatively using these cable networks for earthquakes and tsunami alerts through sensors based on the seabed.

“These ultra-long haul transmission lines over transoceanic distances are reliable and stable for over 25 years. Often, these are located about 8,000 metres under the sea. Harnessing the potential of these cables, we also offer earthquake and tsunami alerts,” Masuda explained.

Big shift

The ratio of submarine cable to satellite for use of communication, which was 50:50 in 1995, has gradually shifted to 99 per cent submarine and only 1 per cent satellite.

For instance, in the Tokyo-Los Angeles cable link, which is 9,000-km long, the Tokyo to Los Angeles link through satellite has to traverse 72,000 km, which is eight times the cable link, bringing about latency in the system, Masuda said during the NEC Expo in Japan. “As a company which designs, develops, manufactures cables and related systems, we also serve as a deployment partner for various operators. We are closely watching the progress of a BSNL tender in India which seeks to connect Chennai to the Andamans,” he said.

As a supplier and deployer of submarine cable systems, NEC has been involved in many major projects, such as faster cable network of 11,500 km, SEA-ME-WE-5 cable system of 20,000 km, South Asia-United States Cable System of 14,500 km and South Atlantic Cable System of 6,200 km.

It has seen growing interest for these networks as the demand for bandwidth is set to grow due to the data explosion.

Cable capacity

The latest submarine cables can carry up to 80 terabytes of information per second. This is equivalent to 1.2 billion voice circuits per cable or 2,100 DVDs (each of 4.7 GB) transmitted in one second.

As data explodes, the demand for data centres will go up. This will call for more cable networks worldwide, Masuda said.

The writer was in Tokyo at the invitation of NEC Corporation

Published on November 20, 2017
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