The Operation of Cross-Border Terrestrial Fibre-Optic Networks in Asia and the Pacific

The Operation of Cross-Border Terrestrial Fibre-Optic Networks in Asia and the Pacific

Monday, September 23, 2019
Public information and advocacy materials

Most countries in Asia and the Pacific have built their own fibre-optic backbone networks. Many cross-border terrestrial fibre-optic cable systems have been established between neighbouring countries through bilateral agreements. Yet, this regional network of terrestrial cables is not effectively managed and utilized because of operational challenges.

The interconnection of these dispersed cross-border terrestrial cables will not only increase the capacity of existing transmission channels between countries, especially for landlocked countries, but it will also reduce transit costs, and thus increase Internet affordability for end users. Furthermore, an interconnected terrestrial network will improve the region’s Internet speed, quality and reliability.

The cost of this interconnection is relatively small as it will mainly utilize existing domestic telecommunications networks in each country. Yet, there are challenges to achieving the interconnection because of the lack of systems interoperability and the lack of standards or guidelines for charging and accounting settlement of multi-country terrestrial cable circuits, resulting in very high transit services. This is particularly problematic for landlocked countries as they have to pay high charges for access to international networks.

This working paper analyses these challenges and proposes a solution to support the utilization of spare domestic terrestrial cables to carry international cross-border traffic, and enhance the efficiency, affordability and reliability of the regional backbone network.

This working paper begins by describing and analysing five case studies of cross-border terrestrial fibre-optic networks in Asia and the Pacific and in Africa to draw out common challenges found in their operations. The working paper then reviews the operation of submarine cable systems and proposes a solution for the common problems found in the operation of cross-border terrestrial networks, based on the successful operational practices of submarine cable systems and on related literature.

The solution proposed is called the circuit resource sharing mode that includes a cooperation mechanism for all countries involved to construct, operate and maintain the multi-country terrestrial network in a unified manner. A methodology for circuit capacity allocation of the cross-border terrestrial cable system is also proposed as part of this operation mode to address the challenges of charging and accounting settlement.

This working paper aims to contribute to the effective implementation of the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS), particularly on the interconnections between terrestrial networks in the Asia-Pacific region.


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