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New Fiber-Optic Undersea Cable to Connect China to the U.S.

China on Monday started building a new fiber-optic undersea cable that will connect it to the U.S.

The construction of the main body of the $500-million Trans-Pacific Express (TPE) cable started in Qingdao, a coastal city in China's eastern province of Shandong. TPE cables are also being laid in some parts of Shanghai, said the China Telecom Corp. Ltd., the largest fixed line provider in China and a member of the consortium building the 16,156-mile communication line.

Construction of the TPE, which is connected to Nedonna Beach, Oregon, on the US West Coast, is expected to be finished in July next year. The cable will also have landing points in Chongming, an island off Shanghai; Tanshui in Taiwan; and Keoje in South Korea.

Aside from China Telecom, China Netcom and China Unicom of the Chinese mainland, Chunghwa Telecom of Taiwan, Korea Telecom of South Korea and Verizon Business of the United States are involved in the project.

The TPE will serve as an alternative to the earthquake-prone and congested submarine cables off southern Taiwan. The Chinese telecommunications firms will use it to transmit in high-definition Olympics TV programs to the U.S. next year.

The cable also has greater capacity and higher speeds in handling Internet, data and voice communications between the US and Asia. According to EE Times Asia, the TPE capacity is 5.12 terabits per second, which is equivalent to 62 million simultaneous phone calls. The capacity is 60 times greater than that of the existing cables.

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