The consortium behind the Asia-Africa-Europe 1 (AAE-1) submarine cable system project – connecting Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe – have signed a supply contract with NEC Corporation for the S1H segment, representing the Thailand-to-Vietnam-and-Hong Kong section of the network. The supply contract has come into force as of October 8, 2014.

This milestone announcement follows awards to a contractor for the AAE-1 S1S and S2 segments, and signals major progress in linking the major cities of Asia, Africa and Europe.

Stretching approximately 25,000 km, AAE-1 is scheduled to be ready for service in 2016 as the first high-capacity intercontinental submarine cable to pass through the Songkhla and Satun provinces of southern Thailand. In fact, AAE-1 will be the first high-capacity cable system to link all major South East Asian nations to Africa and Europe via the Middle East.

Serving unprecedented growth in Asia-Africa trade – as well as the booming markets of Vietnam and neighbouring countries – this new cable system will deliver robust, reliable and low-latency connectivity. It will also provide desperately-needed diversity for the congested subsea systems currently connecting countries along the route.

NEC holds a wealth of experience in submarine cable projects throughout the Asia Pacific region, and provides best-in-class system component design, compatible with the overall AAE-1 system architecture.

The consortium will work with NEC to ensure AAE-1's Thailand-Hong Kong segment is ready for service (RFS) at the same time as the Europe-Asia segment. This is yet further demonstration of a commitment to providing superior connectivity on the Europe-Middle East-Asia route, with increased diversity of connectivity to major telecoms hubs in Hong Kong via a terrestrial link across Thailand.

Overall project progress is on schedule, with implementation works underway for the Europe-Asia segment – following award of a supply contract earlier in the year – together with marine survey activity in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

AAE-1 will employ 100 Gbps technology, with wavelength add/drop branching units along the lowest-latency route, as well as cross-sectional capacity to a minimum of 80x100 Gbps in each trunk fiber pair. This collaborative venture will produce the largest cable system on this route throughout Points of Presence (PoPs) in Hong Kong, mainland China and Singapore, as well as a number of diverse onward-connectivity options in Europe, such as France, Italy and Greece.

When completed in 2016, the AAE-1 cable network will connect Hong Kong (SAR of China), Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Yemen, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Italy and France, with other locations under consideration.

AAE-1 Management Committee Chairman, Troy Li said: "We are proud to be part of a cable system initiative that will provide additional empowerment for the economies of all the nations along its route. The project will also serve consortium members' business interests in the Asia-Africa trade corridor and their plans to deliver services into Africa and on to the Middle East. Another good reason for pursuing this game-changing venture is that infrastructure is becoming critical to the accelerating evolution of global data movement."

NEC's Naoki Yoshida, General Manager of the Submarine Network Division, said: "NEC is very proud to have been selected as supplier for the Hong Kong extension of the AAE-1 submarine cable. We believe our latest 100 Gbps transmission and OADM technologies have once again been recognized, together with our solid track record in the South East Asia region."

He added: "Backed by more than 40 years of experience in constructing some 200,000 kilometers of submarine cable infrastructure, this advanced system enables NEC to capitalize on its expertise and contribute to worldwide communications. NEC is impressed by the level of commitment from members of the AAE-1 consortium. Similarly, we are committed to our role in the project, which we will demonstrate by delivering best-in-class system design and implementation, ready for service in 2016. NEC will work closely with various AAE-1 parties, and mobilize all resources necessary to support the project as a priority."