Why does the AAG underwater cable have to be repaired so often?

VietNamNet Bridge - The Asia-American Gateway (AAG) submarine cable in Vietnam has been in need of repair several times this year, affecting data transmission between Vietnam and the world.

Asia-American Gateway, AAG submarine cable

In the first half of 2015, the cable was in trouble four times, on January 1, April 23, May 26 and early June.

In Vietnam, Internet service providers (ISP) such as FPT Telecom, Viettel, VNPT, VDC, and SPT all use this important cable route to connect to the world. Any problem with the AAG network seriously affects Internet users in Vietnam.

It is difficult to determine the exact cause of the incident to submarine optic cables because there are many different causes leading to incidents such as natural disasters (seismic activities), maritime activities (anchors of ships), by operation of fishermen or unusual technical incidents.

Bui Quoc Viet, director of the Centre for Information and Public Relations of the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), one of the management units of AAG route, said that many incidents had occurred to the section of AAG in the continental shelf of Vietnam since the cable was put into operation.

Viet also pointed out possible causes, including the shallow waters of the sea near Vung Tau and the high density of vessels in the area.

Viet added that the incidents to AAG cable offshore Vietnam were unforeseeable circumstances, beyond the control of the involved parties.

Many experts said that perhaps the process of survey, construction and operation of the AAG cable was not good, so many incidents have occurred on this route, especially for the section in the sea of Vung Tau.

Intentional or accidental destruction by humans is another reason. In 2007, it was reported that some Vietnamese fishermen illegally cut the submarine cable to sell.

The AAG cable is now being interrupted for maintenance, which will last until June 17.

ISPs in Vietnam said that they would ensure the stability of Internet connections between the country and other nations.

FPT Telecom Company said it had laid cables over land and had increased its international Internet capacity to 50Gbps to reduce the impact of AAG to the minimum.

In the past few months, FPT has expanded its international bandwidth to increase Internet capacity for customers, and to limit the problems that occur when one of the lines connecting with other countries has a breakdown.

Meanwhile, Viettel Network Corporation's Deputy General Director Pham Dinh Truong said the firm has increased its Internet capacity to 30Gbps, with 20Gbps for connections with other countries via TGN-Intra Asia Cable Network (IA) and 10Gbps over land via China Telecom and China Unicom. He said Viettel also transferred 20Gbps from AAG to land cables.

Truong said the company currently uses about 30 per cent of the AAG cable capacity. However, it has maintained the quality of its service because of constant upgrades to its transmission networks and backup capacity.

Viettel and several large telecom providers are constructing the 11,000km Asia Pacific Gateway with a bandwidth of 4Tbps, connecting Viet Nam, several Asian countries and the United States.

They are also investing in the construction of the 25,000km Asia Africa Euro 1, connecting Viet Nam and several Asian countries to Europe and Africa. The two new cables will become operational next year.

VNPT said it has transferred its Internet capacity via the South-East Asia - Middle East - Western Europe 3 (SMW3) undersea cable, the land cable that goes through China, and via satellites, and has increased the Internet capacity through the aforementioned networks to meet the demands of customers.

There are four submarine optical cables in Vietnam. AAG, with a length of more than 20,000km, became operational in 2009. It has the largest Internet capacity and connects the Southeast Asian region with the United States directly.

The IA cable is new and does not have as much capacity as AAG. The remaining cables, consisting of SMW3 and Thailand-Viet Nam-Hong Kong (TVH), have low capacity and have been used for 10 to 15 years.

In Vietnam, AAG is the main cable used by local Internet service providers to connect the country with other nations.

The AAG is a 20,000-kilometre long submarine communications cable system, connecting Southeast Asia with the US mainland, across the Pacific Ocean via Guam and Hawaii.

With a total investment of approximately $560 million, AAG has a length of nearly 20,000 km, starting from Malaysia (TM) and ending in the US (AT & T Telecom Company).

The segment to Vietnam is 314 km long and lands at Vung Tau.  There are four participants in the system, including FPT Telecom, VNPT, Viettel and SPT.

Viet Hai

Asia-American Gateway, AAG submarine cable