Frequent breakages, long repairs mark Vietnam's undersea cables

By Luu Quy   December 16, 2021 | 06:31 am PT
Frequent breakages, long repairs mark Vietnam's undersea cables
A person connects Ethernet cables to ports. Illustration photo by Shutterstock
Vietnam's undersea internet cables break around 10 times a year on average, making the nation's international infrastructure support for internet connections among the weakest in the region.

The damning verdict was delivered at a seminar Wednesday by Hoang Duc Dung, a representative of Viettel Networks, which manages the telecom infrastructure for state-owned Viettel.

Each of the 10 or so breakages last for about a month, Dung noted, adding that this severely impacts international Internet connection speed for users in Vietnam.

For example, the AAE-1 cable malfunctioned on September 9 this year and was only completely fixed on November 27. The APG cable got damaged on October 29 and was only restored on November 29.

Apart from stability issues, the number of Vietnam's undersea internet cables is also in the lower spectrum compared with the rest of the world. Over 68 million people in Vietnam use the Internet, yet there are just seven undersea cables, meaning each cable shoulders internet connections for around 14 million people.

Singapore has 30 cables for 5.85 million people, Malaysia has 22 for 32.2 million people and Thailand has 10 for 69.8 million people, Dung said.

Since the undersea cable infrastructure is not enough for telecom firms, they are forced to enlist the help of land cables to Hong Kong, he added.

However, Vietnam has an edge in internet speed and pricing, said Nguyen Phong Nha, deputy head of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority. Vietnam is among markets with the cheapest pricing for broadband internet connections, he said.

A report by the International Telecommunication Union also revealed that the ratio between Vietnam’s internet pricing and average income was around 41 percent of the world average, he added.

Within ASEAN, Vietnam's internet speed was only behind Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand; while exceeding those of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines, Nha said.

As users' demand continues to grow, internet infrastructure in Vietnam would also need to pick up the pace, other experts said at the seminar.

Viettel anticipates that Vietnam's international internet connection data transfer rate could increase by 30 percent a year to at least 87 Tbps in 2030, and may reach 316 Tbps if the yearly growth rate reaches 50 percent.

"By 2030, international connection capacity needs to be expanded by 10 times the current level, maybe 40 times, with optimistic growth projections," Dung said.

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