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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Phone cable to link China and US
Chinese man surfing the web
Communication between China and the US is on the rise
Work has begun on the first undersea telecommunications cable linking the US with China, Chinese press reports say.

The fibre-optic cable is designed to meet booming internet traffic between the regions, with 60 times more capacity than existing cables.

Work began in the coastal city of Qingdao this week and is scheduled to finish next July - ahead of the Beijing Olympics, Xinhua News Agency said.

Earthquake hotspots have been avoided in the planned route of the cable.

It is hoped that potential disruption to internet and telephone networks in Asia, such as that caused by the magnitude 7.1 earthquake last December near Taiwan, will be avoided.

Super highway

Investors in the project, named Trans-Pacific Express, include US telecoms giant Verizon Communications, mainland Chinese firms China Telecom, China Netcom and China Unicom, South Korea's Korea Telecom and Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom.

Verizon has previously said that the cable will extend more than 18,000 kilometres and will cost the consortium about $500m (244m).

It will terminate in Nedonna Beach, Oregon on the US west coast with connections to Taiwan and South Korea, but none to Japan.

Current cable links between China and the US run through Japan, but observers note that regional rivalry has been a key motivator in China wanting an independent trans-Pacific connection.

When complete, the new cable will be able to support the equivalent of 62 million simultaneous phone calls, with the design capacity to support future internet growth and advanced applications such as video and e-commerce.

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