PLDT Inc. (PLDT) said on Thursday it had joined a consortium to build a 9,400-kilometer “high-performance” submarine cable connecting six major countries in East and Southeast Asia.

In a statement e-mailed to reporters, PLDT said it is part of the global consortium, Asia Direct Cable, that is “building a high-performance submarine cable connecting the Philippines, China (Hong Kong SAR and Guangdong Province), Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.”

The Pangilinan-led company said it joined the consortium in 2018. CAT, China Telecom, China Unicom, Singtel, SoftBank Corp., Tata Communications, and Viettel are also members of the Asia Direct Cable consortium.

The group has chosen NEC Corp., a Japanese multinational information technology and electronics company, to construct the submarine cable system which will be designed to carry more than 140 terabits per second (Tbps) of traffic.

The consortium expects its project to be completed by the last quarter of 2022, PLDT said.

PLDT also said it expects the project to strengthen the “resiliency” of its international network “by providing additional capacity for internet and digital services.”

“Its high capacity allows it to support increasingly bandwidth-intensive applications which are driven by technological advancements such as 5G, cloud services, the Internet-of-Things and Artificial Intelligence. It will also enhance the capabilities of PLDT’s extensive fiber cable network which already spans over 338,000 kilometers across the archipelago and links the country to key destinations in different parts of the world,” PLDT explained.

PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart President Alfredo S. Panlilio was quoted as saying: “This will help PLDT to address the expanding demand for more digital services for both enterprises and our individual customers.”

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin