A group of telecommunications companies have formed a consortium to build an undersea cable connection to link Southeast Asia to the Middle East and western Europe.

Called the South East Asia--Middle East--Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE) 5 cable, it will span about 20,000km, and is designed to connect 17 countries through Points-of-Presence (POPs) from Singapore to the Middle East, to France and Italy in Western Europe.

It will enable bandwidth-intensive data and information to be delivered faster between Southeast Asia, Middle East and western Europe, and to the rest of the world.

Bill Chang, Chief Executive Officer, SingTel Group Enterprise said: "Submarine cables is key to global communications and connectivity, overcoming distance and physical borders. Today, 95 percent of the world's voice, video and data traffic is transmitted via subsea data highways."

"With significant growth in data traffic in recent years, SEA-ME-WE 5 will address the urgent need for a new generation data superhighway to cater to the increasing demand for next-generation Internet applications," he said.

The SEA-ME-WE 5 cable system is expected to start carrying commercial traffic by early 2016. It is designed to provide upgradable transmission facilities by adopting 100Gbps technology. Fully loaded, it is capable of carrying 24,000 Gbps of capacity.

The SEA-ME-WE 5 consortium is a grouping of 15 telcos comprising Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL), China Mobile International Limited (CMI), China Telecommunications Global Limited (CTG), China United Network Communications Group Company Limited (CU), Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, PJSC, (du), Orange S.A. (Orange), Myanmar Post and Telecom (MPT), PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin), Saudi Telecom Company (STC), SingTel, Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT), Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), Telecom Italia Sparkle (TIS), TOT Public Company Limited, Yemen International Telecommunications Co. (TeleYemen).