Singtel and Telin to build new subsea cable linking Singapore and Batam

The two telco operators agreed to build the 100km Indonesia Singapore Cable System (INSICA), which is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2026.

Gigi Onag, Senior Editor, APAC

May 31, 2024

3 Min Read
Subsea cables on ocean floor
Source: Sybille Reuter/Alamy Stock Photo

Singtel and Indonesia's Telin have formed a consortium to build a new submarine cable system connecting Singapore and Batam island in Indonesia.

In a statement released Friday, the two Southeast Asian telco operators said they have signed a memorandum of understanding to build the 100km Indonesia Singapore Cable System (INSICA), which is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2026.

According to the telco operators, the INSICA will feature a 24-fiber pair subsea cable and two diverse terrestrial cable paths, offering a maximum capacity of up to 20 terabits per second per fiber pair. They added that the new diverse link provided by INSICA will enhance network protection and reliability, ensuring uninterrupted 24/7 operations for data centers.

Ooi Seng Keat, vice president of digital infrastructure & services at Singtel, noted that Batam is emerging as a prime location for data centers due to its close proximity to Singapore – underlining the need for a new subsea system that would carry Internet traffic between the two locations.

"With this cable system, we’ll be able to enhance the connectivity between the countries to support the intensive, higher power density AI workloads of enterprises and cloud companies. The development of the INSICA cable system is yet another step that we’re taking in architecting a hyper-connected, digital ecosystem to serve the long-term demands of the region’s digital future and boost the regional economy," said Ooi in a statement.

Related:Singapore banking on green strategies to drive data center expansion

Growing subsea cable system networks

Batam is located just 20km off the coast of Singapore. At present, there are 11 subsea cable systems connecting the island to the outside world.

Based on data from TeleGeography, three new cable systems under construction (besides the newly announced INSICA) will have a landing station on the island. These are Apricot, which is slated for service in 2026; Asia Connect Cable-1 and the Hawaiki Nui 1 – both expected to be operational in 2027.

These subsea cable systems are essential in supporting the growing number of data centers operating in Batam.

"The global submarine cable market is poised for unprecedented growth over the next decade, positioning Batam and Singapore as prime locations for data center investments. The INSICA submarine cable will address the critical need for data center interconnectivity among these key strategic locations," Telin CEO Budi Satria Dharma Purba, said in a statement.

He added that the direct connectivity between data centers will also support the deployment of emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things, robotics, AI and data analytics, all of which require high bandwidth and low latency for commercial-scale and real-time applications.

Batam – as well as Johor in Malaysia – has become an alternative location for data center operators looking to expand into Southeast Asia.

It started five years ago, when the Singapore government stopped the construction of new data centers in response to environmental concerns. While the moratorium was lifted a year ago, DC operators are required to comply with strict regulations for new facilities.

In a blog published in September, real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle singled out the Indonesian island as an ideal site for data center operations.

"Batam is quickly becoming a hotbed for data centers. The island has over one million people and is a major economic hub in the region. In June 2021, the Indonesian government designated one region in Batam, named Nongsa, as a Special Economic Zone for digital economy and tourism," according to blog author Desita Nanlohy.

Nanlohy added: "Nongsa and Batam are poised to become the 'digital bridge' between Singapore and Indonesia, as they have the potential to meet the growing demand for technological talent, sustainable electricity, land for data centers and capacity."


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About the Author(s)

Gigi Onag

Senior Editor, APAC, Light Reading

Gigi Onag is Senior Editor, APAC, Light Reading. She has been a technology journalist for more than 15 years, covering various aspects of enterprise IT across Asia-Pacific.

She started with regional IT publications under CMP Asia (now Informa), including Asia Computer Weekly, Intelligent Enterprise Asia and Network Computing Asia and Teledotcom Asia. This was followed by stints with Computerworld Hong Kong and sister publications FutureIoT and FutureCIO. She had contributed articles to South China Morning Post, TechTarget and PC Market among others.

She interspersed her career as a technology editor with a brief sojourn into public relations before returning to journalism, joining the editorial team of Mix Magazine, a MICE publication and its sister publication Business Traveller Asia Pacific.

Gigi is based in Hong Kong and is keen to delve deeper into the region’s wide wild world of telecoms.

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