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China's New Silk Road Project To Increase Data Speeds Between Europe and Asia

April 13, 2015

Improvements for China's telecommunications and infrastructure being launched as the "One Belt, One Road" project, also known as New Silk Road initiative, aim to strengthen transportation, energy and communication networks within the country, and are expected to boost interregional trade.

Whilst the planned improvements in telecommunications infrastructure have not been publicized to the same degree as other parts of the plan, an article in the international current-affairs magazine The Diplomat argues that they will be just as important. The fiber-optic cables will be supported both technically and financially through the New Silk Road initiative, as the cables can be laid along the new railroad projects that will span these new networks across the country.

These anticipated trans-Eurasion networks will alleviate disruptions along the SEA-ME-We 3 submarine telecommunications cable, which connects 31 nations across Asia and Western Europe. These underwater fiber optic cables are undertaking the majority of international data traffic, and suffer a several hundred disruptions every year. Not only do large amounts of cable pass through heavily trafficked choke points such as the Suez Canal, but ships' anchors drag across cables lying on the floor, causing further disruption. Whilst the terrestrial cables will be prone to disruptions themselves, they will be far easier to repair if so.

These new digital highways will also aim to increase the speed of data exchanges between Europe and Asia. In order to achieve "high frequency trading" (where computers will buy and sell electronically), financiers are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in order to gain milliseconds in this highly profitable business. The Silk Road telecommunications routes are an ideal option for customers looking for consistency and speed, more so than the Trans-Arctic submarine cables that are being installed to link Asia to Europe, which will face the obvious challenge of being difficult to maintain.

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