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Could you go for 12 hours without the Internet?

January 22, 2018

Genius Wong   

Genius Wong, Executive Vice President – Core and Next-Gen Connectivity Services, and Chief Technology Officer

As people’s dependence on different cloud and mobile applications continues to grow both at home and at work, and as digital innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) transform how businesses operate, it’s easy to forget that all of this is made possible by one thing: the Internet.

It’s incredible to think how quickly we’ve all become so dependent on the pervasiveness of superfast connectivity. Back in 1995 when the Internet as we know it started to gather momentum, there were just 16 million people ‘online’. In the next 20 years, Internet use grew 100-fold, to over one third of the world’s population. Today, there are around 3.5 billion Internet users. And, in just three years, by 2021, there will be more than 1 billion more: 4.6 people connected to the Internet – and as many as 27 billion networked devices globally.

All these mind-boggling numbers show how deeply ingrained the Internet has become in all aspects of our lives, the world of business and society as a whole.

Around four years ago, we commissioned a global survey to measure people’s dependence on the Internet. The research revealed that close to two-third of us (64%) experienced FOMO, or ‘fear of missing out’, without Internet access. It also showed that Asian respondents were the most Internet-dependent, with just around half (48%) of Singaporeans, for example, capable of lasting up to 12 hours without accessing the Internet. I can relate with that!

I’m also confident that if we did this research today, these figures would be much higher. Furthermore, in many industries today – from banking and retail to manufacturing and logistics – it’s practically impossible for people to do their jobs at all without connectivity. Businesses rely on cloud-based applications, data and communications, accessible over global networks, on any device, anytime, anywhere. And, with the growing adoption of different IoT and AI applications, we are all set to become even more reliant on reliable, secure, superfast network connectivity.

This means that the technology and telecoms industry has the crucial task of ensuring that the global Internet infrastructure is able to support the growing demands of our increasingly digital world. To do this, we need to work together and invest in enhancing existing networks and building new ones.

That is why Tata Communications has joined forces with Facebook, China Telecom Global, China Unicom and Telstra to build a new, next-generation subsea cable system between Hong Kong, Taiwan and California.

To-date, across the industry, almost all subsea cable systems between Asia and the US have been routed via Japan because the country is ‘just’ 8,000 kilometres from California. However one challenge with the region around Japan is that it is very prone to earthquakes which lead to connectivity outages – which in turn can have a hugely disruptive impact on businesses. But now, the technology exists to link Hong Kong and California directly – a distance of some 13,000 kilometres.

The new Hong Kong-Americas subsea cable system will be completed and connected to our global network in 2020, bringing greater speed, diversity and reliability of connectivity between the business hubs of Asia and the US.

We’re committed to working together with other key players in the technology and telecoms ecosystem, constantly growing our capabilities and investing in our global network to meet our customers and partners’ increasing data demands. With our growing global network as a foundation, businesses will be better placed than ever to transform how they operate through new disruptive digital services, and billions of people around the world will stay connected – no matter what

Learn more about the new HKA subsea cable here.