NTT subsidiary NTT Communications has signed a construction and maintenance agreement to take part in a proposed new fibre-optic cable system – Trans-Pacific Express Cable Network (TPE) – linking Japan with China, South Korea, Taiwan and the US. The new submarine link will utilise advanced technology and will be built jointly by a group of telcos consisting of NTT Com, AT&T, China Netcom, China Telecom, China Unicom, Chungwha Telecom, KT Corp and Verizon Business. Work on the link began in the last quarter of 2006 when the original six consortium members (ie all bar NTT Com and AT&T) started constructing the southern route connecting the US with China, South Korea and Taiwan. The link is due to be lit in August 2008 and phase two of the project – the northern Japan transit – will be operational in Q1 2009. Finally, the Japan-US section is expected to be completed in early 2010. Upon completion, the TPE will span 18,000km and have transmission capacity of 5.12Tbps.