Vietnam has agreed in principle to allow its three telecom giants VNPT, Viettel and CMC TI, to participate in a 450 million USD international project to lay a 10,000-km undersea internet cable, according to the Government Office.

The Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE), which will run directly from Malaysia to the Republic of Korea with links branching off to other countries, aims to improve internet speeds in the region.

As well as VNPT, Viettel and CMC TI, other participants in the region include Facebook, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom (China), Chunghwa Telecom (Taiwan), KT and LG (the Republic of Korea), NTT (Japan), StarHub (Singapore), Time dotcom (Malaysia) and PLDT (Philippines).

The project, which was previously named Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) before the participation of Facebook led to the ASE rebranding, will be completed by the third quarter of 2014.

The total investment is estimated at 450 million USD, of which Malaysia's Time dotcom has pledged 45 million USD and Thailand's telco CAT increased its initial investment commitment of 10 million to 51 million USD.

Meanwhile, investment information from the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), Viettel and CMC TI is not yet available.

Though Facebook declined to reveal how much money the firm was committing to the scheme, market experts said the US giant would be the largest investor.

As such, the social-networking giant appears to be stealing a page from Google's playbook and moving beyond its purely web-based origins.

In 2008 Google was one of the consortiums involved in the United States-Japan Trans-Pacific Unity submarine cable system, as well as the Southeast Asia-Japan Cable in 2009.-VNA