Japan and Russia plan to link their telecommunications networks via a new undersea fiber optic cable, they said late Tuesday. The cable, which is expected to be in place by the end of this year, avoids the area south of Taiwan in which many cables suffered damage after a powerful earthquake last year.The Hokkaido-Sakhalin Cable System (HSCS) will, as its name suggests, connect Ishikari on Hokkaido, which is the northernmost of Japan\u2019s main islands, to Nevelsk, in Russia\u2019s Sakhalin.A memorandum of understanding to build the cable was signed on Tuesday in Tokyo by Japan\u2019s NTT Communications and Russia\u2019s TransTeleCom.It will be able to carry up to 640Gbps of data and will be the shortest uninterrupted route from Japan to Europe. As it avoids Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region, it will also serve as a backup should another earthquake disrupt communications. In late December a magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck under the sea off southern Taiwan and was followed in quick succession by two more powerful quakes. The earthquakes severed several major undersea telecommunication cables, and the result was widespread telecommunications disruption in many parts of Asia for several days.-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.