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Airtel only Indian firm in global cable project

May 08, 2008 12:26 IST

Bharti Airtel will be the only Indian service provider to be a part of a consortium of 15 global telecommunication companies that will build the Europe India Gateway cable system at a project cost of $700 million, according to the release issued by the domestic telecom major on Wednesday.

EIG is the first, direct, high-bandwidth, optical-fibre, submarine cable system from India to the United Kingdom, which is expected to enhance the capacity and diversity to connect India to West Asia and Europe. The 15,000-km (9,000 miles) cable system will connect 13 countries across three continents and is expected to carry commercial traffic by the second quarter of 2010.

In addition to complementing the existing, high-bandwidth cable systems in the region, the EIG cable system will provide the much-needed diversity for broadband traffic, which currently relies largely on traditional routes from Europe to India.

David Nishball, president (enterprise services), Bharti Airtel, said: "There is a tremendous rise in use of data and broadband applications among enterprises and consumers globally and India is no exception... International connectivity has become a vital part of our lives."

Whether it is large enterprises leveraging communication technologies to compete in a truly global environment or consumers seeking real-time entertainment over the internet, international connectivity has become a vital part of our lives."

Airtel will be operating the cable landing station in Mumbai. The other members of the EIG cable consortium are AT&T, British Telecom, Cable & Wireless, Djibouti Telecom, Du, Gibtelecom, IAM, Libyan Telecom, MTN Group, Omantel, PT ComunicaƧƵes, Saudi Telecom Company, Telecom Egypt, Telkom SA and Verizon Business.

The next-generation cable system is designed to provide upgradeable transmission facilities that support internet, e-commerce, video, data and voice using up to 3.84 terabits with dense-wavelength-division-multiplexing technology. The EIG consortium has signed construction and supply agreements with Alcatel-Lucent and Tyco Telecommunications.

EIG would also complement Airtel's existing high-bandwidth cable systems and its recent investments in the India-Middle East-Western Europe, Unity Cable system and Asia America Gateway cable systems.

The company currently has two international landing stations in Chennai that connect its two existing submarine cable systems - i2i to Singapore and SEA-ME-WE-4 to Europe. Bharti is building an additional cable landing station in Mumbai to land the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable as well.

BS Reporter in Mumbai