Airtel eying at international bandwith - joins two international undersea cable consortiums

Foreseeing a rapid increase in its requirements for international bandwidth, and in a move, which is in line with its plans to be a major player in the enterprise segment, Bharti Airtel, leading private telecom operator in India, is set to join two international undersea cable consortiums for submarine links to Europe and the United States.

Bharti has joined the Telekom Malaysia (TM) led 17-member consortium of telecommunication companies to set up an Asia-America gateway (AAG) — the first submarine-cable system linking South-East Asia directly to the US. At the same time, Bharti is said to be in talks with other Asian, African, and European telecom majors for building the fifth (South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe; Sea-Me-We-5) undersea submarine cable connecting South East Asia to Europe via the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.

AAG is a 20,000 km-long cable system, which is expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2008, and when completed it will connect 10 locations in eight countries across the Asia Pacific region, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Hong Kong SAR, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and the US West Coast. Bharti will join other consortium partners such as TM, AT&T Inc Coporation (USA), Bharti AirTel (India), the government of Brunei Darussalam, British Telecom Global Network Services (UK), CAT Telekom (Thailand), Eastern Telecommunication Philipine Inc to set up the gateway for this cable. Bharti already has a submarine cable link from India to Singapore through its wholly-owned i2i cable. On the other hand, this will be the Sea-Me-We consortium’s fifth major cable linking Asian countries to Europe. While Bharti along with Tatas-owned VSNL are already part of the Sea-Me-We-4 consortium, which became operational early last year, VSNL is also part of the Sea-Me-We-3 consortium. However, the plans to build the Sea-Me-We-5 are still on the drawing board, with the consortium members, the participating operators and the countries, which this cable will touch, not determined so far. According to, David Nishball, President, Enterprise Services, Airtel, partnership in AAG cable system reinforces the company’s commitment to invest in the state-of-the-art technologies for providing scalable and future proof solutions for our international customers.

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