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VSNL partner in submarine cable project

New Delhi, Sept. 4: Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) today invested about Rs 272 crore to jointly work with 12 international telecommunications carriers on the construction of a new submarine cable linking south east Asia, West Asia and Western Europe.

The project will connect 12 countries—Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy and France. This cable project is expected to be ready-for-service (RFS) in 2004.

“We are expanding our bandwidth capacity to support data services. The company has a common earth station at Hyderabad and Patna for data access. It is currently upgrading the capacity of south east Asia West Asia and Western Europe-3 cable system to reduce per unit bandwidth cost to improve sales,” VSNL sources said.

“Currently, VSNL has more than 3 gigabits per second of operational international bandwidth and one 2.5 gigabits per second of operational domestic bandwidth,” sources said.

The cable project will be built using the DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) technology, with a proposed design capacity of 1.28 Terabits per second (Tbps). Company executives said that the upgrade is essential since the existing network will provide much-needed bandwidth as cables along the same route become saturated.

Currently, data traffic from south east Asia and West Asia to Europe, is routed via smaller capacity cables, mainly SEA-ME-WE 3 and FLAG. The total cost of the project was about $ 650 million and VSNL had invested about $ 75 million in the project.

The other partners in the cable project are PT Indosat, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Telekom Malaysia Berhad, Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board, Bharti Enterprise, Sri Lanka Telecom, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation, Saudi Telecom, Telecom Egypt, Telecom Italia SpA and France Telecom.

VSNL managing director S. K. Gupta said, “With international telephony becoming more and more affordable and India achieving greater predominance on the world map as an international telecom hub, VSNL identifies the need to gear up to meet the increasing international traffic. Our investment in the SEA-ME-WE4 cable is a significant step in achieving our business objectives.”

VSNL, India’s leading provider of international telecommunication services, is the country’s first internet service provider (ISP) with a present subscriber base of around 6.5 lakh. Besides international long distance services, VSNL also offers a host of other valued added services like internet and data services, and specialised services that include video conferencing, television/video uplinking, program transmission services, frame relay services and Inmarsat services.

With established relations with 85 carries across the globe, VSNL today has a infrastructure base that covers eight gateways, 47 earth stations and six submarine cable systems. VSNL is listed on all the major bourses in India and its ADRs are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bharti Telesonic has also joined the same consortium as VSNL and is expected to invest more than Rs 100 crore in the project.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director Bharti Group, said, “We are pleased to be a part of this alliance of strong global players. The cost of the whole project is expected be firmed up by the month end. We will have to invest a minimum of Rs 25 crore for the landing station while the investment by each partner in the consortium will be decided after the final study.”

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