The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cable lifeline to Pak

New Delhi, July 18: Underworld links have been the norm so far between the two cities by the sea. Now, Mumbai is poised to extend an undersea cable link to Karachi.

Negotiations for putting in place a fibre optic line have reached a stage where India and Pakistan are looking at signing a memorandum of understanding.

The link could be the answer to the Internet blackout Pakistan suffered recently, shutting down call centres across the country.

Tata-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd will offer the link to Pakistan Telecommunication Ltd. VSNL will provide a landing station at Mumbai to link the international Seamewe-3 (Southeast Asia Middle East Western Europe) submarine cable with Karachi.

The cable links the Asia-Pacific region to Europe, carrying most of the call centre traffic.

The external affairs ministry has cleared the proposal. Technical experts from the two firms have held a few rounds of talks and the financial details are being worked out.

Government sources said: “This will be a benchmark in technological co-operation between the two countries. While it will provide relief to bandwidth-starved Pakistan, Indian operators stand to get revenue and enhanced knowledge on managing the infrastructure.”

VSNL will get a share of the revenue under a commercial agreement in which the government is expected not to interfere.

Sources in VSNL said Pakistan is dependent on a single undersea cable connecting Karachi to the landing station at Fujairah in the UAE.

The undersea cable provides high-quality voice and data transmission to Pakistan’s telecom network. Of late, the link has suffered several failures.

Another fibre optic link is proposed to be laid in two phases connecting Lahore to Amritsar.

A top VSNL executive said the Pakistani company claims to have begun laying the cable to the border with India, though there is yet no indication of it on this side.

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